QBE has hired a former Willis Towers Watson executive as the new leader for its North American operations.
Todd Jones will be taking over as QBE North America CEO on Oct. 1, 2019, after having most recently served as head of Global Corporate Risk and Broking at Willis Towers Watson. He’s replacing Russ Johnston, who QBE said “has decided to seek opportunities outside of QBE.”
Johnston, an ex-AIG executive, became CEO of QBE North America on May 31, 2016, after a multi-year stint with AIG, most recently as president of American International Group’s $6 billion Casualty Americas operation.
Johnston’s departure comes as QBE’s North America business reported earnings for the 2019 first half. Gross written premiums declined 3 percent over the previous year to $2.8 billion. Net earned premiums, on the other hand, grew to more than $1.8 billion, a 5 percent hike compared to the 2019 first half, thanks largely to rate increases. The division’s combined ratio was 99.9, up from 99 in the prior-year period.
QBE proper is also in the midst of its “Brilliant Basics” program, which involves, in part, a revamp of its senior management team in order to reshape its strategic focus and create a more simplified structure. QBE gave no indication that Johnston’s decision to move on had any connection to this. The insurer’s announcement of Johnston’s departure included favorable comments about his tenure there.
QBE Group CEO Pat Regan, in prepared remarks, credited Johnston with helping to steer the insurer’s North American operations through major changes, having simplified the business and operating model in order to serve customers better.
“I want to thank [Johnston] for his valuable contribution to QBE over the last three years and for having successfully repositioned [QBE] North America as an integrated specialist insurer,” Regan said.
During his stint at Willis Towers Watson, Jones had also been CEO for Willis North America. He also held a number of senior roles at Aon in North America.
Johnston plans to stick around in a transitional role to help Jones get ready for his new job at QBE. Once he’s officially installed, Jones will report to Group CEO Regan and be based in the company’s New York office.
Jones’ departure from Willis Towers Watson has also led to an immediate changing of the guard there, too. Adam Garrard has been appointed as the company’s new leader for the Corporate Risk & Broking segment. Currently, he’s Willis Towers Watson’s head of International and a member of the company’s Operating Committee.