Simon McKeon

Australian of the Year 2011, leading social entrepreneur

Simon McKeon is an Australian businessman, philanthropist and sportsman who was named 2011 Australian of the Year by Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

Although a prominent investment banker and record-breaking yachtsman, it is Simon's efforts to support multiple Australian and international charities which has earned him great admiration.

When Simon was a diagnosed with multiple sclerosis over a decade ago, he vowed to make every day count. So, despite a successful corporate career, Simon decided he didn't want to put off serious engagement with the community sector and in 1994 he transitioned into a part-time role as Executive Chairman of Macquarie Group's Melbourne office, enabling him to support a range of causes and organisations, including joining the board of World Vision Australia.

He has been a director of World Vision for 15 years and is a director of the Global Poverty Project. He volunteers as a counsellor for heroin addicts in St Kilda, and works with Red Dust Role Models which works with remote indigenous communities.

Simon is currently Chairman of the CSIRO and Business for Millennium Development, which encourages business to engage with the developing world.

Simon was the Founding Chair of MS Research Australia from 2004 until 2010 and has also previously served on the Boards of MS Australia and MS Victoria. In 2010, Simon received the John Studdy Award which is MS Australia's highest honour. He was also the founding president of the Federal Government's Takeover Panel.

In 2011 Simon McKeon accepted an invitation from the Hon Jenny Macklin MP, Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and Senator Jan McLucas, Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers to take on the role of Patron for 2011 International Day of People with Disability (IDPwD) and the National Disability Awards.

Together with crewman Tim Daddo, Simon has held the World Speed Sailing Record for most of the last two decades. A leading social entrepreneur, Simon demonstrates how business and philanthropy go hand in hand, giving tremendously of his time and energy to many organisations.

Simon McKeon has degrees in law and commerce from the University of Melbourne. He is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and also of FINSIA. Before he joined Macquarie Group, he practised as a solicitor with Blake Dawson Waldron in Sydney.