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Ordnance Survey Director General mapping out new career direction

01 April 2014

The longest-serving Director General of Ordnance Survey in more than a century is mapping out a new direction in her own career.

Dr Vanessa Lawrence CB, who has led Britain’s national mapping agency for almost 14 years as its Director General and Chief Executive has announced today that from 14 April she will focus for the rest of the year on the growth plans of Ordnance Survey internationally as Secretary General of Ordnance Survey International.

Neil Ackroyd, who is currently Deputy Director General and Director of Operations will become the Acting Director General and Chief Executive of Ordnance Survey in the interim while an open recruitment process begins to appoint a permanent successor.

In addition, in her role as Co-Chair of the United Nations Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management (UN-GGIM), Dr Lawrence will continue her work globally, with others, to assist the understanding, at the highest levels of countries, of the vital use of authoritative, maintained geospatial information that is so important for sustainable development, economic growth and security of nations.

Dr Lawrence will formally leave Ordnance Survey at the end of 2014 but she has been invited by the UK government to continue in her role with UN-GGIM after that date, for as long as the Member States wish her to be their elected Co-Chair.

Business Minister Michael Fallon said:

“At Ordnance Survey, Dr. Lawrence has made a very significant contribution to the development and integration of British geographical information into business processes.

“Ordnance Survey has long been regarded as a world-leader, and this reputation has been underlined in recent years with the creation of state-of-the-art mapping and information databases that underpin so many decisions in both the public and private sector in Great Britain. Ordnance Survey International offers the UK an opportunity to showcase British innovation and to develop new markets for UK industry abroad. I am pleased Dr. Lawrence will continue to develop this initiative.”

The Chair of the Ordnance Survey Board, Sir Rob Margetts CBE, said:

“Ordnance Survey was a pioneer of digital cartography back in the 1970s, but the completion of the incredibly detailed and multi-functional OS MasterMap database under the leadership of Vanessa Lawrence took us to new heights. She has led Ordnance Survey through some challenging times, but the outcome is not simply an indispensable national database created within an organisation that is a world leader in geographical innovation, but a strong public body that is now consistently able to return an annual dividend to our Shareholder, the UK government. We understand why, after 14 years, Vanessa feels it is time to move on, but we are delighted she has agreed, over the coming months to help us develop the role of Ordnance Survey International LLP which will assist the UK economy.”

Dr. Lawrence said:

“I will always be proud to have led Ordnance Survey through such interesting times, from the emergence of digital geography as a business opportunity to its position today where our products underpin so much of everyone’s daily lives from maps in mobile devices through to underpinning much of the information management of the London Olympic Games. Most people do not realise they are often using ‘geography in disguise’ from Ordnance Survey to make their daily decisions, whether it be when they are obtaining an insurance quote or when they are organising their travel plans using their Sat Nav or mapping from Google or Microsoft.

“I have worked with an incredible group of people at Ordnance Survey who have turned this iconic organisation into a very profitable enterprise that is at the cutting edge of innovation while never forgetting the historic roots from which it came.”


Notes to editors:

  1. Background summary biography -

Dr Vanessa Lawrence CB, HonFREng, FRGS, FRICS, FCInstCES, CCMI, CGeog is the longest serving Director General since Major General Sir Henry James KCB, FRS, in 1875, and the fourth longest serving in Ordnance Survey’s entire history, which spans 223 years; she was also the first woman ever to hold the post.

Dr. Lawrence received her business training from the publishing company Pearson plc. and then moved to developing for Pearson a successful start-up new technology business; prior to joining Ordnance Survey in September 2000 she held senior positions with international software company Autodesk Inc. In the New Year’s Honours of 2008 she was appointed as a Companion of The Most Honourable Order of the Bath (CB).

Among her many external positions, she is currently the Honorary Vice-President of The Geographical Association and a member of the Council of the Royal Geographical Society, the Honorary Colonel of 135 Independent Geographic Squadron, Royal Engineers as well as being a Visiting Professor at the University of Southampton and at Kingston University.

Contact us

For more information:

Contact: Rob Andrews, Head of Corporate Communications

Email: robert.andrews@ordnancesurvey.co.uk

Phone: (+44) 023­ 8005 5563

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