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Willis Re names James Kent CEO as Cavanagh set to retire


John Cavanagh will retire from his role as the CEO of reinsurance broker Willis Re at the end of 2017 and the company has announced that James Kent, currently global deputy CEO, will take over as the leader of the firm.

Kent has been with  Willis Re since 2004 and has held the global deputy CEO position since December 2016. He was made President of the brokers North American reinsurance business in 2010, prior to which he led the Willis Re Bermuda operations. He previously spent 13 years of his career working for Aon Re (now Aon Benfield).

Carl Hess, Head of Investment, Risk & Reinsurance, Willis Towers Watson, commented on the news; “I am pleased to confirm James Kent will take on the global leadership of Willis Re. He and John have worked side-by-side for many years and share the same passion and enthusiasm for the delivery of superior client results.

“I would like to thank John for his tremendous contribution to Willis Towers Watson. 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.’’

Kent said on his appointment; ‘’I am honored to have this opportunity to lead Willis Re. 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 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. ”

Cavanagh has worked in reinsurance since July 1975 and has led the Willis Re business as chief executive officer since 2012. He joined Willis Re in 2009 following 21 years at the Carvill Group where he held the position of joint CEO. Before that, he 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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