It’s hard to believe, but once
upon a time, Chell Smith was
in plastics. Well, she was the
IT programming department
of a plastics manufacturer.
At that point of her career,
Smith says she would get
bored and change jobs every
few years. She told an executive recruiter that there were
two things she didn’t want
to do—work downtown and
work for a consulting firm.
Of course, she accepted a
job doing both.
“I feel very lucky to have entered the consulting world when
I did. It was a time of tremendous change being driven by
technology, and a time where there was unprecedented need
for talent,” Smith says. “It meant that there was tremendous
acceptance of anyone who had talent—regardless of gender,
ethnicity, or anything else really. It was just about talent.”
That first consulting job in downtown Minneapolis has
led to a lifetime of leadership positions, including her
current role of Americas Advisory Markets Leader for
Ernst & Young. In between, she was recognized as one of
Consulting magazine’s Top 25 Consultants in 2004.
Today, Smith’s main focus is on enabling Ernst &
Young’s Americas organization through heightened lev-
els of capability and collaboration.
So what is it about consulting that has kept Smith engaged
over the course of her career? “Three things,” she says. “The
people, the constant challenge, and the constant change. Every
day I get to work with smart, hard working, driven people on
continually changing difficult business issues that require
fresh thinking, new perspectives, and constant innovation.
That’s the environment we are in every day. For me it’s
tremendously energizing, it keeps me guessing, and never be-
comes dull, routine or boring.”
It should come as no surprise, then, that Smith says she be-
lieves her biggest accomplishments are still ahead of her—no
matter how “corny” that may sound after more than 25 years in
this industry. “I’ve done lots of good things, and lots of fun things
—and I’ve made my share of mistakes along the way. But I’m
motivated by, and always looking for, the next opportunities and
the next challenges,” she says. “It’s an exciting time to be at Ernst
& Young. We’ve been building a new consulting practice from the
ground up, and I am thrilled to be part of it.” —Joe Kornik
ERNST & YOUNG
Linda Ferrone began her career as an industrial en- gineer. After four years, however, she felt stagnant and was looking for some- thing a bit more dynamic, something that fit her en- ergy level more. “Consulting fit me like a glove,” Ferrone says. “The variety of work I do is what fulfills me. I enjoy the combination of having a client focus as well as developing team leader- ship in the company and my community. Consulting fits my per- sonality style and allows me to be very active and strategic.” But any old consulting firm wouldn’t have done the trick for Ferrone, who had already started a family by the time she switched careers. “The opportunity to work at North High- land came at a perfect time in my life,” she says. “North High- land allows me to develop my leadership skills, make a positive impact in my community and balance my time at home. I also love the people I work with. Everyone at North Highland, from consultants up to the C-suite leaders, is not only interested in client success, but also how each employee is developing personally.”
And that development has led Ferrone all the way to Vice
President and Central Florida Office Leader for North High-
land. Today, with over 20 years experience working with com-
panies to improve their performance through strategic
planning and execution, professional facilitation, organiza-
tional change management and performance management,
Ferrone is setting pretty high standards for others to follow.
However, ask her about a career of achievements, and
she’ll tell you her biggest one is being able to have a career
that she loves and be a mother at the same time. An accom-
plishment made possible, she says, by North Highland.
“Because my clients live and work where I do, travel is
limited and I’m able to spend more time at home,” she says.
“It can be difficult to balance a full-time career with raising a
family, but I feel an immense achievement to have found a
place that not only helps me achieve my goal, but encourages
it as well. Diversity can be expressed in many ways other than
gender and ethnicity, and I believe that if we embrace who we
are and form teams that are intentionally diverse, we can have
more powerful thinking and stronger results.” —Joe Kornik