Megan Barnes, Head of Company Secretariat, National Grid PLC, is being recognized by Diligent’s  Modern Governance 100 program. The Modern Governance 100 is a community of governance professionals who have been nominated for their innovation, resilience, dedication and empathy in the face of a complex and ever-changing world. 

The past few months have been difficult for many, but for Barnes, who took over as Head of Secretariat in January 2020, the challenges brought on by the pandemic were manifold: being an efficient leader in the face of adversity, navigating the complexities caused by COVID, helping global teams adapt to new work conditions and ensuring National Grid PLC’s stringent compliance standards were adhered to. 

Determined not to let these obstacles undermine National Grid’s compliance processes and to ensure the Company Secretariat team continued to function efficiently, Barnes pioneered critical digital transformation initiatives that not only enhanced governance practices but also facilitated better information dissemination for the boards and improved decision-making. 

“Megan has been key in supporting and engaging the Board during the pandemic to make sure the leadership can operate ‘BAU’ [business as usual] during challenging times across a range of time zones,” said nominator Nick Ivory, Company Secretarial Assistant, National Grid PLC. 

How Barnes Uses Diligent 

  • Strategic entity management: To centralize National Grid PLC’s corporate data across entities to ensure compliance, mitigate risks and improve governance. 
  • Board and committee effectiveness: To enable quicker preparation and secure collaboration among board members. 
  • Workflow optimization and efficiency: To shorten approval cycles, improve workflows and transparency, and achieve greater regulatory compliance and efficiency across the organization. 

Through innovative initiatives and efficient leadership, Barnes successfully enabled a positive change to support the highest governance standards across the organization. Undeterred by transitioning to a virtual working environment, the National Grid’s secretariat has published an annual report and accounts, with an enhanced Section 172 and employee voice reporting in line with the Companies Act and Corporate Governance Code, that has been recognized and praised by industry experts and has ensured the stakeholder voice is being heard in the Boardroom, with many virtual employee engagement sessions organized and a virtual shareholder engagement webcast put in place of the AGM. 

Nominated to the Modern Governance 100 for the impact she has made in her new role in such a short time, Barnes said, “I [had] only been in my latest role for 8 months when I was nominated, so it was quite a surprise, but it is really great to be recognized.” 

“In the past 6 months [Barnes] has embraced further additions in the technology space to support good governance through new verification software as part of the annual report process, enhancing our board paper process by implementing additional technology,” said Ivory. “This has also improved paper-writing throughout the business to enhance information reaching the board and support effective decision making” said Ivory. 

About the Nominee 

Barnes began her career in Company Secretaryship a decade ago, and has worked with industry leaders including Rolls-Royce PLC. At National Grid PLC, she worked across different roles in the Company Secretary team and became the Head of Company Secretariat in January 2020. 

About National Grid PLC 

National Grid PLC is one of the world’s largest investor-owned energy companies, committed to delivering electricity and gas safely, reliably and efficiently to millions of customers and communities across the US and UK. They are also driving change through engineering innovation and by incubating new ideas with the power to revolutionize the industry. National Grid continues to embrace cleaner energy and is focused on finding ways to decarbonize the energy system; from building interconnectors to allow the UK to share clean energy with Europe, to investing in renewable energy generation in the US.