Ella L.J. Bell Smith

Professor of Business Administration

Ella bell headshot 2013

In addition to teaching in Tuck’s MBA and executive education programs, Ella L.J. Bell Smith is the founder and president of Ascent: Leading Women to the Top, a nonprofit  organization committed to professional development and career advancement. Ascent’s leadership programs are offered in partnership with Tuck Executive Education.

Working in the field of organizational behavior and organizational change, she is one of the leading experts in the management of race, gender, and class in the workplace. She is a consultant to Fortune 100 and 500 companies and public institutions on the advancement of all women in the workplace, as well as issues related to authentic leadership for both men and women. Her clients include PepsiCo, American Express, Intel, Goldman Sachs, Booz Allen Hamilton, and U.S. Department of Labor.

Professor Smith’s research interests focus on the career and life histories of professional women and she is currently studying issues of work/life balance. Her latest book Career GPS: Strategies for Women Navigating the New Corporate Landscape (Amistad, 2010) offers proven techniques for women wishing to advance their careers in the fast-changing corporate world. She is coauthor with colleague Stella M. Nkomo of the groundbreaking and critically acclaimed book Our Separate Ways: Black and White Women and the Struggle for Professional Identity (Harvard Business School Press, 2001).

She publishes in such professional journals as Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, Journal  of Management Inquiry, Journal of Career Development, Journal of Comparative Family Studies, and Journal of Organizational Behavior.

Professor Smith has written articles for Essence magazine and also the monthly “Working It” column. Frequently quoted by journalists, she has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, Black Enterprise, Newsweek, Working Mother, and Fast Company.

In 2005, she received both the Compass Award from the Women's Leadership Exchange and the Legacy of Leadership Award from the Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement. She was the recipient of the McGregor Award for Best Paper, Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, in 2001.

Professor Smith has served as an advisory board member of the National Women’s Leadership Summit, The White House Project, and as the advisory board chair of Best Companies for Women of Color, Working Mother Media.

Prior to joining the faculty at Tuck, she was on the faculties of Yale’s School of Organization and Management, MIT Sloan School of Management, University of Massachusetts, and University of North Carolina. She has been a Fellow of the Bunting Institute of Radcliffe College.

She received her BA from Mills College of Education, her MA from Columbia University, and her PhD from Case Western Reserve University.

More Information

Academic Biography
Personal Website
scent Leadership Program

A leader sets the tone for the culture. Yes, strategy is important. But strategy is what you do. Culture is what you live. It's who we are, what we stand for. We need leadership that rises to the occasion--we need compassionate, wise leaders. Companies today need employees who have the courage, the faith, the vision, and the drive to make a difference. But they have to feel valued. They have to feel appreciated. A compassionate, wise leader understands that.

– Ella L.J. Bell Smith