by Dr. Yvonne Thompson,
Vanessa Kingori, the youngest and first female publisher of British GQ and the first black publisher in Condé Nast UK history, has been recognised for her work with an MBE in the Queen’s 90th Birthday Honours List 2016.
Despite leading the charge of change within the media industry Vanessa doesn’t put herself out there as a role model, and I don’t call her a role model either.
I call her a REAL Model. Vanessa has in her own way broken down many barriers in established publishing in the UK.
Not only has she broken down those barriers for gender, but without being intrusive about it she also proves that the colour of her skin does not define her abilities.
Vanessa is one of the small but steadily rising numbers of black women who are now cracking that double glazed ceiling which guards the fiefdom accessible to mostly white males.
Vanessa, of Kenyan and Caribbean mixed heritage, was brought up by her mother as a single parent.
She studied management and sociology at Royal Holloway University of London after which it took some years of experimental career choices before she found her calling.
Before joining Condé Nast, she was fashion manager of Esquire magazine in the UK, and prior to that she worked on the Evening Standard’s ES magazine.
Asked what she was doing when she received the news she replies: “It was serendipitous timing. Usually my lovely assistant opens all of my mail discards the envelopes and only shows me what I need to see. When the letter arrived, she was on holiday and her cover didn’t quite feel confident enough to make a call on which of my mail to open and share. I eventually came across the letter whilst ploughing through the stack of unopened correspondence.
“I was pleased to be the one to open it and to retain the envelope which might have otherwise been banished to recycling. The fact the envelope is date marked and stamped from the palace makes it a great memento. It’s now tucked away with other reminders of great moments in my career.”
Friends and family can’t help but be excited about the honour.
She says: “They are all so supportive of how passionate I am about my work and the sometimes insane hours I put in. It’s an especially big accolade for my mother who brought my sister and I up as a single parent working all the hours she could as an NHS nurse.
“She strived to give my sister and I the very best education and cultural exposure. She was a huge advocate of expanding our understanding of the world beyond what was immediately and easily available to us. My mother was sometimes criticised for her intensity of drive. I think this honour, along with my sister’s success as a doctor of sociology at Oxford University, is extremely vindicating and exciting for her.”
But Vanessa is being coy as I understand that her mother’s who obviously brought her two daughters up to be winners, passed some of that success and determination gene down the line.
Kingori also received an MBE earlier this year in recognition of her contribution to her community, her 35 year service to the NHS and establishing a ground breaking successful healthcare business in her native island of St. Kitts and Nevis.
Vanessa says she hopes that the work she is doing in mentoring young people, will show them that no matter what their background is, great things can happen to them too.
She says that the reaction so far across the media and publishing industry has been fantastic.
“This is really something for the people closest to me whom have helped me get to a great point in my career” she says. “ Some are in the industry and many are well outside of it. Its a strong signal that the advice, time and positivity they’ve invested was and is worth it.”
More on Vanessa;
Vanessa Kingori Has Worked For Conde Nast Uk For The Last 7 Years And Was Recently Appointed Publisher Of British Gq Magazine In March 2015. She Is Also Notably The First Female Head Of The Male Dominated Brand In Over A Quarter Of A Century And The First And Only Black Publisher In Conde Nast Uk’s 100-Year History, As Well As Being The Youngest Serving Publisher Within The Company. With A Keen Interest In Youth Development, She Holds A Role As Visiting Fellow At The University Of The Arts London And Sits On The Board Of The Grange Premium Healthcare Facility In Her Native Island Of St. Kitts. She Is Also Noted As One Of Britain’s Overall Most Influential Black Briton’s On The 2016 Powerlist.
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*Author Dr Yvonne Thompson CBE FRSA spent over 30 years working in the communications industry as an entrepreneur. She is well known on public sector boards and has chaired the London Central Learning and Skills Council, DTI’s Ethnic Minority Business Forum, African Caribbean Business Network, being the only woman on a board with nine men, at Choice FM (the UK’s first legal black music radio station, now Capital Xtra).