Finkel was educated at Monash University, receiving a doctorate in Electrical Engineering in 1981. He then served as a postdoctoral research fellow at the Australian National University, before leaving academia to found Axon Instruments, a global science and technology company based in the US. During this time, he invented a commercially successful device which substantially speeds up drug research.
Since then, he has used his wealth to found the science magazine Cosmos, an environment magazine called G: The Green Lifestyle Magazine and contribute towards a number of research institutes. During a speech at Monash University's 50th Anniversary Celebration Dinner, he announced that he would be endowing a Chair in Global Health for the University.
In 2006 Finkel was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (FTSE). In 2008 he was inducted as an honorary member of the Monash Golden Key Society to recognize his achievements. In 2009 Finkel was appointed as the Chief Technology Officer of Better Place Australia. In 2012 he co-founded Stile Education, an education technology company based in Melbourne, Australia, where he currently serves as Chief Executive Officer. In 2013 he was appointed President of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE). Since 2013, Finkel also serves as the Patron of the Australian Science Media Centre. 
- New Chancellor appointed by Monash University for 2008, 26 April 2007, Press release, Monash University
New Chancellor installed, 13 March 2008, Press release, Monash University
- Alan Finkel, In Conversation, 9 June 2005, www.abc.net.au/rn[dead link]
- Five minutes with our new Chancellor, Around Monash, Issue 19, Autumn/Winter 2007, Monash University
- Ancora Imparo, June, 2008, Monash Memo, 4 June 2008, Monash University
- Member of the Order of Australia (AM), It's an Honour
- Honorary Members, Monash Golden Key Society
- ATSE Board 2013, Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering
- AusSMC