Dr. Vanessa Chan
Professor of Practice in Innovation and Entrepreneurship
Vanessa Chan is an Entrepreneur, Angel Investor, Speaker, Educator and Working Mom. She is a leading thinker in innovation & entrepreneurship where she thrives at the interface of technology and business. Her specialty is translating technology assets to meet unmet needs for B2B, B2C & DTC companies.
She was a partner at McKinsey & Company for 13 years where she co-led their innovation practice and helped Fortune 500 companies with deep R&D portfolios commercialize their technologies. After McKinsey, she founded Redesign Studio, a company that redesigns consumer products to solve consumer gripes starting with her first invention, Loopit, tangle-free stylish headphones. Loopit’s launch was phenomenal, doubling the goal of their Kickstarter campaign, reaching the finals on the Today Show’s Next Big Thing and receiving a nomination for Rad Girls Product of the Year Award. Loopit is sold on QVC (where Vanessa has appeared), Touch of Modern, and her on-line store, www.redesign.studio.
Vanessa is now on her third career, at the University of Pennsylvania, where she is a Professor of Practice in Innovation and Entrepreneurship, the Undergraduate Chair of the Materials Science Department and a member of the Executive Committee of Penn Health Tech – a new center between the Schools of Medicine and Engineering, where their mission is to develop new transformative medical devices.
Vanessa writes and speaks on 1) how to successfully commercialize new products 2) going from corporate executive to entrepreneur, as an inspiration to others to take a more entrepreneurial approach to life and 3) work-life integration from the perspective of a dual-income family where both partners have intense, high-profile careers. Vanessa’s journey has been covered in various news outlets including the WSJ, The Washington Post, a best-selling book (I Know How She Does It), CBS and various podcasts including “Women Killing It!”. You also can find her very well received 2018 Penn Engineering Commencement speech at www.failingislikefarting.com.
When she’s not inventing new things, you can find Vanessa helping others succeed as the co-President of the Philadelphia Chapter of Ellevate Network and supporting new startups both as a partner Robin Hood Ventures (an angel investing group) and as the chair of the BRIC (Business Resource Innovation Center) Advisory Council for the Free Library of Philadelphia. She also is on the Innovation Business Development Advisory Council for United Technology Corporation (a $55B industrial conglomerate) and the Advisory Board for Charge-it-Spot. Vanessa is passionate about K-12 education and is a Trustee for Springside Chestnut Hill (SCH) Academy and a founding member of SCH’s Venture Incubator Advisory Board, where she has helped students bring their ideas to life, including her daughters’ own inventions and businesses.
Vanessa earned a Ph.D. from MIT, a B.S.E from the University of Pennsylvania, both in Materials Science and Engineering and holds three patents. Vanessa is married to Mark van der Helm, the VP of Energy, Waste & Facilities Maintenance at Walmart and despite their crazy careers are engaged parents to two school-aged daughters. She is an avid single-track mountain biker, downhill skier and world traveler.