Dr Heather Bell was brought up in Canada, and studied at Harvard University graduating summa cum laude in History and Science at the age of 20. She was a Commonwealth Scholar at the University of Oxford where she studied for her doctorate in the history of medicine under the supervision of Professor Megan Vaughan, FBA. She was a member of Nuffield College. She was a Rhodes Research Fellow at St Hilda's College, Oxford during which she published academic articles, taught undergraduates and converted her D.Phil. thesis into "Frontiers of Medicine in the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, 1899-1940." 
She worked at McKinsey & Company in their Toronto and London offices, becoming a partner. At McKinsey she provided advice to international companies, research councils, charities and the public sector and led sizeable teams working on various projects. She was Director of International Strategy at the University of Oxford and was a Fellow of Merton College, Oxford. She worked for AstraZeneca from 2011-2014, mostly as their Vice-President for Corporate Strategy. She currently lives in Boston.