In the thirty years since Vanessa van Uden completed her education at St Hilda’s, she has had a diverse and interesting career path.
After leaving St Hilda’s, Vanessa attended Otago University, where she completed a Bachelor of Commerce degree. She married Peter Laurenson, who is currently the Manager of Building System Controls (acting) at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, in 1989. After university, she worked as a salesperson at Shand Computers, then spent four years working at Cadbury Confectionery as an accountant.
Her daughters, Caitlin and Laura, were born in 1994 and 1996 respectively. She then worked at Southland Boys’ High School as an administration manager before heading north to work as a Contracts Manager at Manukau City Council in Auckland. During this time, she also completed an MBA through Massey University.
In 1998, she returned to the South Island to join the Queenstown Lakes District Council as a Contracts Manager. In 2002, she started a company called Admin and Business Solutions, which she has run as a business consultant for 14 years. She became a councillor on the Queenstown Lakes District Council in 2007, and served as Mayor from 2010-2016.
Vanessa looks back on her time as Mayor with a positive view, pleased to have been able to plan and implement what she promised, including controlling Council expenditure and setting up Shaping our Future – a new way of community engagement. Her prudent financial management meant she left the Council with less debt than when she started. During her time as Mayor she was involved in a number of big projects, such as the Wanaka Recreation Centre, Project Shotover, Plan Change 50 and made significant progress in developing solutions to Queenstown’s transport issues. Being Mayor of the Queenstown Lakes was a challenging and rewarding role which she enjoyed immensely.