Vell Executive Search Team

a5-vell-team.jpgOur experienced consultants and staff are experts in filling technology executive and board leadership positions.


We build high-performance software leadership teams from start to finish, through every stage of the search process:

  • Locating and approaching candidates
  • Presenting the opportunity
  • Evaluating the candidate
  • Calibrating the client to the market
  • Managing logistics
  • Assisting in the selection process
  • Negotiating and finalizing terms of the offer


Leverage our 20+ years expertise serving a wide range of industries in the public and private sectors.


Affiliated consultants and advisors


Dora Vell, Managing Partner

Dora Vell is the CEO of Vell Executive Search, a boutique executive search firm in Boston that recruits technology executives and board members for companies ranging from promising tech startups to Fortune 100 companies. Throughout her 22-year career in executive search, she has successfully completed hundreds of assignments, placing board members, CEOs, COOs, CIOs, technology officers, vice presidents and many other C-level executives. Vell’s clients span both private and public companies and her work has included searches in markets large and small across the U.S. and Canada.

Prior to founding Vell Executive Search in 2005, she was a partner at the executive search consulting firm Heidrick & Struggles for seven years. She worked in the Technology Practice out of the Toronto office, eventually becoming the firm’s Technology Practice leader for Canada, and later joining the Boston office.

Before her career in executive search, Vell worked for 11 years at IBM Canada in software-related roles of increasing responsibility. She started as a software engineer, managed a software engineering team of 100, and then led software sales for IBM Canada. She holds seven worldwide software patents.

Vell is a recognized industry thought leader who has published several reports on governance and leadership topics. She has been frequently quoted as an expert on executive and board leadership by outlets such as The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Business Week, Fortune, Agenda Week, MSNBC, Mass High Tech, The OPUS for the World Economic Forum, Boston Business Journal, The Globe & Mail, CIO Magazine, and IEEE. She has been a featured speaker on leadership at numerous conferences and at Columbia University's MBA program.

Vell has been a Fellow of the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) and the Boston CEO Roundtable. She has served on the boards of Framingham State University, Entrepreneur's Organization, Goodwill, Mary Centre for Developmentally Handicapped Adults,, and RBC Capital Partners.

The trilingual daughter of a diplomat, Vell grew up in Canada, Greece, France, Switzerland and China. Her unique multicultural and international perspective, experiences as a woman in the male-dominated software field, and insights as a dual Canadian and U.S. citizen inform all her work for clients.

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

Areas of Practice:

  • C-Level Technology Executives
  • CEOs, CROs, Heads of Sales, Heads of Marketing, Chief Product Officers
  • Technology Officers: CTOs, CIOs, Heads of Engineering, CISOs, Chief Data Officers
  • Board Directors
  • Diversity Executives and Board Directors
  • Canadian Executives and Board Directors



Tel: 617.530.1260 extension 101Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Allison Ho, Marketing Manager

Allison Ho works at Vell Executive Search as a marketing manager. She focuses on improving search engine optimization, making strategies to enhance website traffic and maintaining website health. Prior to joining Vell, Allison ran her own business. Allison earned a BS in Animal Science at the University of Rhode Island.

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Ajanta Banerjee, Senior Industry Research Consultant

Ajanta Banerjee has been a research consultant for Vell Executive Search since 2011. She has over ten years of experience in business research. She previously worked as a Senior Research Analyst in Heidrick & Struggles’ Knowledge Management Center, leading advanced research assignments for the Consumer Markets and supporting the Leadership Consulting team on research projects in talent management, coaching, succession planning, and organizational culture and design. 

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

Ajanta earned an MA in Political Studies from Jawaharlal Nehru University (New Delhi) and she graduated from Presidency College (Kolkata), both considered premium institutions in India.

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Akanksha Sharma, Senior Research Associate

Akanksha Sharma has been a Senior Research Associate for Vell Executive Search since 2013. She is primarily involved in candidate research, executive mapping, business intelligence reports and other customized research reports. Prior to joining Vell, Akanksha was a Senior Research Analyst with Heidrick & Struggles. She provided research support to worldwide offices and worked with a variety of different industries and verticals, such as Consumer, Technology, Industrial and other.  Prior to that, Akanksha worked at at HCL Technologies, as a Credit Controller for UK based Nestle Waters. Akanksha earned an MBA  in Finance from ICFAI University and BBA from Patna Women’s College.  

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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.

Dal 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 broad experience with financial services, manufacturing, industrial and services companies.

Dal's clients have ranged from pre-revenue start-ups to multi-billion dollar corporations, including Akamai, CMGI, Fidelity, State Street, Univision, ADP 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.

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

Tel: 617.530.1263 • Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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 “A” players for these organizations. 

As a retail professional, Paula has great depth and broad extensive executive search experience in all areas of the retail business including Analytics, Finance, Human Resources, Information Technology, Logistics and Distribution, Loss Prevention/Asset Protection, Sanitation, Operations, Sales, 

Marketing, Food, General Merchandise and Perishable Merchandising and Real Estate. 

She has been trained in the Topgrading interview process as well as in behavioral and situational interviewing techniques. Paula 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 (2008 and 2009 years) 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 Masters in Education from Boston University.

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