Simon McKeon

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Simon McKeon

Simon McKeon 2011.jpg
McKeon in 2011
Born (1955-12-19) 19 December 1955 (age 64)
Dandenong, Victoria, Australia
EducationB Com, LL B
Alma materUniversity of Melbourne
OccupationLawyer, philanthropist, sportsman
Years active1979–present
OrganizationChairman, CSIRO (2010–2015)
Chancellor, Monash University (2016–present)
Spouse(s)Amanda Breidahl (1979–2011)
Heather Forbes (2011–present)
ChildrenFour sons

Simon Vincent McKeon AO (born 19 December 1955) is an Australian lawyer, philanthropist and sportsman. Current appointments include; Chancellor of Monash University Non-Executive Director of Rio Tinto, Non-Executive Director of Spotless Group and National Australia Bank Limited. He is retained by Macquarie Bank Melbourne as a consultant and is a fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. On 25 January 2011 he was named the 2011 Australian of the Year.[1][2]


After completing a Bachelor of Commerce in 1976 and Bachelor of Laws in 1978, both at the University of Melbourne,[3] Simon McKeon practised law in Sydney with Blake Dawson Waldron before taking up a post with the Macquarie Bank,[4] where he became the Executive Chairman (Melbourne Office).[5] He was Founding President of the statutory dispute resolution body for Australian public company takeovers, the Australian Takeovers Panel from 1999– 2010. He was also the Chairman of software specialist MYOB LTD 2006–2009.[6] McKeon was chairman of CSIRO from June 2010 until 2015, replacing Dr John Stocker.[6] During 2012, McKeon chaired the Strategic Review of Health and Medical Research, an independent review of health and medical research in Australia which recommended a 10-year strategic health and research medical plan for the nation. McKeon was appointed to the AMP Limited Board on 27 March 2013 and subsequently appointed Chairman of AMP on 8 May 2014, replacing Peter Mason. On 26 April 2016 he announced his intention to resign from the AMP board at the conclusion of the AGM in May.[7] McKeon is a fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, and is a member of the AICD Chairman's Forum and is the inaugural President of the Australian banking industry's Review Panel for the Banking and Financing oath.


McKeon is Chairman of Summer Housing which establishes independent accommodation for disabled people. McKeon was chairman of 'In2science' which places tertiary students in secondary schools as STEM mentors from 2013 - 2012. He is a director of Red Dust Role Models, which works with remote indigenous Australian communities. He is on the advisory board of the Melbourne magazine "The Big Issue" which seeks to create awareness about the issues relating to homelessness. McKeon serves as a patron of MS Research Australia, as an Ambassador for National Disability Services (Victoria), and as an Australia Day Ambassador for the Victorian Government.

McKeon served as an ambassador for the Northern Territory government's NT Australia's Ambassador Program which is designed to stimulate increased opportunities for business events in the NT, from 2013 - 2015.

McKeon was Chairman of Global Poverty Australia from 2010 – January 2015.

McKeon was a director of World Vision Australia from 1994 – 2005 and also served on the board of World Vision’s International's Vision Fund from 2004 – 2012 which has the responsibility for WVI 's micro economic development activities.

McKeon was Founding Chair of MS Research Australia from 2004 – 2010 and has also previously served on the Boards of MS Australia and MS Victoria.

He also volunteered as a counsellor for heroin addicts at the First Step Clinic in St Kilda.[8]

He was the chair of Business for Millennium Development from 2006 - 2014 and was also Chairman of the Board of the Association of Independent Schools Victoria from 2005 – 2008. He has previously served on the Victorian Rhodes Scholarship Committee, the Council of St Leonard's College, Victoria and also on the board of Beaconhills College, Victoria.

McKeon served as Chairman of the Federal Government's Point Nepean Community Trust from 2004 – 2009. He has been the Business Ambassador for the World Wildlife Fund's Earth Hour initiative and an Ambassador for Parks Victoria's Healthy Parks Healthy People International Congress 2010.

He has also served on the Federal Government's Human Rights Grants Scheme Advisory Panel and AusAID's Business Engagement Steering Committee.


In October 2015, it was announced that McKeon would succeed Dr Alan Finkel as Chancellor of Monash University in January 2016.[9] He has been a part-time lecturer with Melbourne University's Masters of Applied Finance and Masters of Laws courses and has been a member of the Advisory Board of the University's Centre for Energy and Resources Law. He served on the Campaign Board of the University of Melbourne from 2013 until 2015.

