John Allen (President, AIESEC Yale, 1961 and former Chairman of the Board of AIESEC, US) is a man on a mission! His mission is stated as follows: “to facilitate the peaceful transition from the nation-state to the global-state.” His inspiration for this came from the book, “Maskerado, Dancing Around Death in Nazi Hungary” written in the 1960’s by Tivadar Soros (George Soros’s father.) Soros said:
“In my view, international life will never be healthy until we change current notions of national sovereignty. Given the extraordinary technological advances now going on, we must recognize that such concepts are out of date and morally indefensible: we must place limits on the absolute power of the individual state. Not only does every state have a right to intervene in the internal affairs of another state if that state violates fundamental human rights, but it has a moral responsibility to do so. And what is true of states is true of individuals, too.”
John is uniquely qualified to pursue this mission because of his global background, his amazing connections and his insatiable curiosity.
His global interests began as an undergraduate at Yale University. He had already traveled to Europe, since his parents were in the diplomatic service in Paris, but Yale provided additional studies in Africa, Asia and Latin America. He also joined AIESEC which gave him the opportunity to take two traineeships– one in Paris working for the Aeroport de Paris and the second in Copenhagen with the Danish Institute for Mathematic Machines (their national computer center). He jokes that it was located on the grounds of the Carlsberg Brewery so he had all the free beer he could drink – including their famous “Elephant Beer” - “You drink three of these and you don’t stand up,” said his boss.
Upon graduation, following the pioneering efforts of Victor Lowenstein, John traveled throughout South America to help establish AIESEC in Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Chile, Argentina and Uruguay. While in Argentina, he had an AIESEC traineeship with Editorial Labor, a publishing company, and also taught English to his friends at the university. For entertainment, he rowed at the Buenos Aires Rowing Club and sang at the Colon Theatre when the Yale Glee Club came to town.
After returning to the US, he worked in the computer and machine translation business and became a registered representative with a stock-brokerage firm. He then moved to Boston to attend Harvard Business School where he received his MBA. At HBS, John was Assistant to Professor George Cabot Lodge and went to Central America to develop case material being used by Harvard’s new Central American business school “INCAE”.
Upon graduation, he joined the Bank of Boston and eventually headed their foreign investment “Edge Act” subsidiary, “Boston Overseas Financial Corporation” where he was involved with managing private equity investments in 36 countries. He was also instrumental in starting 14 joint-venture financial service companies with partner banks around the world! Two of these, one in Japan and the other in Venezuela, grew into multi-billion dollar enterprises.
While in Boston, John met Sir James D. Wolfensohn (subsequently head of the World Bank) and “Jim” (as he likes to be called) invited him to go to New York and be his assistant. John worked with Jim, who at the time was President of Schroder Bank & Trust Company, and when Jim left, John became President of the International Securities Exchange Corporation (“ISEC”). When “ISEC” was sold, John created a family venture capital company, Spring Investment Corporation, as a vehicle to begin and grow global investments.
John also became interested in global philanthropy and in solving global problems.
“I began to ask myself, what realistically can I do to make a difference during my lifetime? How can I use my education, relationships and global experiences, that I have been so fortunate to receive, to help change the world in a constructive way? Many people were interested in researching space, solving AIDS and in other current causes, but my feeling was that technologies were changing humanity in more fundamental ways, and therefore we needed better ways to manage them in order for our civilization to survive. As a result, my focus evolved into finding ways to develop the systems and financial mechanisms to address our global problems with a world view rather than national perspective.”
John was fortunate to become an early Trustee of George Soros’s Open Society Institute and was also asked to become one of three Trustees for the International Science Foundation, with George Soros and James Watson (who discovered DNA). During his tenure with these two organizations, he worked on the idea of a “DNA Account”, which is a digital investment account linked directly to a person’s DNA - the only infallible identity system. The DNA account can provide money for life’s basic necessities while avoiding both corruption and bureaucracy.
John has also been involved with other organizations that helped develop his global thinking. He served as the Vice Chairman for the Business Council for the United Nations and he is also a director of The World Policy Institute.
“One of the initiatives that we are working on in The World Policy Institute is ‘Global Citizenry’. The first part is ‘Global Connect’ that links organizations like AIESEC as well as others like Ashoka, The World Economic Forum Young Global Leaders, etc. The second part is ‘Global Solutions’ which draws upon the Global Connect network to define issues and solutions in a dynamic, Wikipedia-like digital forum. The third part is ‘Global Recognition’, an incentive system including a unique DNA linked identity as a ‘Global Citizen’ and an annual ‘Global Citizen Award’ to be delivered by the Secretary General of the UN along with a Global Passport signed and sealed by all member countries, granting honorary world citizenship to the awardee.”
On the business front, John is Chairman of Greater China Corporation and is working on creating something called Global Investors Ltd., designed to be the first truly global investment vehicle. It is structured as a large-cap, NYSE listed, Bermuda-based company that invests in both portfolio and operating entities and alternative investments anywhere in the world and in any type of instrument. He is also developing a globally-linked network of “Turtlesnap Venture Incubators” that provides the initial funding (a $1 million line of credit) and all the systems and disciplines necessary to start, rather than invest-in existing enterprises. This process of “Ready, Aim, Fire” can eliminate many of the problems and costs associated with many new company formations.
John has also written papers and given talks on global issues including “Integrating Latin American Capital Markets”, “Making the Transition From a Barter to a Moneyed Economy in Rural Communities”, “Transformational Technologies”, “China’s Role in Backstopping the Euro”, “China’ Role in Developing a new Global Reserve Currency” and “Building a Truly Global (like the UN) Financial Center”.
John explains why he is involved in so many things:
“I have a tremendous sense of urgency to get things done. Technology is changing our lives at an accelerating pace, and our government, business and social systems are not keeping up. Cyber Security, Nuclear proliferation, Pandemic diseases, Financial breakdowns, Environmental destruction, -- so many areas that can lead to a collapse of our civilization if we don’t take action now.”
John credits AIESEC with giving him the start that he needed.
“AIESEC was the vehicle that gave me the opportunity to see the world, learn languages, meet people, and to develop a truly global perspective. These AIESEC experiences also helped me to get into the great schools I attended and to get the jobs and trusteeships I received. AIESEC also provided me with the best family anyone can ever have – one that is truly global – since I know that anywhere I go in the world I can always find an AIESEC soul-mate.”
If you are interested in learning more about John’s activities, you can email him at email@example.com.