New Willis Re global CEO appointed

New head revealed as current leader and industry veteran says “it is time to move on.”

New Willis Re global CEO appointed

Insurance News

By Lucy Hook

Reinsurer Willis Re has today announced that global CEO John Cavanagh will be succeeded by James Kent as he steps down from the role.

Kent, previously deputy global CEO at the firm, will take over at the helm of the reinsurance arm of Willis Towers Watson at the end of December this year, with Cavanagh retiring.

The new head first joined Willis Re in 2004 and has served as the global deputy CEO since December 2016. He was appointed president of Willis’ North American business in 2010, running the firm’s Bermuda operations prior to that. Before Willis, he spent 13 years working with Aon Re (now Aon Benfield).

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Carl Hess, head of investment, risk & reinsurance, Willis Towers Watson, thanked Cavanagh for his “tremendous contribution,” to the firm, adding that the current leader has worked side-by-side with his replacement Kent for many years, and that the pair “share the same passion and enthusiasm for the delivery of superior client results,” he commented.

“Not only is John a recognized leader of the Willis Re business, he is also a leading figure in the global reinsurance industry. John has been instrumental in creating the reinsurance business we have today and will leave a strong legacy,” Hess said of the retiring CEO.

Speaking of his new role, Kent said he was honored by the opportunity to lead Willis Re, going on to say: “It has been a pleasure to work with John over the past few years to cement Willis Re’s position as one of the world’s leading reinsurance advisors. It is also appropriate that John’s significant contribution to our industry is recognized as it marks exactly 42 years to the day since he began his career in reinsurance. In succeeding John, I look forward to further enhancing our proposition to help clients effectively manage their risk while building on the collaborative culture so integral to our proposition for both clients and colleagues.”

Cavanagh, who began his career in the (re)insurance market in July 1975 and has led the Willis Re business as CEO since 2012, said: “It has been a privilege to serve as CEO of Willis Re, where we have successfully grown the business in the face of very tough market conditions. I am delighted that James Kent is taking over from me as global head; he is an exceptional talent and I have no doubt Willis Re will continue to go from strength to strength under his leadership. I have enjoyed a fantastic career in reinsurance broking, but it is now time to move on.”

The industry veteran joined Willis Re in 2009, having spent 21 years at the Carvill Group where he was joint CEO, and prior to that was the deputy managing director of Minet Re, and a director of the North America reinsurance division at Willis Faber and Dumas.

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