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Meet Vanessa Zabala, OWIT Int'l Virtual Chapter Member

27 Feb 2019 10:54 AM | TB OWIT (Administrator)

Meet Vanessa Zabala, a member of OWIT International's Virtual Chapter.  Did you know that we had a virtual chapter?  We do!

Vanessa is also the chair of OWITCon Tampa Bay and is on the lookout for speakers and topic ideas. You can email her at  zabalavane@gmail.com


  • How long have you been a member of OWIT Int'l? 

I have been an "official" member of  OWIT since the end of the previous international conference in Kenya. 

  • What drew you to OWIT?

I found OWIT when I was looking for women's organizations in the state of Florida in order to encourage them to invite accredited women to a conference my company was putting together in order to teach them what it takes to become an angel investor. Currently, about 94% of angel investors in Florida are male and women entrepreneurs receive less than 2% of that funding. In a pursuit to change those statistics, I called Jennifer Diaz to learn more about OWIT and our ability to partner for this cause. As we learned more about each other and shared my background in innovation tools, she invited me to be a speaker at the Nairobi international conference, so I went!

  • What do you do for work? What does it involve?

For work, I wear three main hats. 

1) Director of Impact Development for the Orlando Economic Partnership. I help set the culture and practice of intrapreneurship and design programs for the community to learn innovation tools for themselves and companies. 

2) Adjunct Professor at the University of Central Florida. I am currently teaching technological entrepreneurship to graduate students and also teach/ have taught social entrepreneurship.  

  • Where did you grow up?

I was born in Venezuela and moved to Miami when I was 8 years old. So I mainly grew up in Miami.  

  • Give us one fun fact that we might not know about you

I used to be a clown when I was in high school. 

  • Did you have any mentors in your life?

Many! and they are the reason I am where I am. Beginning with my parents, to teachers, and moved on to bosses and worked up the courage to start asking speakers at conferences and events I went to. It has been the thing that has taught me the most about managing work and life EQ. 

  • Who inspires you?

People who never give up and fight the good fight. One of the people that inspires me the most is Temi. She was my maid when I was in Venezuela and due to her inability to get an education, she did not become a business leader. She has the natural knack for it but because she was born into a family with few resources and in need of every family member to work, she was unable to get an education. 

  • What’s one piece of advice for women entering international business or work in general?

 Ask for advise and guidance. No one person knows everything and no one builds an empire by themselves. 


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