Melissa Smith

Melissa is the managing director of Life & Career Planning, LLC and has spent her career leading and learning about leadership. She began her career in Cincinnati, Ohio, at the US Shoe Corporation, where she was involved in sales, marketing, training, and operations. In 1995, she became the national sales manager for the Easy Spirit retail stores and relocated to White Plains, New York. Four years later, she accepted the role of president of the Aerosoles retail stores and built a team that doubled sales and the number of store locations. During that time, Melissa counseled numerous employees at all levels on career development and growth to assist them in their professional journey.

In 2005, Melissa decided to pursue a new direction in her career and took a year and a half off to reorganize and reinvent. Since that time, she has served as the executive director of the Institute for Ethical Leadership at Rutgers Business School, is a graduate of the Leadership Newark fellows program, and has served on numerous boards. Melissa is now actively engaged in leadership and management consulting and in this role has taught ethical leadership to thousands of Rutgers Business School undergraduate students. She leads multiyear leadership development programs for emerging leaders and nonprofit executives. These programs focus on personal and professional development and have resulted in significant progress for many participants. She regularly spends time on one-on-one coaching sessions with the participants. She and her business partner, Alex Plinio, recently wrote a book, Time To Get Real!, about developing a strategic plan for your life and career. The book is currently being developed into an online course by Thomas Edison State University.

Melissa holds a bachelor’s degree in business management and marketing from the University of Tennessee–Knoxville and received an executive MBA from Rutgers Business School. She also served as the class president for the Rutgers Executive MBA program during her time as a student.

Melissa and her husband Joel have a blended family with five grown children and a lively rescue dog named Amelia. Melissa loves travel and outdoor adventure, most recently trekking to Machu Picchu in Peru and climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa.

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