Rolls-Royce and M&S governance experts share ‘Governance Professional of the Year’ honour

London, 17 November 2021 – Nicola Caroll, Corporate Governance Director at Rolls-Royce Holdings plc, and Robert Lyons, Deputy Company Secretary at Marks and Spencer Group plc have been jointly named ‘Governance Professional of the Year’ at The Chartered Governance Institute UK & Ireland’s 2021 Awards, which took place at the London Park Lane Hilton Hotel last night. The Awards, which were hosted by BBC Breakfast presenter and Strictly Come Dancing contestant Dan Walker, recognise those individuals and teams who have excelled in good governance, helping organisations to better serve their stakeholders and society in the process.

Sara Drake, chief executive of the Institute says:

“Governance professionals make a significant contribution to organisational performance, and most especially to the effective working of the board. Still, the discreet nature of the role means that sometimes they can be an undervalued and underused resource. This is clearly not the case with Nicola and Robert who have both made such a positive and sustained contribution to good governance that the judges felt unable to separate them. Both Nicola and Robert have gone above and beyond to encourage, support and raise awareness of good governance, hence the reason they have both been named ‘Governance Professional of the Year’.

“Nicola’s nomination was littered with references to her stellar qualities: ‘Governance Guru’, ‘Innovator’, ‘Mentor’, ‘Straight Talker’ and producer of ‘Award-winning Work’. A major presence in the world of corporate governance for over 20 years, her peers value her unparalleled ‘knowledge, passion and enthusiasm for developing and celebrating a culture that embraces total commitment to corporate governance’.

“Nicola was described as someone with a formidable work ethic who delivers above expectations. This served her well in taking on the Rolls-Royce rights issue and recapitalisation in 2020, a massive and complicated project which, the judges noted, itself amounted to a wide range of achievements. The judges also noted Nicola’s role as a mentor, her commitment to nurturing talent supported by strong testimonials from just some of those she’d recruited and mentored.
“Robert was described in his nomination as ‘a thought leader in the governance sector, driving innovation and excellence both at M&S and more widely in the field, through his dynamic and empathetic leadership style’. He was also praised for his commercial approach to the many aspects of his role, which a colleague views as making him ‘unique among corporate governance professionals in his wide-ranging and beneficial impact across the business’.

“Robert has an impressive range of achievements under his belt, among them a digital AGM which built on the achievements of the previous year. In the views of the judges, his balance of creativity and commerciality was the enablement of creativity in others by empowering their choice of projects. The nomination underscored the fact that Robert is a leader, not a follower, enabling and empowering others to develop their potential.”

The full list of 2021 Awards winners can be found at 

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