Tom Morrison Essay Prize

Congratulations to this year's winners: Elizabeth Colvin and Indira Ramkissoon-Rambharose!

The competition, which was launched in 2016 in memory of Tom Morrison FCIS, an active member and past president of ICSA and a highly regarded and influential member of the share registration industry, encourages new thinking and recognises original approaches to governance. Now in its third year, this year’s competition sought essay submissions that demonstrated an original perspective on the following topic:

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?

2018 Winners

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.

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

Previous winners

2017

2017 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.

2016

2016 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.

Competition supporters

ShareGift

Tom was an early supporter of the unique work of ShareGift, the share donation charity, which instigated the Tom Morrison Essay Prize and made an initial donation to The Chartered Secretaries’ Charitable Trust in order to establish it and fund the prizes.

Computershare

Tom was a much loved employee of Computershare, and each year Computershare hosts a dinner for the winners of the Tom Morrison Essay Prize. Tom joined Computershare in 1998 when Computershare acquired the Royal Bank of Scotland Registrars business. Recognised for his major contribution to making the acquisition a success and, as Chief Registrar, for being a senior steward in leading the UK share registration business forward, Tom is widely remembered for his significant contributions to the development of the UK securities industry.

Acknowledged to be one of the "fathers of CREST", for his efforts to guide and assist the development and successful introduction of the CREST settlement system, Tom also helped shape industry policy and UK corporate law. In 2012 Tom was given an Outstanding Achievement Award by ICSA to a standing ovation.

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Ceremony - 2018

Ceremony - 2017

Ceremony - 2016

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