Tom Morrison Essay Prize

Tom Morrison Essay Prize

Enter The Chartered Governance Institute UK & Ireland's Tom Morrison Essay Prize which has been rewarding original thinking about key aspects of governance since 2016

Previous winners


Essay question:

Can governance be understood as a force for good? How can good governance lead to improved outcomes for organisations and their stakeholders during challenging economic and social times? Please draw upon examples where possible.

First Place – Josiah Wamwere-Njoroge

Josiah Wamwere-Njoroge is presently a post-graduate student at the Kenya School of Law in Nairobi, Kenya. With a strong foundation in law, Josiah earned his LL.B Degree from Riara Law School, Nairobi, where he honed his legal knowledge and analytical skills.

Aside from being a legal scholar; Josiah is an avid reader of novels and a passionate essay writer. He finds solace in the written word and has developed a love for exploring new ideas and perspectives through literature.

When he's not buried in legal textbooks, you can find him lost in the pages of a classic novel or scribbling away at his latest essay.

Read Essay

Second Place – Chris Jardine

Chris is an Affiliated Member of the Chartered Governance Institute currently studying on the Qualifying Programme. With a background as a modern linguist, he worked as a languages tutor before taking on a number of governance roles. He has a particular interest in governance within the charity, cooperative and public sectors.

Read Essay


Essay question:

Climate change: the existential threat of the century. Discuss the opportunity for the governance professional to be a part of the solution.

First Place – Tristan Weller

Tristan is a Corporate Governance Graduate at bp. Born in Australia and raised in Scotland, he studied International Relations at the University of St Andrews before completing his Master’s in International Development at the University of Edinburgh. He joined bp in September 2021 and currently works with the plc team, assisting with a range of governance matters including regulatory compliance and the dividend process. Alongside this, he is training to become a Chartered Governance Professional with his first exam in June. Outside of work he enjoys singing and running.

Read the essay here.

Second Place – Stuart Riddick

Stuart is a Stewardship Analyst at abrdn plc, a global asset manager, and is responsible for supporting stewardship activities including company engagement, voting and policy. Before joining abrdn he held roles as a Senior Company Secretarial Assistant and as an Operations Manager in the charity sector. Stuart is a Chartered Governance Professional and became an Associate of The Chartered Governance Institute in 2021.

Read the essay here.


Essay question:

'Post-COVID-19, what does the concept of ‘building back better’ mean for governance professionals?'

First Place – Tim Page

Tim is a Company Secretarial Trainee at corporate governance consultancy, Chadwick Corporate Consulting Limited. After graduating from Loughborough University in 2020, Tim joined the Chartered Governance Institute UK & Ireland and has since passed his Foundation Programme. Currently, Tim works with a variety of Chadwick’s clients providing board support, maintaining statutory registers, and working on a variety of governance projects whilst pursuing his ambition to qualify as a Chartered Governance Professional.

The theme of this essay is established in terms of the UK Corporate Governance Code. This keeps attention focussed on the role of the Governance Professional in enabling business to build back better. The author recognises the particular challenges created by the Covid-19 pandemic. The essay deals with several areas where changes have had to be made – technology, AGMs – each of which is firmly within the remit of the Governance Professional. There is a clear recognition of the importance of having a strongly embedded ESG policy, and of the key role the Governance Professional can have in enabling stakeholder engagement.

The essay acknowledges the importance of the Governance Professional in providing balanced, independent and far-sighted advice to their board.

Excellent referencing and an extensive bibliography contribute to this worthy prize-winning entry. Read the essay here.

Second Place – Lesley Millard

Lesley has been working in project management in education for thirteen years across a range of projects including academy conversions, new school openings, development of UTCs, bid and funding submissions, and free school developments. In 2019 Lesley launched a Clerking and governance offer through her role at GLK Solutions which responded to feedback from clients who were keen to source professional clerks with a deep understanding of academies and MATs. Lesley now supports a number of schools and Trusts across the country to provide a full clerking offer. Lesley has also completed external reviews to help boards identify clear action plans to improve the effectiveness of their governance. Lesley is a serving Governor of a large secondary school and sixth form in East Lancashire having previously been on the board of a local primary school. Lesley lives in East Lancashire with her husband, two daughters, and their third adopted ‘child’ (Ludo the dog!). She enjoys watching football including watching both her daughters play as well as being a keen netball player.

The author of this essay rose to the challenge of submitting an entry dealing with the concept of building back better exclusively in the context of one sector – School Academy Governance. The education sector was severely impacted by Covid-19 and lockdowns.

The essay shows how Governance Professionals were faced with the need to guide boards through the complex network of stakeholders whose different responsibilities and remits make the role of Governors and Trustees so challenging. The essay deals with the ways in which a strong, experienced and diverse board can deal with a range of issues such as: establishing priorities for the school; creating appropriate committee structures; designing teaching and learning strategies, and securing stakeholder engagement.

All of these and more were brought into sharp focus by the pandemic and the essay argues the crisis should be the catalyst for creating stronger and better academy boards in the future. Read the essay here.


Essay question:

'Could organisations more proactively address environmental, social and governance issues before being required to do so by regulation? How might this be achieved and what do you see as the role of the governance professional?'

First Place – Marieclare Peter

The winning essay met the brief by addressing ESG in the context of the fundamental question of the role of business – is it purely wealth creation or adding value to society in a wider sense? The author notes the evolution of ESG from its Corporate Social Responsibility roots. The essay then examines the relative advantages of passive and proactive approaches to ESG. The passive approach tends to rely on regulations with the company complying through disclosure and reporting. The author concludes that a proactive stance benefits the company by securing wider stakeholder engagement which is likely to bring greater long-term competitive advantage. The governance professional or company secretary is seen as central to the success of this approach, because of their key role in understanding the history and culture of the organisation and their unique ability to advise the Board “on the risks and opportunities presented by different ESG strategies”.

