Where Are They Now? Kelly Bell '11

April 10, 2014

Kelly Bell

Kelly founded the company Intrical with her husband in Washington, D.C.

What did you study at Simmons?

I studied psychology and women's studies at Simmons

What does your company do?

Intrical consists of policy-minded scientists and engineers focused on public health, education, security, and intelligence.

What is a typical day like at your job?

I'm currently consulting to a private residential school for Native American children in South Dakota. I live in DC but travel to the school for 2-3 weeks each month. On a typical day, I work from my office at the school. I'm leading an effort to implement a new data management system, so I spend an hour or two in meetings with my implementation team to check in on progress and make sure things are going smoothly. I'm also developing a survey for the school to measure student outcomes. Right now we're in the cognitive testing stage, which means I get to meet with students, walk through the survey, and see if they understand the questions. If students don't understand certain questions, I'll look for ways to reword or simplify them before we administer the survey to the whole school. Once my work is done for the day, I always have the option to have dinner in a home with the students. It's a great way to add context to my work and get to know more about the students' lives.

How was the job application process for you?

I founded the company with my husband, so there was no application. I'd worked at a few consulting companies before deciding to start my own. I enjoyed my work but didn't like the way the companies operated. In this industry (and many others) the focus is often on profit instead of impact. My husband and I wanted to start a consulting company that works effectively and operates transparently. At Intrical, we prioritize good governance over high profits and collaboration over competition.

What is your favorite part of your job?

I love that being on location for my current client allows me to build relationships with staff and students and see the tangible impact of my work. Starting a new company is a bit stressful, but it's also really exciting. When I'm not working on contract work, I spend time building the business - working on our website and blog, researching business opportunities, and managing our financials and HR. It's been a great learning experience.
How did you know the organization was a good fit for you?
I created it! None of the companies I was at before really shared my values, so I started a company that did.

What was your favorite class you took at Simmons?

I loved Social and Emotional Development. I've always been interested in child well-being, and that class provided a great mix of theory and real-life application examples

If you could come back and take one class at Simmons what would it be?

A computer science class! I think having a basic understanding of computer science and programming is essential for most careers these days. This report from NPR says it better than I can: "Our future lawyers and doctors and politicians and businessmen - the folks in the other jobs - need to have a little bit of background about how the world around them works...It's all around us, and every industry gets impacted by it."

How has it been transitioning into a young professional?

I've been lucky - I didn't struggle much to find positions in my field and have been able to grow quickly. I think the most important thing is to keep an open mind and look for ways to grow and learn in every position. I worked for a non-profit research firm and then transitioned to a management/HR role in a consulting firm, which may seem like an odd transition, but both positions taught me skills that were essential in allowing me to start my own business.

How did Simmons help you prepare for your career?

My independent research projects prepared me well for the work I do now. I learned how to think scientifically and plan a project from start to finish. My women's studies classes helped me develop a critical lens and strong writing skills that are important for work in any field.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

Running Intrical, a successful consulting company, and working with government and private clients to improve education and public health programs.

What advice would you give to the current Simmons undergraduate students?

Take STEM courses, learn to code, and strongly consider the real-world applications of your degree. Seek out internships and independent study opportunities that are directly related to the kind of work you want to do when you graduate.