MELISSA STERRY | Resumé
Design Scientist, Systems Theorist, Futurologist | Jan 2009 – Present
Design scientist, systems theorist, and futurologist to corporate, government, and NGO clients in the built environment, utilities, manufacturing, engineering, design, publishing, media, and communications sectors. Specialist subjects: systems theory; planetary futures; biodesign; bioscience; bioengineering; biotechnology; biomimetics; biofutures; smart materials; ecological urbanism; citizen science and STEM participation; future cities; urban resilience; disruptive technologies; design practice, strategy, theory and philosophy; cultural and social change; sustainability; business ethics; and corporate social responsibility.
A few past activities include expert advisor on world futures and impact to multiple market sectors, London (2016); contributor to a white paper on the future of events, London (2015); expert advisor/workshop collaborator on future cities and urban design, London (2015); expert advisor/workshop collaborator developing goods for the future home, London (2015); guest commentator in a broadcast on future cities for Voice of Russia (2014); participating as consultant/speaker in a workshop exploring the future home and living, Singularity University, California (2014); participating in a workshop developing future communications technology services/products, Millbank Tower, London (2014); participating as consultant/speaker in the 'Inventing the Future' think tank, held at the Royal Society, London (2014), and contributing to its subsequent white paper, which discussed what technical and scientific careers will look like in the future, and what science, engineering and technology-focused skills will be needed to satisfy these new occupations; and participating as a fellow of the British Council co-created UnBox Labs 'Future Cities' 10-day laboratory at the National Institute of Design, India (2014).
Keynote Speaker, Workshop Host, Facilitator, Presenter | Mar 2003 – Present
Contributed as a keynote speaker, panelist, panel chair and workshop host and facilitator to more than seventy leading international conferences, seminars, festivals, awards ceremonies, and product launches. Past clients include Manchester International Festival, Aegis Media Russia, Unilever, Methven, Interface, Accenture, NSG Group, Schneider Electric, Balfour Beatty, Grosvenor, Sheppard Robson, Chartered Institute of Building, NESTA, Longitude Prize, New Engineering Foundation: the Innovation Institute, A20 Technologies, Hershey's, Lux Magazine, TEDx, London Design Festival, Clerkenwell Design Week, London Design Biennale, Wilderness Festival, BioChanges, ADAPTr BioSalon, WILD: ReNaturing the City; Vision London, Festival of the Future City, BioEngineering Congress, Architecture Conference & Expo, Science Museum, International Conference of Bionic Engineering, Hay Festival, Ministry of Defence, Edinburgh International Science Festival, University of Cambridge (Festival of Ideas), University of Oxford (Climate Forum), and The Woman Leadership Conference.
Visiting Fellow, Visiting Lecturer, Guest Critic, Thesis Supervisor | Mar 2003 – Present
Visiting Lecturer and Guest Critic at The Bartlett School of Architecture at UCL (2014 - Present); Visiting Lecturer at the Royal College of Art (2016); Visiting Lecturer at the London College of Communications, University of the Arts (2016); Visiting Lecturer and Masters Dissertation Supervisor at Ravensbourne (2014); Visiting Lecturer at the Department of Civil Engineering, Architecture & Building at Coventry University (2014), at the School of Engineering at University of Warwick (2014), at the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (2012), and at the School of the Built Environment, University of Salford (2011); Guest Critic at the Unknown Fields Division, at the AA School of Architecture, London (2011 - 2012); Visiting Fellow at the School of Art & Design, University of Salford (Oct 2009 - Oct 2011); Assembly Member at University of Salford (Apr 2009 - Apr 2012); and Visiting Lecturer / Course Leader at the School of Fashion and Design, American Intercontinental University, London (Mar 2003 - Oct 2007).
