Vanessa Lawrence

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Dr.
Vanessa Lawrence
CB HonFREng FRGS FRICS FCInstCES CCMI CGeog
Vanessa Lawrence 2012-11-23 TobiasK-crop.jpg
Director-General and Chief Executive, Ordnance Survey
In office
2000 – April 2014
Preceded by David Willey
Succeeded by Neil Ackroyd
Personal details
Born 1962-07-14

Dr Vanessa Vivienne Lawrence CB HonFREng (born 14 July 1962) is a British businessperson and geographer who for 14 years was Director-General of the Ordnance Survey.[1][2]

Until April 2014, Vanessa Lawrence was the Director-General and Chief Executive of Ordnance Survey, Great Britain’s national mapping agency.[3] Vanessa was an adviser to the British Government on mapping, surveying and geographic information and was instrumental in the delivery of Place Matters: The Location Strategy for the United Kingdom which was published and endorsed by Ministers in November 2008.

She received her business training from the publishing company Pearson plc. Prior to joining Ordnance Survey, Vanessa held senior positions at Autodesk Inc.

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. She is also 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 Institution of Chartered Surveyors and the Institution of Civil Engineering Surveyors. She was elected an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering[1] in 2008.

In January 2008, Vanessa was appointed as a Companion of The Most Honourable Order of the Bath (CB) in the Queen’s New Year Honours List.[2]

Vanessa is one of the few recipients of the Scottish Geography 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 July 2009 Vanessa was appointed Honorary Colonel of 135 Independent Geographic Squadron, Royal Engineers.

In October 2011, Vanessa was appointed as co-Chair of the United Nations Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management. The new committee reports directly to the UN Economic and Social Council.

In 2011, Ms. Lawrence was commissioned by her Australian colleague, Mr. Drew Clarke, then Secretary of the Australian Department of Resources Energy and Tourism (DRET). The Lawrence Report — titled Investigation into the Spatial Capability of Australia – was commissioned by Geoscience Australia,[4] and accepted by Drew Clarke on behalf of the Office of Spatial Policy, within the DRET. The report was released in April 2012 to a highly controversial reception by the broader geospatial sciences professional and business communities. Industry and business concerns about the veracity of this report is well summed up by Public Sector Mapping Agencies Inc.[5] CEO Mr. Dan Paull,[6] ‘not ours, not commissioned by us and not binding on us’.[7] The Ordnance experience upon which Ms. Lawrence draw her experience was considered to not be relevant to the complex federation of Australia with national, state and territory governments. Further the EU experience under INSPIRE [8] which has not yet proven itself was not comparable to the Australian situation. The Australian Government's response to this report was less than accepting following outcry from business, industry and professional organizations as well as only token acquiesce by state and territory delegates to the Australian New Zealand Land Information Council (ANZLIC).[9] Inter-governmental representatives - when the report is carefully read.[10] It shows how out of touch Ms. Lawrence was with real geospatial industry development and government policy outside the UK. The change in Australian federal government from the Australian Labor Party to the conservative Coalition under new Prime Minister Tony Abbott in September 2013, saw the report discarded.

In April 2014, the Cameron Government took action to end Ms. Lawrence's tenure as Director-General and Chief Executive of Ordnance Survey.[11] In effect Ms. Lawrence's business model for Ordnance Survey had reportedly failed and was unable to delivery revenue targets set. The chaos surrounding Ms. Lawrence demise at Ordnance Survey is well documented.[12] Ms. Lawrence was also targeted by the Cameron government as being one of the civil servants on the exceptionally high salaried list.[13] Prime Minister David Cameron in a move to improve government transparency and accountability released a list of 170 civil servants earning more than the Prime Minister himself. Ms. Lawrence at around £200,000 was in the top echelon. So the result of being over paid and delivering poorly on promises to Whitehall, Ms. Lawrence was finally terminated. Ms. Lawrence announced mapping out new career [14] and was placed on administrative leave to pursue new directions reportedly with the United Nations and the World Bank.

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Government offices
Preceded by
David Willey
Director-General of the Ordnance Survey
2000–April 2014
Succeeded by
Neil Ackroyd