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Awards recognise outstanding business alumnus as a global change maker


Jessica Nelson
5 October 2018

After bouncing back from a $5billion burnout, World Champion sailor turned wellbeing and career strategy entrepreneur Bella Zanesco has been recognised with the Vice Chancellor’s Award at Southern Cross University’s 2018 Alumni of the Year Awards recognising exceptional achievement and outstanding service.

The Australian University, with campuses in Lismore, Coffs Harbour and Gold Coast on the country’s east coast, welcomed home more than 50 global change makers to the high-anticipated Alumni of the Year Awards and the inaugural alumni panel, with Ms Zanesco a headliner on the all-female ‘Conversations that Matter’ livestreamed event.

As a proud Coffs Harbour business alumnus, based in Sydney, Ms Zanesco created the wellbeing strategy company 'Wellboard', and 'Fully Expressed', a career and life strategy practice that helps senior executives create a holistic vision for their lives and use it to accelerate their careers to find greater fulfilment and performance outcomes.

Ms Zanesco returned to Australia just in time for the highly-anticipated alumni panel and awards, after launching her new book in the UK ‘Smart Girls Screw up Too - The no-nonsense guide to creating the life you want’, a holistic guide to creating a sustainably high performing and fulfilling career and life. Upon debut it outsold titles from Richard Branson and Sheryl Sandberg.

After “screwing up royally”, Bella reignited her passion for sailing after a seven-year hiatus as a tool to recover from burnout and depression, and took out the world sailing champion title at age 38, a feat she had missed out on in her 20s due, she said, to “self-sabotage”.

“I wrote this book off the back of suffering from burnout and depression in 2012, as a navigation marker of how to rebuild a life and career when my old career didn’t feel right anymore,” she said.

“After recovering, I surveyed 4,500 executives to discover that 70 per cent are suffering an energy crisis and this was impacting their mental health and performance and a similar number feel that their work environment or career isn’t right for them anymore. I started Wellboard to support organisations like Google and AMP to ensure their employee experience and wellbeing strategy worked to support individuals and teams to be sustainably high performing. I started Fully Expressed to support senior executives with a lot at stake to accelerate or pivot their careers to find more meaning and balance,” she said.

Bella has delivered $5 billion in new revenues to forward-thinking companies, was labelled ‘the best high-performance coach we’ve engaged’ by Google and donates 10 per cent of her time to support young girls to find their upside in Kenya’s Kibera slum.

Southern Cross University Coffs Harbour campus offers degrees in business and tourism and hospitality management in both on campus and online mode.

From 2019 students can study the unique combined degree Bachelor of Exercise and Psychological Science at the Coffs Harbour campus.