2023 MBA To Watch: Santucee Bell, Babson College (Olin)

Santucee Bell

Babson College, F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business

“An entrepreneurial thinker with a bias for action and a heart for helping others.”

Hometown: Wilmington, NC

Fun fact about yourself: At heart, I am quite the adventurous daredevil. I climbed an active volcano while in Guatemala and loved the thrill that came with every step.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Johnson C. Smith University – BS in Business Administration and Management | 1st master’s degree: Washington University in St. Louis – MSW (individualized) – Social Administration with a Certificate in Social Entrepreneurship.

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? I completed a pre-MBA internship in the Innovation and Venture Strategy division of World Business Chicago: the city’s public‑private economic development agency that drives inclusive economic growth and job creation, supports businesses, and promotes Chicago as the leading global city. In that role, I co-led planning for Chicago’s largest venture capital conference (Chicago Venture Summit) and helped grow Startup Chicago: WBC’s VC attraction and startup growth program

Prior to that, I worked full-time as an Operations Coordinator with Uber Freight: a startup, making shipping cargo more affordable, within the $100 billion tech startup company Uber. I joined this new division and successfully co-launched its after-hours operation.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2022? I worked full-time with Babson’s Center for Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership (CWEL) as a Project Coordinator, Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion, where I support CWEL’s strategic planning of inclusive and innovative research and programming, including the Black Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership program (BWEL). This is my part-time job during the academic year and the work that I do with the center aligns with my passion to revitalize Black Wall Street: an era where prosperous black businesses nurtured financially-free black communities.

Where will you be working after graduation? I am actively seeking consultant, associate director, or manager roles in inclusive entrepreneurship and small business support. My target industries to engage in this type of work are consulting, economic development, and the entrepreneurship support ecosystem.

In addition to this, working under my own brand, I will offer technical assistance and support – from ideation to scaleup – to women and minority-owned businesses (W/MBE) and entities that support this population of diverse founders. If you are interested in working with me, let’s chat! Contact info: sbell1@babson.edu.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Co-President, Babson Black Graduate Club (2022-2023 Academic Year)
  • Scholar, Butler Institute for Free Enterprise Through Entrepreneurship (2022-2023 Academic Year)
  • Peer-Elected Community Development Representative, Two-Year MBA Program – Class of 2023 (Spring 2022)
  • Peer-Elected Section Representative, Two-Year MBA Program – Class of 2023 (Fall 2021)
  • Volunteer, DEI Recruitment for Graduate Programs (Fall 2021 – Spring 2023)
  • Full Merit Scholarship Recipient – Babson Diversity Leadership Fellowship

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am the graduate recipient of the 2023 Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Award. The Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Award honors members of the Babson community (students, faculty, staff, groups, or organizations) who reflect Dr. King’s principles and ideals in philosophy and action.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? To be honest, I am most proud of my resilience. My journey to position myself to pivot into my passion and stay there was far from easy. I made many mistakes along the way. However, I did not let those mistakes force me to give up. I took the lessons learned and tried, tried, and tried again until I got it right. I am proud of the professional young lady that I have grown to be. Most importantly, I thank God for what he has done and what he will do as I continue to exist on this earth and carry out his work. God’s grace and mercy is like no other.

Why did you choose this business school? Babson’s curriculum is like no other. It is the only business school where everything is grounded in entrepreneurial thought & action (ETA). My ultimate goal in life is to get to the point where everything that I do is entrepreneurial in nature. I’m 100% sure that I picked the right school to help get me there.

Who was your favorite MBA professor?  Andrew (Zach) Zacharakis, The John H. Muller, Jr. Chair in Entrepreneurship. He teaches the New Venture Creation course where he guides student entrepreneurs from idea to pitch for their ventures. The individualized coaching and feedback that I received from him was invaluable. I left his class feeling more confident that I have everything that I need to achieve the entrepreneurial lifestyle that I so deeply desire.

