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Meet Valli Morphett, Village Well CEO

Updated: Apr 18, 2023

Every month we will shine a light on the fabulous people of Village Well by sharing a staff profile. First up is our new CEO!

Name & role: Valli Morphett, CEO of Village Well

Where did you grow up? I was born in Adelaide but grew up in Yanac a tiny regional town in the Wimmera region of Victoria. Country kids get the best start in life - we grow up outdoors, get out in nature, take risks, make stuff, do stupid things and learn from our mistakes.

What is one thing that people don't know about you? I love getting out in the streets with chalk. At one point I was South Australia's only professional pavement chalk artist! A classic case of your personal hobby getting hijacked and productised. Sounds like a dream but honestly, when your hobby becomes work it can take the fun out of it.

What is your secret superpower? My ability to rapidly foster relationships, build trust capital and mobilise stakeholders on a project or initiative. EQ is a critical skill set in contemporary consulting - cultivate your emotional intelligence folks! It's invaluable.

What is one of your favourite projects? I have been working professionally for nearly 30 years and in this time have essentially had three careers: landscape architecture, community engagement and placemaking. During this pathway, the project that changed me the most was the Kingswood Town Centre Redevelopment.

Back in 2001 I was living in Bristol (UK), working for South Gloucestershire County Council and lead designer for a town centre redevelopment and mainstreet upgrade project. Why was this project such a personal catalyst for me? It opened my eyes to the power of collaboration, and the multifaceted benefits that may be unlocked when you treat people as the solution, rather than the problem (a professional mindset which was rife in the built environment consulting industry at this time).

Close liaison with traders, who were being impacted by the construction works daily, was critical. Programmed activations and campaigns kept people coming during the greatest disruption. We designed distinctive stainless steel furniture for the project which was manufactured locally in Kingswood. This meant the resource investment was 'kept local' and supported local jobs. I felt so proud to see our Made in Kingswood brand etched on the furniture.

Culturally focused art installations included brass pavement sculptures set into the pavement, collaboratively developed by the artist and local cultural groups. My interest in pavement art started here, but more importantly, this project inspired my career pivot from design to engagement and later to placemaking. I wouldn't be where I am today without it!

What podcasts are you listening to right now? Freakanomics Radio is always top of my podcast list. I just love how they systematically unpack human needs, systems and behaviours through an economics and research lens.

What are you watching right now? The AFL footy - I love it! Though my team isn't having the best year so far. Carn the Pear! (Port Power to those who don't speak the lingo.)

Who at Village Well is most likely to spend all day cooking up an incredible village feast? Gilbert Rochecouste, Village Well Founder. He is a maestro in the kitchen, but you better like it spicy!

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