Vanessa Lawrence

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Vanessa Lawrence
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) 14 July 1962 (age 56)

Dr Vanessa Vivienne Lawrence CB HonFREng FRGS FRICS FCInstCES FRSGS CCMI CGeog FRSGS (born 14 July 1962) is a British businessperson, geographer and speaker working internationally.

For 14 years, until April 2014, she was Director-General and Chief Executive of Ordnance Survey, Great Britain's national mapping agency.[1] She was the first woman to hold the post and at the time of her departure had held the chief role longer than any predecessor in more than a century.[2][3][4]

In January 2008 Lawrence was invested as a Companion of The Most Honourable Order of the Bath (CB) in the New Year Honours List.[5] She has been elected an Honorary Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineering Surveyors and of the Royal Academy of Engineering.[6] She is also a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, a Companion of the Chartered Management Institute,[7] a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society[8] and a Chartered Geographer.[9]

During her career with government she served as the co-founder and inaugural chair of ACE which represented the CEOs of Government Agencies, Trading Funds and Non-Departmental Bodies,[10] was the Chair of the Geographic Information Panel [11][12] that produced the Location Strategy of the United Kingdom known as Place Matters: the Location Strategy for the United Kingdom[13] and was a Non-Executive Director of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister[14] and the Open Geospatial Consortium [15]

Prior to working in government, she was employed by Autodesk[16] and by Pearson plc in the Longman Group.[17][18]

She has been awarded the Royal Scottish Geographical Society, Scottish Geographical Medal for conspicuous merit and world-wide repute,[19] the Institute of Directors South-East Director of the Year Award in 2008 [20] and was made the Geospatial Person of the Decade 2000-2010 [21]

In 2008, she joined the Council of the University of Cambridge[22] having served on the Council of the University of Southampton since 2001.[23]

In 2011, the United Nations elected Lawrence to serve as the inaugural Co-Chair of its Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management (UN-GGIM).[24][25][26][27] She served in this role continuously for four years working with others to develop UN-GGIM to be the lead global authority for governments and the private sector in geographic Information. On leaving UN-GGIM after four years, she was awarded a Certificate of Appreciation by the Under-Secretary-General, Dr Wu Hongbo [28][29] The text of the Certificate [30] read as follows:

"The deep appreciation, respect and gratitude of the United Nations Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management (UN-GGIM) is presented to Dr. Vanessa V. Lawrance CB. On behalf of all UN Member States, the Committee of Experts appreciates the considerable leadership and dedication of time and effort you have given to promote, shape and guide UN-GGIM since its establishment by the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC) in 2011. As the inaugural Co-Chair of the Committee of Experts from 2011-2015, your global knowledge and expertise has ensured that significant progress has been made towards achieving the Committee's mandated objectives. Through your leadership the international community has made important progress towards recognising the essential role of geospatial information in global development. With grateful thanks."

In 2015, Lawrence was appointed a Non-Executive Director of the Satellite Applications Catapult Ltd,[31] a global advisor for geospatial information to the World Bank Group,[32][33] a Director of Location International Ltd [34] and a Member of the Advisory Group of the Urban Big Data Centre [35]

She remains the Honorary Colonel, 135 Squadron Royal Engineers,[36][37][38] an Adjunct Professor at the University of Southampton,[39] a Visiting Professor at University of Kingston,[40] Honorary Vice-President of the Geographical Association,[41] a Trustee of the Royal Geographical Society [42] and the Winchester Science Centre [43] and a Patron of the Cure Parkinson's Trust[44] and MapAction.[45]


  1. ^ 1 2008 New Year Honours: The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 58557. pp. 1–26. 29 December 2007.
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  5. ^ 2008 New Year Honours: The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 58557. pp. 1–26. 29 December 2007.
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  41. ^ GA Introducing The Geographical Association.pdf
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External links[edit]

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