Big player still has gap to fill at the top

by Maryvonne Gray 11 Jul 2014

Big player still has gap to fill at the top

AIG NZ is still looking to fill the space left by CEO Cris Knell’s shock departure to Vero New Zealand with no replacement yet named to fill his shoes.

CFO Debbie Wilson is still acting general manager until a permanent appointment is made, while also continuing her CFO duties.

Knell was poached by Vero to replace Andrew Aitken who retired on 30 June from his position as executive general manager - commercial and personal after nearly three decades working for the group.

Knell is reported to be starting as EGM commercial & distribution in early September.

Knell began his career at AIG in London in 1989 and worked a variety of increasingly senior international roles for them in Europe, Russia and Asia Pacific.

He was appointed to his first AIG country manager role, becoming CEO of AIG operations in New Zealand in 2010.

Having worked for the same company for 25 years, his only employer, the news of his sudden departure came out of the blue.

He has faced several challenges in that time, including a rebranding, multiple earthquakes and a pioneering sponsorship deal with the All Blacks.

He has also been a board member of the Insurance Council of New Zealand (ICNZ) since 2011, currently as vice president.

Meanwhile, things are looking positive for another CEO position that became available recently.

CEO of Allianz’ New Zealand branch, Bruce Watters, is retiring after seven years in the role.

He told Insurance Business there are a couple of candidates in the running at this stage.