The judges were impressed by the breadth and depth of research shown in the essay (including excellent referencing and inclusion of a bibliography). Marieclare recognised the conflicts the topic raises for example between the desire for commercial confidentiality and the societal pressures for transparency. It is a well written essay demonstrating clear understanding of the complexity of the topic. Read the essay here.

Second Place – Firoza Dodhi

This essay clearly establishes the author’s belief that long-term sustainable value creation is dependent on proactive engagement with ESG issues. The essay acknowledges the necessity to comply with national and international regulatory standards. It emphasises the importance of creating a forward looking, innovative, ESG aware culture as a means of embedding a positive ethical stance that not only produces immediate financial returns but more importantly builds a positive long-term reputation. Firoza highlights the importance of the governance professional’s ability to scan the changing business environment, to interact with all levels in the organisation, to inform and influence the Board and thus “champion the development of an organisation’s corporate conscience.”

The judges were impressed by the currency of the research, the knowledge of national and international standards, the balance between the strategic and the mid-level issues and exhortation to adopt responsible ESG approaches. Read the essay here.

NB: The opinions expressed represent the writers' own views and not necessarily those of their employers


Essay question:

'In an increasingly automated world, robotics, AI* and other technological advancements are expected to have an impact on governance. Consider the opportunities, challenges, benefits and risks that such technologies might bring to the role of the company secretary'.

First Place – Leonora Rae

The winner of the 2019 Tom Morrison Essay Prize met the brief by looking at the role of the company secretary in a holistic manner, dividing the position into two categories. The first being to consider the intangible elements of the position, and the second being the social conscience of the organisation. In her essay, Leonora analysed minute taking, shareholder engagement, board automation and emotional intelligence. Read the essay here.

Second Place – Harry Matthews

The 2019 runner-up explored how technology has aided the evolution of the company secretarial role to encompass a wider range of duties. In his essay, Harry examined the benefits, opportunities, risks and threats of technological advancements on the profession in the context of their impact on governance. Read the essay here.

NB: The opinions expressed represent the writers' own views and not necessarily those of their employers
*Artificial intelligence


Essay question:

‘It has been said that governance failures usually happen within the subsidiary structure of a large business, but all governance focus tends to be at the main board level. Is the focus on the right area and, if not, what improvements could be made?’

First place – Elizabeth Colvin

The winner of the 2018 Tom Morrison Essay Prize met the brief by considering whether a main board centric approach to corporate governance is appropriate in a landscape that comprises a wide variety of legal entities. In her essay, Elizabeth considered culture and ethics and deliberated if existing corporate governance codes are dealing with subsidiary governance properly. Finally, she reviewed a number of measures that could be implemented or extended to improve governance at a subsidiary level. Read the essay here.

Second place – Indira Ramkissoon-Rambharose

The 2018 runner-up focused on the ethical aspect of governance success. Indira’s essay sought to illustrate that what occurs below board level and within the subsidiaries is equally important as what happens at board level. She explored the idea that an ethical framework constitutes the epicentre of successful business governance as it goes beyond the gaps left by legal provisions. Read the essay here.


Essay question:

‘The Annual General Meeting is an important governance process for the members of an organisation. It can ensure transparency, provide updates and give members an opportunity to vote on a range of matters. New meeting technology and virtual attendance products offer the potential to change the format of the AGM. With particular reference to governance, discuss the relevance, future development and challenges of the AGM.’

First place - Dr Rhona Sim

The winner of the 2017 Tom Morrison Essay Prize met the brief in challenging conventional thinking, looking widely at the organisational and international aspects of the AGM and its role in corporate governance. Although acknowledging the potential offered by new technology and electronic participation in the AGM, the essay focused on the substantive issues of meeting the UK Corporate Governance Code’s emphasis on ensuring accountability – with particular emphasis on the election of directors, the role of board evaluations and executive remuneration policies. Read the essay here.

Second place - Nicholas Cottrell

The 2017 runner-up explored the difficulties inherent in the current format of the AGM, particularly with the low degree of shareholder engagement. The essay examined the potential of using technology to run ‘virtual’ AGMs and questioned the extent to which this would improve accountability and transparency before concluding that the future might lie in holding ‘hybrid’ AGMs, combining traditional physical meetings with additional online access.
Read the essay here.


Essay question:

‘Does good governance require a fresh approach?’

First place – Ruth Keating

The 2016 winning essay took a broad overview of corporate governance, exploring examples of failed corporate governance and attributing these failures to an absence of belief in the true value of corporate governance, and a reliance on adhering to systems of rules.  Significantly, and very relevant to the competition, Ruth argues that good corporate governance should “reduce corporate arrogance by encouraging the views of dissenters!”  She concludes that corporate governance could and should do better, by ceasing to be a formality and becoming a way of business life.

The judges admired the way Ruth identified the problems, acknowledged the importance of culture and behaviour, suggested a solution and presented her essay as an enjoyable and thought-provoking piece of work. Read the essay here.

Second place – Rebecca Keating

Ruth’s twin sister Rebecca’s essay focused on the impact of new technology on corporate governance, dealing with concerns about cyber security and the paradoxical situation that occurs when engaged and collaborative employees are increasingly the custodians of corporate data - but at the same time become points of vulnerability in terms of data leakage, whether that leakage happens through negligence or malicious cyber-attack. Rebecca’s essay explores these questions and concludes that 21st century corporate governance must address data security in a collaborative way that involves not only a few key stakeholders at the top of organisations but each and every employee. 

The judges agreed that this essay tackled a specific governance issue in depth, that it took a fresh approach to the topic and was of practical significance to organisations.
Read the essay here.

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