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Dr Ellen Snee | Catalyst Coaching


Gerdi with Dr Ellen Snee on how to claim your authority

Ellen Snee has worked at the forefront of women’s leadership development for more than 25 years. But for the first 18 of those years, the front line of leadership wasn’t an Ivy League MBA program or a high-end consulting firm: It was an international order of Catholic nuns.

During her time in the order, Ellen was surrounded by smart, educated, committed, and fun women who held roles of authority that were uncommon for women in the 1970s. She gained a number of essential — and, happily, transferable — skills: How to discern a call or deep desire, how to work collaboratively with other women, and how to be a savvy operator within male hierarchies. This experience laid the foundation for Ellen’s guiding passion: to become an expert in women’s leadership development and to change the world, one woman at a time.

Ellen left the convent while still in graduate school, receiving her EdD in Human Development and Psychology from Harvard University in 1994. She turned the conceptual frameworks from her dissertation on women in roles of authority into the launch of a successful consulting firm, Fine Line Consulting. Before long, she arrived in the corporate sector running leadership and coaching programs for executive women in Fortune 500 companies such as Pfizer, Schwab, Marriott, Goodyear and many others. For 15 years she provided one-to-one coaching to high potential and executive-level women across the country.

A move to California in 2001 led to work in Silicon Valley at the major tech companies such as Apple, Cisco, KPG, and Citrix. In 2009 Ellen was hired by global technology company VMware as VP Leadership Development and Organizational Consulting. She went on to lead Global Talent Development and in 2013 launched VMwomen, a business initiative designed to attract, retain, develop, and advance talented women.

She has spoken extensively at corporate conferences including the Conference Board, Catalyst, California Governors Association, Marriott, Pfizer, Panasonic, Amgen, as well as Boston College, University of Michigan and Presidio Business Schools. Ellen is a member of the International Women’s Forum, an invitation-only organization of global women leaders. She is an advisor to She Can and Rise Up, organizations that empower young women in Africa and Asia to become leaders. She is a global advisor for How Women Lead and a Limited Partner with How Women Invest venture fund.

Ellen is the author of Lead: How Women in Charge Claim Their Authority (She Writes Press), in which she shares her wisdom and experience with all talented women seeking to accelerate their careers. Lead differs from other management and leadership books in several important ways. The locus of authority throughout is women’s experience within 3 vital perspectives: personal, relational, and systemic. Ellen’s Self-Others-Systems model recognizes that women are always in simultaneous relationships with themselves, others, and the systems in which they live and work. All of these relationships overlap and interact dynamically when someone exercises their leadership in a role of authority.

Full of insights, examples, and stories, Lead is firmly grounded in psychological research. She has her experiences and illustrated them in such a way as to be both inspiring and instructive to women on their way up. Along the way, Ellen urges women to find and speak with their unique voice and claim their personal power.

In 2015 Ellen returned to the work she loves, accelerating the career advancement of talented women through executive coaching. Based in the San Francisco Bay area, she continues to coach and advise women leaders and executives around the world, and to speak at companies, academic institutions and leadership conferences.

For more from ‘Daring Self-Leadership …’

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Ellen's Favourites Celebrating Nature



‘Rocky Mountain High’ by John Denver


The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery



The Secret of Roan Inish directed by John Sayles

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