The executive chairman of one of Australia’s oldest and most iconic financial brokers and the marketing manager of one of the country’s leading oil and gas producers took centre stage at Friday night’s annual Griffith Business School Alumni Awards ceremony.

Karl Morris, who graduated from Griffith University in 1987 with a Bachelor of Commerce and joined Ord Minnett three years later, was named the Outstanding Alumnus for 2013 at a gala ceremony at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Sarah Bairstow, who graduated from Griffith in 2006 with a double degree in International Business and Law, was named Young Outstanding Alumnus of the Year in recognition of a flourishing early career in the energy and resources sector.

Karl Morris has been a leading contributor to the Australian stock broking industry for the past 25 years, while rising through the ranks of Ord Minnett to become its chief executive and then its executive chairman in 2009.

Managing strategic change of Ord Minnett’s business structure and maintaining the firm’s profitability during the global financial crisis are two highlights of a formidable career built on a solid but never static knowledge base.

“Education doesn’t finish the day you leave university,” he said. “Griffith University gave me an appetite for learning. It started a love for education that I’ve never relinquished. The best investment you can make is an education in yourself.

“Experiential learning is as important as formal education, so be open to saying ‘yes’ to new information. Embrace it all.”

On Thursday Mr Morris accepted the position of chair of the Stockbrokers Association of Australia, the latest in a long line of distinguished appointments to key boards and organisations.

He has made a substantial contribution to the community at local, state and national levels, and is an active philanthropist and a patron of education, the arts and not-for-profit organisations.

He said he was impressed by the scale and quality of the offerings at Griffith University today, and highlighted initiatives in his expert area which this year have seen Griffith Business School link with CSIRO to develop a superannuation research program.

Sarah Bairstow joined Santos in 2010 as a corporate lawyer on the $18.5 billion Gladstone Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) project. She later accepted a position as corporate lawyer with the project’s LNG marketing team before being promoted to the commercial position of LNG marketing manager where she is directly responsible for the negotiation of long-term sale and purchase agreements with some of the world’s largest LNG corporations.

She highlighted her training at Griffith as a key factor to her professional progresss.

“Griffith University is a unique promoter of change, encouraging students to think objectively and to seek out opportunities and solutions in areas not previously considered,” she said

“This mentality has equipped me with the ability to continually evolve in a business environment, to see change as opportunity and to stay on the front foot in a global business environment.

“I credit this primarily to Griffith’s encouragement of critical thinking, to challenge the status quo and to continue to pursue opportunities others may not initially recognise.

“I would advise current students to stay connected with colleagues, both old and new.

“You never know where life will take you. It’s generally the relationships you make along the way that serve as the best sounding boards for risks and opportunities.”