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About Vell

The Vell Team

Our experienced consultants and staff are experts in filling positions for public and private software companies, in the C-suite and board level.

We have unmatched experience in building high-performance software leadership teams through all the stages of the search process: locating and approaching candidates, presenting the opportunity, and evaluating the candidate, calibrating the client to the market, managing logistics, assisting in the selection process and finalizing terms of the offer.

Dora Vell

Managing Partner

Dora Vell is the Managing Partner of Vell Executive Search, a boutique executive search firm in Boston focused on recruiting technology executives and board members. Vell has successfully completed numerous board member and C-level executive searches, including CEOs, COOs, CIOs, and Vice Presidents - at both public and private companies.

Prior to founding the firm in 2005, Vell was a Partner at Heidrick & Struggles' Technology practice for seven years. Before her career in executive search, she worked at IBM for 11 years, managing software engineering organizations of 100 people and software sales organizations with revenues of $150 million. She has also served as an executive assistant to the CEO of IBM Canada for one year.

Vell holds seven worldwide software patents. She has published several Business of Leadership reports on governance and leadership and has been quoted in numerous articles including The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Business Week, Fortune, Agenda Week, MSNBC, Mass High Tech, and the OPUS for the World Economic Forum, Boston Business Journal, The Globe & Mail, CIO Magazine, and IEEE. She also has been a featured speaker on leadership at numerous conferences and at Columbia University's MBA program.

Vell is a member of the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD), the Boston CEO Roundtable. She has served on the boards of Framingham State, Entrepreneur's Organization, Goodwill, and Mary Centre for developmentally handicapped adults, garage.ca, and RBC Capital Partners.

She has received an MBA from the University of Toronto, a Master in Computer Science from the University of Waterloo, and a Bachelor in Computer Science from Carleton. She has also completed the MIT Entrepreneurial Master’s program.

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Dal Coger

Vice President

Dal Coger has been in the executive search field since 1992. He has successfully conducted C-level and board search assignments in high technology including software, wireless, storage, networking and Internet companies.

Coger has had an extensive career in both large and boutique executive search firms all focused on the C-suite and board. Additionally, he has had broadening experience with financial services, manufacturing, industrial and services companies.

Coger's clients have ranged from pre-revenue start-ups to multi-billion dollar corporations, including Akamai, CMGI, Fidelity, State Street, EnterpriseDB, Performance Technologies, Cedarpoint Communications, Black Duck Software, Fiberlink Software, MindSHIFT, Sionex and many others.

Prior to entering the executive search field, Coger was a Compliance Examiner with NASDAQ and the National Associate of Securities Dealers. He began his career as a marketing representative with Fidelity Investments.

Coger holds an MBA from Anna Maria College and a Baccalaureate of Science from the University of Tennessee.

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Paula Axelrod

Vice President 

Paula is a talent acquisition executive with over 25 years of experience helping dynamic organizations find and select the top talent they need to grow and evolve. She has served in various executive and leadership roles for several fast paced organizations, including leading the technology recruiting for a F500 company. She has led recruiting/staffing teams of up to 25 individuals and developed selection systems designed to screen in "A" players for these organizations.

Paula has been trained in the Topgrading interview process as well as in behavioral and situational interviewing techniques.

She holds a B.A. in Management with a concentration in Human Resources from the University of MA/Boston. She has been an active leader in the MetroWest Alliance for Workforce Diversity serving as Events Chair, Chair Elect, Chair (for 2008 and 2009) and presently serves on the Membership Committee. Paula is also an active member of the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), New England Human Resources Association (NEHRA) participating in the diversity and inclusion and college relations committees.

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Judy Smith 

Senior Consultant

Judith Alper Smith is a senior consultant at Vell Executive Search. From 1987 to 2006, she worked at Heidrick & Struggles, where she was promoted to Senior Associate in 1992 before being asked to join the Office of the President and Chief Executive officer. With the expiration of his term in 1997, Smith remained on the president and CEO's team completing senior executive and board assignments across all industries.

Smith has worked closely with a broad selection of clients, including utilities, manufacturers, financial institutions, not-or-profit organizations, private companies and technology corporations to recruit CEOs, Executive Directors, Chief Financial Officers, Senior Operating Executives and Boards of Directors.

Prior to joining Heidrick & Struggles, Smith was an Independent Search Consultant in Boston for seven years. Before entering the search field, she founded the Booksmith, a chain of 70 franchised retail outlets. She also headed the Travel Department of the American Field Service, where she was responsible for transporting 8,000 students from over 30 countries.

Smith has been elected five times to the Brookline Town Meeting and appointed to two terms on the Town's Finance Committee. She was elected Chairperson of the Brookline Friendly Society (currently named the Brookline Community Foundation), a 140-year-old grant making foundation, and she remains on the organization's investment committee. She was elected five times to the Board of Governors of the Longwood Cricket Club and is currently a Governor of the Badminton & Tennis Club. In addition she serves on the Advisory Council of the Textile Museum in Washington, DC.

Smith has been the number one ranked senior women's doubles tennis player in New England and she continues to compete in National tournaments representing New England. Graduating from Wheaton College with a BA she went on to receive a Master's in Education from Boston University.

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Marie Bova

Manager, Business Operations

Marie Bova is the Executive Assistant/Business Operations Manager at Vell Executive Search. Her role includes calendar management, logistics, database management, vendor relationships, and events. Marie has over 15 years working as an administrative professional in diversified businesses such as McGraw Hill, BzzAgent and NaviNet. Upon earning her Bachelor of Arts in English from Suffolk University, where she was editor of the school’s literary magazine, Marie started her career with textbook publisher, Houghton Mifflin Company.

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Victoria Agel

Marketing Coordinator

Victoria Agel is the Marketing at Vell Executive Search. She is in charge of the company's marketing and web activities. Her responsibilities include researching and compiling data for thought leadership reports, coordinating web efforts, executing email campaigns, and maintaining candidate and client databases. Previously, she graduated from Hofstra University with her Bachelor's degree in Management and Legal Studies.

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Ajanta Banerjee

Business Research Associate

Ajanta Banerjee has over eight years' experience in business research. She joined Vell Executive Search three years ago. She previously worked as a Senior Research Analyst for Heidrick & Struggles in the Knowledge Management Center, leading advanced research assignments in the Consumer Markets team focusing on strategic business research and analytics, executive mapping, and thought leadership themes. In addition, she supported the Leadership Consulting team on research projects in talent management, coaching, succession planning, and organization culture & design.

Prior to H&S, Banerjee was Senior Associate, Measurement with SHOPMAX, a mystery shopping company, focusing on managing surveys for a diverse set of clients in the retail and hospitality sectors. 

Banerjee has a MA degree from Jawaharlal Nehru University (New Delhi) and she graduated from Presidency College (Kolkata).

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Vell Executive Search is a certified WBE by NWBOC and SOMWBA.