Brand Business Strategy Coaching Customer and Stakeholder Facilitation speaking Workplace and Built Environment

Vanessa’s story is one of empathy, directness, drive and determination; qualities she now brings to her professional pursuits as an multi-award winning business person, creative, speaker, facilitator, consultant… and as an ultra-endurance athlete.

She knows a thing or two about foreseeing risk, taking personal responsibility and designing a path to fight through tough times. She has overcome a background of incredible trauma and ongoing chronic disease to have represented Australia in triathlon and set a world first Fastest Known Time endurance trail running record. She started her social enterprise business, built environment and brand strategy design studio from nothing, in her early twenties, and has since successfully steered the firm through almost 2 decades of ups and downs (including the GFC and COVID-19).

She is the CEO of Forward Thinking Design; the aforementioned B Corporation and Social Traders Certified social enterprise. It is one of Australia’s most awarded true design thinking practices, servicing hospitality/F&B, retail, workplace and service based organisations. Vanessa’s clients include the founders, Boards and leadership of SME’s, startups, growth stage organisations, multinationals, NFP’s, government and businesses looking to pivot.

Vanessa teaches, facilitates and applies agile, lean CO-DESIGN and DESIGN THINKING processes to:
– establishing context & consumer/stakeholder sentiment
– identifying opportunity & mitigating risk
– creating emotionally intelligent business strategy & service innovation
– brand strategy and consumer/stakeholder experience planning

-built environment master plans and human-centric spatial design
Her firm also provides project management and post-delivery evaluation.

Vanessa’s clients often retain her as a trusted mentor in supporting their continual evolution.

For several years Vanessa served on the Australian Shop & Office Fitting Association (ASOFIA) NSW Committee and Reserve Bank of Australia Small Business Advisory Council. She holds a Bachelor of Design (Hons) – UNSW and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Directors Company Directors Course, Ambassador for PKD Australia, Steering Committee Member with Kidney Health Australia, Scientific Committee Member with AKTN, Co-Chair of the NSW BEAT-CKD Consumer Advisory Board, Diversity and Inclusion Chairperson, BLocal Sydney.


Get in touch with Vanessa Cullen