As the Founder and Director of The Learning Circle, Vanessa Panayi has over 19 years of professional experience as a learning and development consultant in Sydney and across the globe.

With a true passion for personal growth and development, Vanessa works alongside businesses to unlock the potential and capabilities of employees and organisations as an inspirational learning and development facilitator. Practicing across the whole spectrum of learning and development, Vanessa implements comprehensive strategies from leadership capability, change and human behaviour programs to employee engagement, talent management, diversity and inclusion. Vanessa’s expertise as an organisational development consultant translates to her strong experience in facilitation, training, design and development of learning.

Vanessa has gained her experience working across a range of industries including construction, professional services, manufacturing, IT, finance and banking, FMCG, health, mining, co-operatives as well as within the public sector. Further to this, Vanessa has multi-national experience as a learning and development consultant, having led learning functions across the Asia Pacific region and built a learning function and team for a large business in Europe.

Vanessa’s experience has seen her work successfully alongside organisations such as Campbell Arnott’s, Allianz, KPMG, Optiver, NRMA Motoring and Services, CBRE, Richard Crookes Constructions, Diversity Dimensions, ANSTO, Actron Air, First Data, Little Marketing and MASH Marketing.

Along with a Bachelor of Economics and Masters in Adult Education, Vanessa is MBTI accredited and is currently completing a Life Coaching Certification, specialising in Career and Health & Wellbeing Coaching.



Milena McKenzie is a highly experienced Organisation Development and Effectiveness specialist, with a passion for developing and transforming organisations through their people. Milena has particular strengths in building high performance teams, through coaching and mentoring at all levels of an organisation, from executives to the frontline, to deliver tangible business improvements.

Milena has a wealth of experience working with individuals, teams and organisations, in areas of talent, leadership, culture, learning and diversity. Milena has performed a variety of general and executive management roles, where she gained first-hand experience managing within multi-national matrix-based organisations, as well as operational environments. Her business experience spans 20 years and she brings a broad base of experience and skills, across a range of industries, including Aviation & Tourism, Telecommunications, FMCG and Membership Services, holding both line and HR roles. In addition to this, Milena has experienced in a broad range of business environments and cultures involving mergers and acquisitions, divestment, downsizing, efficiency and cost drives and key business drivers, like customer centricity.

In her last corporate role, Milena played an instrumental role in shifting the culture from one of apathy to an engaged, aligned and driven organisation. As part of this transformation, Milena partnered with the CEO and Executive Leadership Team, to acquire key talent, coach, develop and mentor a number of these individuals and their direct reports, resulting in increased capability and achievement of their key strategic goals.

One of her proudest achievements was designing and driving a cultural strategy which delivered an engagement score shift from 45% to 82% as well as an overall participation of 98%, in less than 2 years.

Milena is a certified coach through the Neuroleadership group, founded by David Rock. Her passion in this area has been instrumental in helping shape executives and high potentials to build increased leadership capability, levels of engagement and motivation that has enabled the delivery of tangible outcomes. Milena is not afraid to ask the tough questions and has an innate ability to motivate individuals to deliver real sustainable change.

Milena combines her authentic style with an upfront and practical approach. She provides clients with a safe, open and supportive environment, where clients feel comfortable to explore the complexity and ambiguity of their work and/or personal situations.


Penny is an experienced HR and Diversity practitioner, specialising in designing, delivering and facilitating leadership, organisational design, talent and diversity initiatives.

Passionate about creating programs that deliver true business value, Penny’s depth of experience includes individual and organisational initiatives to embed effective behaviours, improve diversity and inclusion metrics and enhance individual and organisational capability and performance.

Penny brings a blend of experience having held several HR roles across a diverse range of highly regarded organisations including but not limited to Commonwealth Bank, Caltex Australia, Allianz Australia and Intercontinental Hotels Group.

A graduate of University Technology Sydney, Penny holds a Bachelors Degree in Business, majoring in Human Resources Development and Marketing. Penny is an accredited practitioner in a number of self-insight tools, including Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, Fundamental Interpersonal Relations Orientation (FIROB), Benchmarks and Voices 360.

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