Professor Vann was born in the UK, trained as a civil engineer and worked in engineering consultancy before completing a PhD in the Civil Engineering Systems Group at University of Bristol in 1994.
He lectured in structural engineering at University of Bristol prior to moving to Australia in 1996 where he took up a similar post in the Faculty of Engineering at Central Queensland University in Rockhampton. During this time he pursued research interests in structural monitoring and artificial intelligence, as well as leading pedagogical change in moving the Bachelor of Engineering at CQU to a project-based format.
He held various senior academic and administrative roles at CQU before joining James Cook University in North Queensland in 2004 as Pro-Vice Chancellor Information Services and Technologies, subsequently Pro-Vice-Chancellor and, from 2008, was Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor with responsibility for the Faculties and Teaching and Learning.
Professor Vann joined Charles Sturt University as Vice-Chancellor in December 2011.
He has held a number of board and community leadership roles, is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, a Fellow of Engineers Australia, a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management and an Associate Fellow of the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation.