2022 Bertram Scholars

The CFGR is Canada’s only charitable foundation focused solely on supporting and disseminating governance research from a Canadian perspective. Each year, through the Bertram Doctoral Scholarships, the CFGR supports corporate governance research undertaken by Canada’s most promising doctoral students.

Mehrsa Ehsani, University of Calgary

Mehrsa Ehsani is a PhD Candidate at the Haskayne School of Business, University of Calgary, Canada. She has done her Bachelor's and Master's in Industrial Engineering and Management Systems at Isfahan University of Technology and Amirkabir University of Technology, Iran, respectively. She has won a number of scholarships and awards, namely Haskayne School of Business Doctoral Scholarship, Alberta Graduate Excellence Scholarship, Charles B. Locke Graduate Award, and Pre-Candidacy Award.

Research summary
Her research mainly concentrates on how businesses in resource-constrained environments maintain performance. Which decision-making strategies help achieve prosperous longevity for such firms? She has studied the impact of corporate governance, board of founders, as well as entrepreneurial strategies on firm performance. She also has explored the impact of firm life-cycle stages on the decision-making strategies, specifically exploration and exploitation.

Ke Feng, University of Alberta

Ke Feng is a Ph.D. student in accounting at the Alberta School of Business, University of Alberta. He holds an M.Sc. from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology and a B.Eng. from Beihang University, as well as the CPA, CGA(Ontario) and CPA(Illinois) designations. He began his public accounting career at KPMG and then expanded his accounting and management knowledge by working as a sales project supervisor at Anheuser-Busch InBev. He has developed valuable expertise in assurance engagements, financial reporting, revenue management, and six-sigma projects. His research interests center on corporate governance and information economics. He also has experience teaching accounting to undergraduate students.

Research summary
My research interest focuses on institutional investors' use of information from proxy advisory firms to vote on resolutions in regard to corporate governance issues. Regulators and researchers are concerned that two major proxy advisory firms, namely ISS and Glass Lewis, have undue influence on institutional investors' voting decisions. I challenge that concern and identify the extent of informativeness of discretionary investors, who conduct strategic research, in situations where a minority of voters automatically follow proxy advisors' recommendations. The goal is to find the necessary and/or sufficient conditions under which proxy advising leads to more informed shareholder votes.

Yingxiang Li, University of British Columbia

Yingxiang Li is a Finance PhD candidate at the Sauder School of Business, University of British Columbia. His recent interdisciplinary work on conflicting fiduciary duties owed by board members of VC-backed companies has been invited to present at top conferences and business schools such as the Southern California Private Equity Conference, Conference on Empirical Legal Studies, Stanford Graduate School of Business and London Business School, and won the Best Paper Award in the 2022 HEC-McGill Winter Finance Workshop. His previous research was published in the Journal of Financial Intermediation and featured by the Tuck School of Business. At UBC Sauder, Yingxiang Li taught Applied Financial Markets, a third-year undergraduate course on financial modelling with Excel.

Research summary
My thesis studies frictions in the financial intermediation of capital from limited partners to private firms, especially high-growth entrepreneurial firms. I am particularly interested in the governance of private equity funds and the limitations of existing fund organization structures, both of which have important implications for the portfolio firms, limited partners and their ultimate beneficiaries. All my projects aim to use previously under-explored data such as SEC Form ADV filings as well as fund-level LP capital commitments and cash flows. I am also exploring detailed contractual terms in each VC-financing round manually collected from firms' Certificates of Incorporation to study the preferred- common-shareholder conflicts of interest in VC-backed startups.

Isidora G. Sidorovska, University of Waterloo

Isidora G. Sidorovska is a PhD candidate at the School of Planning at the University of Waterloo. She holds a BA in Social Work and Social Policy, a Specialization in Community Development and an MA in Strategic Management. Prior to embarking on this PhD, Isidora spent almost 10 years in leadership positions in various nonprofits across Europe, specializing in community building and organizational development. Her portfolio includes an array of projects in the area of good governance, institutional reform and democracy. Isidora’s research interests include strategic planning, nonprofit management, democracy and public participation, nonprofit accountability, and the funder-grantee relationship.

Research summary
My doctoral research works to reaffirm the value of strategic planning in the nonprofit space by emphasizing the various benefits that come as result of the planning process and their relevance for the idiosyncratic needs of the voluntary organization. Through a comparative case study of high-performing social-service nonprofits, this project identifies the immediate outcomes of strategic planning and provides empirical data on their relationship with the characteristics of the planning process. Through identification of the factors for effective strategic planning in practice, the findings contribute to the development of a planning model specifically tailored to the needs of the sector and the unstable environment it operates in.

Paul Wilton, University of Toronto

Paul Wilton is a PhD student studying Higher Education at the University of Toronto. He has a Master of Public Administration from the University of Western Ontario. Paul has served on several local and national boards including as President of the Canadian Hemophilia Society, President of Hemophilia Ontario, Vice-Chair of the Canadian Organization for Rare Disorders, Secretary of the Urban League of London, and as a director at King's University College. Paul co-hosts a podcast, The Governance Guys, where experts in the field join to share lessons to help citizens make positive contributions to their communities through board service.

Research summary
Laurentian University's financial crisis suggests that the governance systems which oversee universities may not be able to adequately respond to increasing pressures. Scholars have written extensively on the province's role in overseeing universities and university boards' roles in overseeing university administration. Yet, little is known about how effectively these structures oversee individual institutions. There is a lack of detailed case studies that might illuminate the ways in which some of these issues are taken up at specific institutions. The problem this study seeks to address is the barriers that university governing boards face in identifying, preventing, and responding to financial crises.

Read about our other Bertram scholars