Education: On-going CPD, Australian Institute of Company Directors BEAT-CKD Patient Engagement in Kidney Research Workshop 2017 Social Design Sydney Intro to Co-Design Masterclass, 2017 Australian Institute of Company Directors Course 2017 Graduate National Coaching Accreditation Scheme Level 1 Jujitsu Assistant Trainer 2011 Manage Mentor Plus, Harvard University 2007 Graduate Diploma Museum Studies, Deakin University 2005 Bachelor of Design (Honours), University of New South Wales, 2004
FoodLab Sydney Guest Presenter/Workshop Facilitator, Sydney, 2019 Lonsdale Institute Guest Speaker, Business Faculty, Sydney, 2019 Newkind Conference Speaker, Hobart, 2019 Profitable Hospitality Podcast and Silver Chef Guest Speaker, 2019 Telstra Women in Business Awards Judge, 2019 KHA-CARI & KDIGO Guidelines Contributor, 2018 - Present Club Catalina (Golf Club) Board Strategic and Master Planning Facilitator, Batemans Bay, 2018 Club Catalina (Golf Club) Building Master Plan Co-Design Facilitator, Batemans Bay, 2018 Penrith City Council Public Areas and Reception Co-Design Facilitator, Penrith, 2018 Nutrition in Healthcare Symposium Closing Speaker, Sydney, 2017 Fine Food Australia and Commercial Drinks Expo Speaker, Sydney, 2017 Profiled in ‘The Book of Amazing People’, Athena Publishing, 2017 Silver Winner, Sydney Design Awards 2016 Rare Birds Conference Speaker, Sydney, 2016 World Vegan Day Speaker, Melbourne, 2016 Triathlon and Endurance Cycling Expo Speaker, Sydney, 2016 Finalist Hills Building and Design Awards 2016 – Retail Profiled in ‘IF SHE CAN, I CAN’ Book Publication, Rare Birds, 2016 Profiled in ‘Entrepreneurial Heart’ Book and Podcast Publication 2016 Australian Representative Age Group Sprint Triathlete, World Championships, Chicago 2015 Finalist Western Sydney Awards For Business Excellence 2014 Finalist Hills Building and Design Awards 2013 Finalist Sydney Design Awards 2013 Finalist ASOFIA 2012-2013 – Interior Fitout Awards The Executive Connection R208 CEO of the Year 2013 Finalist NSW Business Chamber Awards 2012 – Future Business Leader Finalist Western Sydney Awards For Business Excellence 2012 – Excellence in Professional Services & Excellence in Export Finalist Telstra Australia Business Awards, HTC Start Up, 2012 Finalist Retail Design Awards 2012 Winner Western Sydney Awards For Business Excellence 2012 – Young Female Entrepreneur of the Year Shortlisted in Eat-Drink-Design Awards 2012 Shortlisted in Sydney Design Awards 2012 Winner Western Sydney Awards For Business Excellence 2011 – Business of the Year 2011 Winner Western Sydney Awards For Business Excellence 2011 – Excellence In Property Shortlisted in Anthill Magazine Cool Company Awards 2011 – Micro Business and X-Factor Shortlisted in IDEA National Retail Design Awards 2011 Anthill Magazine ’30 Under 30’ Young Entrepreneurs Winner 2009 and 2010 Winner Suncorp Western Sydney Awards For Business Excellence 2010 - Customer Service Mentor in Young Entrepreneurs Stepping Up Program 2010 Winner Suncorp Western Sydney Regional Business Awards 2009 - Highly Commended Winner Suncorp Parramatta Regional Business Awards 2008 - Chairman's Choice & New Business
Current Company: Forward Thinking Design
Current Position: Managing Director
Experience Description: Founder and Managing Director of a leading Certified B Corporation - Forward Thinking Design Restaurant, retail, health, clubs, NFP and commercial business strategy and built environment design. Board advisory, market research, stakeholder/user experience and engagement, co-design, branding, interior fitout design and construction project management. 2005 - current Every Seat at the Table (a division of Forward Thinking Design) - Launch and ongoing management of vegan and special dietary requirement menu and hospitality advisory consultancy. 2019 - current Australasian Kidney Trials Network Scientific Committee - Consumer Advisor on committee that provides scientific leadership to the AKTN by providing evaluation and prioritisation of proposed clinical trials, guidelines, clinician and consumer education. 