In October 2015, McKeon was conferred an honorary Doctorate of Public Health by La Trobe University.

Climate change[edit]

On climate change, McKeon has expressed his desire to see the topic raised to the top of both the "political and public agenda".[10] He said "We may not have all the answers to what is occurring, ... [b]ut the point is, why wouldn't one take out very strong insurance to at least do what we can to future-proof our well-being?".[10]


For many years Simon McKeon was involved with the International Catamaran Challenge Trophy (more commonly known as the "Little America's Cup"). McKeon served as helmsman for Australia's successful syndicate between 1985 and 1996.[4] Outside of the Little Americas Cup, McKeon and his sailing partner Tim Daddo held the world sailing speed record of 46.52 knots (86.16 km/h; 53.53 mph) from 1993 until 2004, set in their sailboat Yellow Pages Endeavour. An attempt to reclaim the record in 2005 from Finian Maynard (who surpassed McKeon and Daddo's record in 2004) failed when structural problems caused the destruction of their vessel's main wing.[11] In 2009 McKeon and Daddo, with McKeon at the helm, sailed Macquarie Innovation at a sustained speed of over 50 knots – the first sailing vessel to do so.

Along with his sailing achievements, McKeon is a Founding Patron of the Australian Olympic Sailing Team, and served as Club Captain at the McCrae Yacht Club between 2004 and 2006.[4]


On 25 January 2011, McKeon was named the 2011 Australian of the Year.

On 11 June 2012, McKeon was named an Officer of the Order of Australia for "distinguished service to business and commerce through leadership and advisory roles, and to the community as a supporter of national and international charitable, educational and sporting organisations."[12]

McKeon was named the 2011 ABF Australian Banking Ambassador of the Year.

In 2011, he was also conferred with the lifetime Achievement Award by the University of Melbourne's Faculty of Business and Economics.

For his contribution to MS Research Australia, McKeon received the John Studdy Award which is MS Australia's highest honour.

In 2013, he received Research Australia's Leadership and Innovation Award.

In 2014, McKeon, along with Harry Messel, was awarded the Australian Academy of Science's Academy Medal, which recognises scientific contributions other than research.[13]


Simon McKeon and Heather Forbes were married on 18 July 2015, on the Mornington Peninsula, Victoria, Australia. Simon has four sons from his first marriage, and Heather has two sons.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Oakes, Dan (25 January 2011). "Simon McKeon named 2011 Australian of the Year". Retrieved 25 January 2011.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 16 March 2012. Retrieved 16 March 2012.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ "Mr Simon McKeon: CSIRO Board Chairman". CSIRO. Retrieved 26 January 2011.
  4. ^ a b c "Simon McKeon". Australia Day. State Government of Victoria. Archived from the original on 1 December 2009. Retrieved 26 January 2011.
  5. ^ "Simon McKeon named Australian of the Year". ABC. 25 January 2011.
  6. ^ a b Atkins, William (21 June 2010). "Simon McKeon becomes CSIRO head". Retrieved 25 January 2011.
  7. ^ "AMP Chairman Simon McKeon to retire" (PDF). Retrieved 5 May 2016.
  8. ^ The Age 5 December 2004
  9. ^ McGinn, Christine (17 October 2015). "Simon McKeon takes top job at Monash University". Waverley Leader. Retrieved 20 October 2015.
  10. ^ a b "Macquarie boss gets CSIRO top job". ABC News. 21 June 2010. Retrieved 26 January 2011.
  11. ^ Guerrera, Orietta (12 December 2005). "Dream of reclaiming sailing record falls to pieces". The Age. Retrieved 26 January 2010.
  12. ^ "Officer (AO) in the General Division of the Order of Australia – The Queen's Birthday 2012 Honours Lists" (PDF). Official Secretary to the Governor-General of Australia. 11 June 2012. p. 27. Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 June 2012.
  13. ^ "Awardees for 2014 – Australian Academy of Science". Australian Academy of Science. Archived from the original on 9 July 2015. Retrieved 8 July 2015.
Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Patrick McGorry
Australian of the Year
Succeeded by
Geoffrey Rush