(GAICD, B.Design Hons, Grad. Dip. Museum Studies)

Vanessa Cullen is the Founder and Principal of Forward Thinking Design (established 2003). Vanessa is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, holds a Bachelor of Design (Hons, UNSW) & a Postgraduate Diploma in Museum Studies (Deakin). She is a past Junior Vice President of the NSW Chapter of the Australian Shop and Office Fitting Association and has over two decades of experience in business/brand strategy, user experience and design.

Vanessa has been the recipient of a number of business awards and has been profiled in ‘The Book of Amazing People’, ‘IF SHE CAN, I CAN’, ‘Entrepreneurial Heart’ books and several podcasts.

Vanessa balances her business life with training and competing as a trail ultra marathon runner and past Australian representative triathlete. She is an Ambassador for PKD Australia.

Vanessa was a Telstra Business Women’s Award Judge in 2018, and is often invited to speak at conferences and to write feature pieces for publication. If you would like Vanessa to present at your next event, or to contribute content, please call +61 2 8850 4977 or e-mail info@forwardthinkingdesign.com.au

Vanessa’s speaking engagements have included the Nutrition in Healthcare Symposium, Fine Food Australia and Commercial Drinks Expo, Vegan Business Owners, Rare Birds Business Conference, World Vegan Day, Triathlon and Endurance Cycling Expo, and the NewKind Festival.

Got questions? Vanessa’s extensive experience in Hospitality, Retail and Service Based Business Strategy, Planning, Development, Branding, Low Cost Marketing, User Experience, Consumer Engagement, Fitout Design, Project Management and Social Impact/Corporate Social Responsibility is available to your advantage, from anywhere in the world. Book a 5 minute chat or schedule an appointment via e-mail, phone or video conference. Contact Vanessa via Linkedin (https://www.linkedin.com/in/vanessacullen/) or here (https://forwardthinkingdesign.com.au/contact/).



(B.A Hons)

Chan Ly studied in the UK at University of Huddersfield graduating in 1999 with 1st Class Honours in BA Interior Design. She has worked in both Belgium and London and now resides in Australia where she is a member of the DIA. In 2008, after several years as a Senior Designer in Sydney, Chan left with her partner and 2 young children to go sailing the east coast of Australia on their catamaran. During her 4 years out of the design industry, sailing and travelling, Chan trained as a Breakfast Chef and greatly enjoyed her experience working in a commercial kitchen. We are glad she has re-settled and brought her creative talents back to design though! Chan and her family now live ‘off the grid’ in a National Park. Chan speaks basic Cantonese, enjoys travel, arts, yoga and healthy living, is also currently studying Natural Healing and Massage Therapy, and has recently adopted a Siberian Husky.


Natalie Adamou

(B. Landscape Architecture, Cert. Project Management)

Natalie studied at the University of New South Wales, receiving her Bachelor in Landscape Architecture in 2013. Since then, she has been working on a multitude of architectural and development projects as a Project Manager while also further upskilling herself, obtaining a Certificate in Project Management from the University of Technology Sydney in 2017. Natalie is a gun at coordinating approvals, organising people and getting things done - as a working Mum with a toddler, she has to be! Natalie enjoys challenging and fast-paced projects and finds these to be the most rewarding. When not working, she can be found chasing her daughter, dog, rabbit and running with girlfriends, enjoying great food and spending quality time with her husband and extended family.



(B. Commerce/Information Systems)

Lara is currently in her last semester completing her Bachelor's degree in Commerce/Information Systems at the University of NSW and is also undertaking a software development boot camp. She is contracting as an assistant and researcher to a variety of professionals, including as PA to Vanessa Cullen. Lara has worked on various consulting projects whilst at university and has invested in gaining loads of real-world experience. She has a flare for undertaking rigorous research to find tech-based solutions for organisational problems.  In her free time, you can find Lara either volunteering at a National Youth Organisation or binge watching a true crime docuseries on Netflix.



(B.A Hons, LLB, LLM)

Jason is Forward Thinking Design’s in-house legal counsel and provides advice to our clients and contacts, particularly around commercial property matters (including leasing). He graduated from the University of New South Wales with a BA (Hons), LLB and LLM. Jason has his own legal practice and is a lecturer at The College of Law. He has more than 20 years experience in all types of commercial property matters, buying and selling of businesses, brand and IP registration, commercial disputes and agreements. When Jason isn’t wearing his lawyer hat you’ll find him wearing a visor and running in any and every type of race he can find.

Scroll to Top