Writer, Editor, Media Commentator, Figurehead | Jan 2002 – Present
Published in 60+ international scientific, industry and consumer titles, with coverage in a further 150+ more. Past projects include "Beautiful Thinker" (media figurehead) for Interface's 'Beautiful Thinking' campaign; feature writer and media figurehead for titles including The Guardian's 'The Future Designed Around You' supplement; consultant futurist and media figurehead for The Sleep Council's 'Bedroom of the Future'; contributions to wide-ranging science, trade, NGO, and consumer publications worldwide, such as The Drum and Green Futures; and author of 'Biomimetics: Learning from Life', chapter 9 in McGraw Hill Publishing title the 'Global Innovation Science Handbook', which received an Honourable Mention in The Prose Awards 2015.
Founding Director, Bionic City | Jan 2010 - Present
Bionic City® seeks to answer the question “how would nature design a city?” and examines the potential of biomimetics, biotechnology and biology in the built environment in the now, near and far future. Bionic City® creates its own original research, concepts and creative works, while also serving as an platform for collaborating and co-creating with leading interdisciplinary scientists, designers, architects, technologists, and artists worldwide. More information can be found at www.bioniccity.co.uk.
PhD Researcher, Advanced Virtual and Technological Architectural Research | Jan 2010 - Present
Researching and developing city-scale resilience to major natural hazard events through the creation of complex adaptive architectural systems that mimic the behaviours, relationships and systems of flora and fauna species. Initiated PhD research at the 6* RAE rated School of the Built Environment at the University of Salford (2010 - 2011), before migrating the programme to the School of Architecture and Landscape at the University of Greenwich (2011 - 2017). Interdisciplinary in genre, Melissa's reach spans science, technology, the arts and humanities, engaging both theoretical and applied research - metaphor and model.
Executive Director, Non-Executive Director, Board Level Advisor | Nov 2004 – Jan 2014
Executive Director, Non-Executive Director and Board Level Advisor to a handful of pioneering startups working in sectors including sustainability, digital, communications, media and the Arts. Activities included product and services research and development, writing/revising business plans, on-going strategic guidance and leadership, internal and external communications including branding, corporate identity development and marketing strategy, training and mentoring, setting up industry collaborations and strategic alliances, leading/co-leading sponsorship and funding, brand ambassador and senior media liaison.
Founding Director, New Frontiers | Oct 2008 - Dec 2010
New Frontiers was an award-winning interdisciplinary collaborative innovation programme that provided opportunities and stimulus for new sustainable design, running a number of seminars on the subject and facilitating online conversations through social media. Its 20 knowledge-sharing partners included Royal Society of Chemistry, Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Centre for Construction Innovation, Chemicals Northwest and the universities of Manchester, Loughborough and Salford. The initiative was guided by a 30-strong panel of leaders in sustainable science, technology and design for the built environment.
Founding Director, Societás | Jun 2004 – Nov 2010
Founded in 2004 as a creative catalyst, Societás comprised a multi award-winning sustainability innovation think tank, collaborative laboratory and strategic consultancy, which brought together world-class international creative and intellectual talent to co-create groundbreaking projects in design, media and the visual arts.
Co-Founding Director, Creative Graduate Prize | Jun 2004 - Dec 2010
The world's first online visual arts awards, Creative Graduate Prize kick-started the careers of talented emerging visual artists worldwide, bringing their work to the attention of international leaders in the creative industries. Categories spanned photography, painting, illustration, installation, short film and digital media. Supported by pioneering visual arts magazines, institutes, networks and galleries globally, the prize attracted entries and media coverage from several continents. Winners spread as far and wide as USA, China, UK and Europe.
Co-Founding Director, Iconique Societás Awards | Jan 2007 - Jul 2010
The world's first online fashion arts awards, co-founded by Melissa and Dutch creative director Joost van Gorsel, Iconique Societás Awards brought the global spotlight to the very best emerging international talent in fashion photography, illustration, and styling. A joint venture between top-10 fashion zine Iconique and Societás, the awards attracted entries from several continents and coverage in China, Japan, Russia, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, USA, Canada and Europe.