What was your favorite course as an MBA? During the core, all students complete BetaX: an experiential learning opportunity where you work in a team to build a business from the ground up. This course is good training wheels for understanding the entrepreneurial journey. HUGE shoutout to learning team 17: myself, Kousalya Lanka, Javier Fernandez, Tirth Shah, Ruttanun (Phone) Vilailuck. We created the Whole Health Menstrual Relief Kit.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? I really enjoyed working alongside Terrance Gresham, Senior Associate Director of Diversity & Inclusion, Graduate Admissions. Servant leadership is a major guiding principle in my life. Having the opportunity to help him create new diversity recruitment strategies, partnerships, and sit on student panels (because #RepresentationMatters), was a pleasure.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? I would have loved to have a business coach helping guide me during this very rigorous MBA journey. I’m a 1st generation MBA. It would have been nice to have someone who has been in my shoes provide guidance on how to navigate the journey. I missed my mark for a few opportunities because I didn’t have this level of support.

What is the biggest myth about your school? The biggest myth about Babson is that it is a school for entrepreneurs only. Babson’s entrepreneurial though & action curriculum is more about a lifestyle than anything else.

What did you love most about your business school’s town? Massachusetts is close to so many other states. I loved being able to take day trips to near states. My favorite trip was going to New Hampshire with Outdoor Afros and doing ice climbing for the first time.

What surprised you the most about business school? It was how crazy of an experience completing the core curriculum would be. It is definitely not for the weak.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? I leveraged hella pre-MBA programs and conferences aimed at helping diverse candidates be victorious at the end of the MBA application process. These engagements helped me fully understand the admissions process and therefore better position me to be a competitive candidate by showcasing my unique personal value proposition in a way that was highly appealing to admissions teams.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I don’t have a specific classmate, per say. I admire my peers who also prioritized doing things to improve the Babson Community vs. solely focusing on themselves during their tenure in the program.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?

I can’t wait to get to the point where everything I do in life is entrepreneurial in nature. Remember, I am in pursuit of a specific type of lifestyle. I also look forward to starting

Blessed Beginning is an education reform foundation aimed at bridging the gap in wraparound support for first-generation students of color at historically black colleges and universities and at select elite higher-ed institutions. The foundation will offer scholarships that help cover tuition, basic needs, and mentoring for awardees.

What made Santucee Bell such an invaluable member of the Class of 2022?

“I enthusiastically recommend Tucee, without reservation. Tucee is not just a model student but an exceptional community member in so many ways. In class, she is sharp yet incredibly kind which is priceless in an MBA setting!  She engages deeply and takes ownership of tasks all while leading her colleagues to be better versions of themselves.  For example, in the experiential learning class that I teach where students work in diverse teams on a consulting style project for an external partner organization, Tucee took the lead to help her team accomplish a lot in very little time, while facing uncertainty due to external client demands, Covid-related restrictions, and team dynamics.  Not only did she manage much of the project for her team, she was also exceptional at managing upwards with advisors and client contacts as well as managing across with her peers (a tough, yet necessary skill to have such influence without formal authority).

Tucee’s nuanced contributions, intellectually curiosity, and attention to detail were an example for others in the class in that she was always professional and “client ready”.  Many of her colleagues commented on her leadership skills, work ethic, and ability to go above and beyond to add value in new ways.  These same skills are evidenced in her role outside of class as a Butler Institute Student Scholar.  Further, her willingness to ask tough questions and ability to do so in a vulnerable manner enhanced the learning environment for everyone in our class, including me.  Again, she was praised by team members for related skills in how she has a clear direction but is also considerate of bringing others into the process. This invaluable ability to think strategically, yet inclusively, is highlighted in her work on campus at our Center for Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership, her contribution to DEI recruiting efforts, her role with the Babson Black Graduate Club, and her receiving the MLK Legacy Award Graduate this year.  Tucee showcased her growth mindset during the course of our semester together as well as in all that she has done across our community, whether building on our existing programs or shaping the future of Babson in new and entrepreneurial ways!”

Alia Crocker
Associate Professor of Strategy


Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.