Following a degree in mathematics at Edinburgh University, Ken spent 18 months teaching in Tanzania before returning to a job as a systems analyst in industry in the UK. With African interests, however, he returned to university to undertake research on the policies and decision-making methods of voluntary organizations, particularly in East Africa. This eventually led to the award of a PhD.
Ken has held a number of senior positions in development charities: Head of International Service for the UK United Nations Association; Executive Director of the health care charity Health Link International; Deputy Director of the British Refugee Council and UK Director of the Intermediate Technology Development Group. He also served on the boards of various organizations including War on Want, Oxfam UK, the Council for the Advancement of Arab British Understanding and the Western Sahara Campaign (of which he has been Treasurer for the past 20 years).
In addition to, and as a consequence of, his international interests, Ken became actively involved in British politics. Having fought three general elections for the Labour Party, all in hopelessly unwinnable seats, he became a convert to electoral reform. In 1997 he was appointed Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society, a membership organization which has been campaigning for democratic reform for 120 years.