Marketing & Media Director, RClub | Mar 2003 - May 2004
RClub was the world's first online private members club. Projects and activities directed by Melissa included the launch a club members' magazine and the creation of media partnerships, promotions, sponsorships and affiliations with leading luxury brands and media groups. She was creative director/senior event producer of several high profile events, including fashion shows integrating state-of-the-art audio-visual VJ/DJ sets. Melissa was also one of the three principle directors of the world's longest-ever party. Lasting 29 days and comprising events for up to 1,200 club members, celebrities and press, the event took place in luxury venues across the UK and Europe, with all profits donated to UK charities.
Client Relations Director, LondonLaunch | Oct 2001 – Mar 2003
Having joined first-to-market online event network LondonLaunch when it was just a few months old to act as a consultant on its start-up operations, Melissa became Client Relations Director after 3 months. She created and implemented the strategy to diversify the company’s services into publishing, sponsorship and event production, brokered several media partnerships and organised a number of prestigious high profile networking events for industry leaders, including one dubbed the 'networking party of the year' by Events Specialist magazine. Further responsibilities included editing the company's event industry handbook and its quarterly magazine, directing marketing and communications activity including designing trade show stands and promotional materials, and anchoring sponsorship and collaborations with leading national and international event suppliers and venues.
Head of Business Development, Think Pod | Mar 2001 – Oct 2001
Think Pod was a cutting edge London design studio specialising in design for print, new media and packaging, which was in operation between 2001 and 2003. Melissa joined the young company to implement its start-up strategy. Her role involved organising the company launch party and press, writing/editing all company marketing/sales materials, client liaison and online marketing.
Freelance Digital and Marketing Consultant | 1999 – 2001
Advisor to first-to-market digital start-ups, including online style and arts magazines and e-tailers. She also worked as an executive headhunter on behalf of leading international digital agencies and dotcoms, specializing in senior and board level creatives for the digital and mobile sector, and undertook freelance research contracts working with the marketing and information technology departments of national and multi-national PLCs in sectors including telecommunications, finance and retail.
Fashion Designer & Fashion Buyer | 1996 – 1999
On graduation Melissa launched her own womenswear label, designing bi-annual collections, pattern cutting, managing sample collection production, organising fashion shows, liaising with press and media, designing and distributing all marketing and merchandising materials, as well as designing and managing production of fashion ranges for third party suppliers. Melissa showed collections at Alternative Fashion Week in Spitalfields Market and at the Islington Design Centre, London.
She spent 18 months working on the women’s sportswear buying team for a major high street retailer, working with brands including Calvin Klein, Farah, Kangol, Quicksilver, Levis and Wrangler. While practising as a fashion designer and buyer Melissa visited an extensive number of international fashion exhibitions, expos and shows including London Fashion Week and the VH-1 Fashion Awards in New York, while advancing her education as a graduate member of the Chartered Society of Designers and of the Textile Institute.
Work Experience | 1988 - 1996
Prior to launching her own label Melissa gained work experience with brands including Gul Wetsuits – where she assisted on couture collection samples in sport fabrics including neoprene for Hussein Chalayan. While studying her Bachelors degree, Melissa was also one of a select number of students invited to work on a design brief for Courtaulds for Marks and Spencer, in collaboration with Manchester Metropolitan University textile design students. Further work experience included spending 3 months in Cape Town, where she worked with a handful of South Africa's leading fashion designers and retailers, and spending a summer working as an assistant to the directors of the Laser Research department at Rutherford Appleton Laboratories. Prior to commencing her undergraduate degree Melissa held several part-time and freelance jobs working for early Internet / technology start-ups.
Not for Profit | 2002 - 2015
Committee Member, Take Heart India 2005 – 2012; Non-Executive Director, Anti Apathy 2009 – 2010; Steering Group Member, WWF 'Awakenings' project, 2007 – 2009; Head of PR, Sponsorship, Brand Affiliations & Fashion Show Production, ICAP/Laureus Sport for Good Foundation Annual Fundraising Dinner, Puck Building, New York, 2007; Head of Sponsorship, PR & Artist Liaison, The Big Issue’s 15th Anniversary Concert, Shepherd's Bush Pavilion, London 2006; Head of Sponsorship, Zandra Rhodes 'My Favourite Dress Ball', Hurlingham Club, London 2005; Head of Sponsorship & After Show Party Production, Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund Rock Concert, Royal Opera House, London 2002.
