ISPRS Foundation Trustees
Vanessa Lawrence CB
Director General and Chief Executive
Vanessa Lawrence is the Director General and Chief Executive of Ordnance Survey, Great Britain's national mapping agency. She is the first woman to head Great Britain's national mapping agency and one of the youngest Director Generals in Ordnance Survey's 220-year history. She is a world-renowned expert in how geographical information systems (GIS) can improve decision making at all levels of government and business. Vanessa is the adviser to the British Government on the short and medium strategy for mapping, surveying and GI.
Vanessa received her business training from the publishing company Pearson® plc. Prior to joining Ordnance Survey, Vanessa held senior positions at Autodesk® Inc, the fourth largest PC software company in the world. This role gave Vanessa the responsibility to position GIS strategically with major organisations; for example, Governments, the European Union, the World Bank, national mapping agencies, cadastral agencies and most importantly new customers world-wide who were not currently using geographic information for decision-making. During this time, Vanessa had particular focus on work in South Africa for the Chief Surveyor-General of South Africa to help create the ward structure for the South African General Election, held in May 1999. Vanessa has extensive experience in running organisations in several continents.
In addition to her work at Ordnance Survey, Vanessa has recently retired as the Chair of the United Kingdom ACE Association, the organisation representing Chief Executives of Government Agencies, Trading Funds and Non-Departmental Public Bodies on behalf of the Cabinet Secretary. She also concluded late in 2008 chairing a high-level group with membership drawn from the public and private sectors advising Ministers on using location information to improve decision-making in government. Place Matters: The Location Strategy for the United Kingdom was published and endorsed by Ministers in November 2008.
Vanessa is a patron of two charities, The Cure Parkinson's Trust and MapAction, a UK-based international charity which specialises in the mapping of disaster areas and supplying geographic information for humanitarian relief operations.
Vanessa is the Honorary Vice-President of The Geographical Association and a member of the Council of the Royal Geographical Society, the University of Southampton and the University of Cambridge. Vanessa is a Visiting Professor at the University of Southampton and Kingston University.
Vanessa is a Companion of the Chartered Management Institute, a Chartered Geographer and a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors and the Institution of Civil Engineering Surveyors. She was elected an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2008. Vanessa is one of the few recipients of the Scottish Geographical Medal, a prestigious award conferred only occasionally since 1890 by the Royal Scottish Geographical Society. In addition, she has six Honorary Doctorate degrees and is an Honorary Fellow of University College London. In December 2008, she was named South-East Director of the Year by the Institute of Directors.
In January 2008, Vanessa was appointed as a Companion of The Most Honorable Order of the Bath (CB) in the Queen's New Year Honors List.
In July 2009 Vanessa was appointed Honorary Colonel of 135 Independent Geographic Squadron, Royal Engineers.
In January 2011 Vanessa was honoured with the Geospatial Personality of the Decade award, recognising the contributions she has made to the geospatial world over the last 10 years.
Vanessa enjoys scuba diving, sailing her Solo dinghy, walking most weekends with friends, collecting antique maps and playing tennis at her local tennis club.