2019 - Present B Local Sydney - Diversity and Inclusion Chairperson. B Local Sydney is the committee representing the community of Certified B Corporations in Sydney; using business as a force for good. 2019 - Present BEAT-CKD - NSW Co-chair of BEAT CKD (Better Evidence and Translation in Chronic Kidney Disease) Consumer Advisory Board. Advising kidney disease researchers on policy, process and priorities for consumer engagement and care. 2018 - Present PKD Foundation Australia - Ambassador, writer, speaker and advocate working to raise awareness of Polycystic Kidney Disease, and research funding towards education, empowerment, support, treatment and hopefully a cure. NFP. 2015 - current Lentil As Anything - Non-Executive Director of group of NFP restaurants. Conducted audit report on Melbourne and Sydney premises and operations. Mentor to Sydney restaurant management. 2017 - 2018 Australian Shop and Office Fitting Industry Association NSW - Junior Vice President and Committee Member. Broad governance of the NSW chapter across strategy, financials, membership, sponsorship, advocacy, promotion and events. 2013 - 2017 Reserve Bank of Australia - Small Business Advisory Board Member and Business Liaison Program Member 2014 - 2018
Meet in Person
Vanessa’s inspiring story is one of vision, determination, integrity, hard work and overcoming severe adversity, personal responsibility, discipline, growth, emotional intelligence, balance, compassion and giving. Her successes as an award winning social entrepreneur, brand and built environment strategist and ultra-endurance athlete have privileged her with the credentials and flexibility to now support others. She offers strategic, workplace, management, life and health/wellness mentoring to anyone in governance, business, leadership or influence. Her mentees are those looking to improve their organisational and/or personal performance and well-being in an agile, forward thinking, ethical and sustainable fashion. She brings to them an open mind, listening ear, extensive academic, professional and lived experience (including of trauma) and a willingness to both encourage and challenge. Vanessa is known as a straight talker and is often engaged as a board advisor, conference speaker and tertiary education guest lecturer.
For over 16 years Vanessa has been the Managing Director of Forward Thinking Design (www.forwardthinkingdesign.com.au); a Certified B Corp social enterprise, which she founded.
Forward Thinking Design is one of the most awarded brand strategy, stakeholder experience, fitout design & project management studios in Australia. The firm consults to leadership across restaurants and hospitality, retail, services, workplace, health/fitness, sporting club and community venues. It specifically exists to support fellow organisations with social, ethical and environmental impact values at their core and the business’ profits are retained to finance the provision of pro bono and reduced fee services to charities and social enterprise.
She is the Diversity and Inclusion Chairperson of BLocal Sydney, Australia (B Corporation business community) and an activist for equality, environmental sustainability and improved ethics in business and society. As a sufferer and survivor of serious illness she is an Ambassador for Polycystic Kidney Disease Australia, Member of the AKTN Scientific Committee and Co-Chair of the NSW BEAT-CKD Consumer Advisory Board.
Previously she was the Junior Vice President of the NSW Division of the Australian Shop & Office Fitting Association (ASOFIA), a committee on which she served for many years. She holds a Bachelor of Design (Hons) – UNSW, a Postgraduate Diploma in Museum Studies – Deakin and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Directors Company Directors Course.
Vanessa holds a Fastest Known Time ultra trail running record and previously represented Australia in triathlon. She has been profiled in several books, national print media, on radio, TV and podcasts. She is a strong promoter of individual and collective empowerment, responsibility, achievement and well-being.