PhD Researcher, School of Architecture and Landscape, University of Greenwich, 2011 - 2017
PhD Researcher*, Biomimetic Architecture, School of the Built Environment, University of Salford, 2010
Postgraduate Certificate with Commendation in Innovation and Enterprise**, Business School, Kingston University London, 2009
BA (Hons) 2:1 Design Practice with Commendation for final year thesis, School of Art & Design, University of Salford, 1993 - 1996
BTEC Foundation in Art & Design, School of Art & Design, Cheltenham & Gloucestershire College of Higher Education, 1993
A' Levels Art & Design; History of Art; Fashion & Textiles, Gloucestershire College of Arts & Technology, 1992
Attended courses in couture, tailoring, finance and economics at institutions including Liberty Sewing School and Open University, 1996 - 1998
*Migrated research programme from University of Salford to Advanced Virtual and Technological Architecture Research group, University of Greenwich
**Specialisms included Intellectual Property Law; Business Administration; Finance & Accounting; and Marketing & Communications
Panel Participation Science:
Scientific Advisor, Biospheric IV, interdisciplinary science / arts project, 2016 - Present
Peer Review Board, Biological and Chemical Research journal, 2016 - Present
Scientific Committee, International Bioengineering Congress (Izmir) 2015
Scientific Committee, International Bionic Engineering Conference (Boston) 2011
Panel Participation Design:
Advisory Board, PopUp Forest (New York) 2015 - Present
Honorary Committee, World Biomimetic Challenges (Barcelona) 2016
Advisor/Collaborator, Biodesign Workshop (Izmir) 2015 - 2016
Panel Participation Futurology:
Advisory Board Member*, Lifeboat Foundation, 2013 - Present
*Member of the Complex Systems, Futurists, and Sustainability Boards
Panel Participation Awards:
Jury, Imagine London as a National Park City, 2017
Jury, The Rookies International Awards, 2016 - Present
Jury, International Design Awards, 2008 - Present
Jury, Architecture Conference & Expo Awards, 2016
Jury, Sustain Magazine Awards, 2012 - 2013
Jury, International Green Awards, 2010 - 2011
Jury, Sustained Awards, 2009 - 2010
Jury, Tosoma Online Public Arts Project, 2008
Panel Participation Editorial:
Contributing Editor, Unity magazine 2015 - 2016
Editorial Board member, City City magazine, 2012 - 2013
Panelist, Guardian Sustainable Business, 2011 - 2013
Editorial Board member, Sustain magazine, 2011 - 2013
Contributing Editor, Sustained magazine, 2008 - 2009
Professional & Academic Memberships
Member of the Aristotelian Society, 2017 - Present
Member of the Royal Institute of Philosophy, 2017 - Present
Member of the International Society of BioUrbanism, 2014 - Present
Member of International Society of Bionic Engineering, 2011 - Present
Member of PSFK’s trusted trends professional network, 2009 - 2016
Member of Association of Professional Futurists, 2012 - 2016
Member of Sustainable Design Network, 2009 - 2015
Member of Chartered Institute of Marketing, 2007 - 2010
Member of Chartered Institute of Public Relations, 2006 - 2010
Member of Institute of Directors, 2006 - 2009
Graduate Member of the Chartered Society of Designers, 1996 - 1998
Graduate Member of the Textile Institute, 1996 - 1998
Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts Fellow, 2008 - 2016
UnBox LABS Fellow, one of 15 UK creatives/researchers selected for fellowship in 2014
Visiting Fellow at the School of Art & Design, University of Salford, 2009 - 2011
Awards / Honours
Finalist, New Scientist / Sci-Fi London Film Concept Competition, 2016
Listed in the Libertine 100, celebrating women with complex, beautiful & potentially world-changing ideas, 2015
Listed in the 40 Women to Watch Over 40, 2014
Finalist, New Scientist / Arc Sci-Fi Film Science Competition, 2014
Best Innovation-led British Start-up/Initiative, for New Frontiers, Great Exhibition 2012 Awards, 2010
International Award for Benefit to Society, Mensa Education and Research Foundation, 2010
Special Recognition Award for Exceptional Creativity, British Female Inventors & Innovators Network, 2009
