Rhianna Dean

Senior Consultant

Australia

I have spent almost two decades weaving a career in international and community development, human-centred design and sustainability. Throughout this time, I have worked across social procurement, renewable energy, sustainability programming, public health, child rights, education and social innovation.

My core skills are in design research, facilitation and engagement. I grew up working in my family’s restaurant, and I think this influenced my keen eye for creating inclusive and welcoming experiences and understanding the intricacies of good service design. This early training was followed up by many years of professional work and additional training in participatory and co-design methods.

I love working collaboratively with people to bring shared clarity and vision to complex issues, and having some fun along the way. Some of my favorite recent projects have included:

Designing a strategy and implementation process for the Australian Volunteers Innovation Fund – which included working with teams from DFAT and The Australian Volunteers Program (including various country offices) through multiple discovery, design, prototype and decision-making processes. A big highlight of this project was travelling to Mongolia to work with stakeholders from across the Asia Pacific region on the design of Fund initiatives and priorities.

At Social Traders I had the opportunity to work with a number of large Australian corporate organisations on their social procurement strategies, and introduce them to relevant social enterprise suppliers. It was always really fulfilling when a great supplier relationship would form between a social enterprise and corporate organisation. A few social enterprises I got to know well during that time are really relevant in the environmental space, such as Mates on the Move, Green Connect, Wildflower and Odonata.

An indulgent ‘project’ close to my heart was the work I conducted in 2012 for my Masters thesis. After spending a few years studying in Sweden, I chose to come home to conduct research into climate change adaptation in the Victorian wine industry. This was a topic that proved intellectually valuable, and had the added bonus of conducting research interviews at cellar doors!  

I have a Bachelor of Arts (International Studies) from RMIT University, a Graduate Certificate in Social Impact from Swinburne University and a Masters of Sustainability Science and Environmental Studies from Lund University in Sweden.  

I work in Sustainability because I think it is the most hopeful and proactive thing to do if you love being in the ocean, eating delicious food, standing under tall trees and seeing the people you care about thrive.

Pre-COVID, I would spend a lot of time ocean swimming in Sydney and travelling; I lived in Sweden and Cambodia for much of my 20’s and have close friends in a lot of far-off places.

For the time being I spend my spare time trying to keep up yoga practice in my living room, establishing a garden in my apartment block and exploring the streets of my new neighborhood in Melbourne. I’m currently investigating wetsuits to brave the colder waters here.

The jacket I’m wearing in my profile shot is from a social enterprise fashion label in Sydney, The Social Outfit, that reduce textile waste and provide employment pathways for refugee women. The print on it – ‘the lioness’ was also purchased from another social enterprise Studio A that provides income and representation for artists living with disabilities!

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