Ken Allen AO

Advance Founder and Chair Emeritus
Global Australian Awards Judging Panel Chair (2012-2023)

In 2001, Ken was appointed Australia’s Consul General in New York and prior to returning to Sydney in 2006, he established Advance in 2002. Originally called YAPA (Young Australian Professionals in America), Ken is credited with establishing the leading global network of Australians living overseas.

Awarded an Honours Degree in Economics, Ken joined Unilever and worked in Sydney and London in various marketing roles, before joining Slater Walker Australia. Ken started his banking career with the World Bank in Washington DC, later moving to New York with Merrill Lynch where he was responsible for establishing their investment bank in Australia, pre-empting his subsequent role with Lehman Brothers.

Ken was an Advisor to Lexington in Australia and the Asia-Pacific region (retired 2019), Chairman of Allen Partners, a leading international advisory and placement agent and the Chair Emeritus of Advance. He has served as Chairman of Talent2 and on the Boards of the NSW Treasury Corporation, the State Bank of New South Wales, the Film Finance Corporation of Australia, Omnicom, Australia Post and The China Institute in New York.

Ken became a Member of the Order of Australia in 2005 for service to the business and finance sectors, to international relations, and to the community through fundraising for charitable organisations. In January 2021, he was awarded an Officer in the Order of Australia for distinguished service to international relations, particularly through global information sharing networks for expatriate Australian professionals.


Ken Allen AO’s journey from a distinguished World Bank career to becoming the Australian Consul General in New York in 2001 took a transformative turn amid the tragic events of September 11, 2001. Witnessing the aftermath, Ken identified the untapped potential of the Australian diaspora in New York—individuals disconnected from family and each other. This realisation sparked the creation of Young Australian Professionals in America (YAPA) in May 2002. Collaborating with influential figures in finance, Ken united Australian working in the US, then oversaw the international growth of YAPA and its evolution and branding as Advance. Read more about the history of Advance.

Advance created a Tribute Video to Carla Zampatti AC, which aired during the broadcast of the Advance Awards 2021. See here significant footage from the interview with Ken Allen, where he talks about his friendship with Carla and her influence on Advance and Australia.