Special Recognition Award for Capacity Building in the Innovation Sector, BFIIN, 2009
Global Organisation Award Finalist, for Societás, Global Women Inventors & Innovators Network, 2009
Inductee of the Global Women Inventors and Innovators Hall of Fame, GWIIN, 2009
Enterprising Business Awards Winner, for Societás, WestFocus Awards, 2009
Everywoman Network Awards Finalist, for Societás, Everywoman, 2009
Listed in Future 100: Top 100 Next Generation Entrepreneurs, Global Entrepreneurship Week, 2008
Social Media Links
Making images and noise in studios; designing, visual and audio arts; creative writing; studying ancient civilisations, belief systems, anthropology, philosophy, and astronomy; history and theory of art, design and architecture; natural history and the Earth Sciences; sports - marine [inc PADI OW qualified scuba diver], equestrian, running; martial arts and combat sports [freestyle kickboxing, 1st Dan Blackbelt / CMAA listed; further training / belts in mixed style martial arts, wadō-ryū karate, cobra kung fu, yang t'ai chi ch'uan, and fencing].
"Melissa's ambitious projects aim to create the kinds of change that could plausibly help us out of some of the most serious environmental challenges we face as a society. A rare combination of a visionary perspective with excellent organisational and networking skills. I think we can count ourselves lucky to have her helping us design and build a sustainable future."
Director, EcoLabs, London
"Melissa has been a beacon for me in the past few years. She is one person who puts her money where her mouth is which is refreshing, invigorating, and all too rare. She is a one-woman fountain of knowledge; Well-researched, superbly distilled information is literally a constant - and she gives generously of herself to others with her copious wisdom and clear, informed, and astute vision of the future. More words and phrases that come to mind - smart, incisive, clear-headed and representative of best practices in approaching global business, design, innovation, sustainability, and social policy. Most of all, she's One to Watch and should be on everybody's go-to list."
Co-Founder Show Love LLC, New York
"Melissa is a smart, thorough and devoted scholar and professional with a great work ethic and enthusiastic, proactive spirit. She is a conceptual thinker to be admired for her approach and creativity."
Editorial Director, New York
"Melissa is incredibly creative and switched on. She has the ability to come up with fantastic ideas AND make them happen. Plus her industry contacts are legendary!"
Managing Director, Mickey & Mallory, Manchester
"Melissa is one of the few people I know who truly understands the meaning of collaboration. When I first bumped into Melissa, a fellow Future 100 entrepreneur, she was a breath of fresh air and a person I instantly warmed to with a genuine positive energy. Never afraid to speak her mind, Melissa talks sense. She is one of the best creative minds I have had the pleasure of working with. Melissa's contributions have been some of the best we have had. I would never think twice about picking up the phone to ask Melissa for strategic advice when making creative and/or business decisions."
Founding Director, The Creative Coop, London
"I was fortunate to have Melissa as my dissertation supervisor earlier this year and I could not have asked for a more professional and dedicated person to supervise my work. She always offered unparalleled competence, shrewd judgement, quick response to my lengthy emails and thorough feedback. Although my project took a couple of turns she remained a partner in my journey, her advise never prescriptive or limiting and her intervention always balanced perfectly to enhance my learning while making sure progress is steady. Melissa is a wonderful and supportive mentor who listens, who is able to bring out the best in people and makes every conversation a delightful and insightful experience. She is the type of person who would go out of her way to help in a variety of ways."
Masters Student, Ravensbourne, London