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WTW adds four to Board as succession process continues

18th November 2021 - Author: Luke Gallin

International insurance and reinsurance broker, Willis Towers Watson (WTW), has announced that Inga Beale, Fumbi Chima, Michael Hammond, and Michelle Swanback will all join its Board of Directors in 2022.

willis towers watsonThese additions to its Board follow on from WTW’s announcement in August that Carl Hess will succeed John Haley as its President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

It’s all part of the broker’s previously announced multi-year succession planning process, which was revealed before its announced transaction with Aon in March 2020, and which includes planning with respect to the composition of the Board.

Beale, Hammond, and Swanback are all set to join the WTW Board on January 1st, 2022, concurrent with the transition to Hess as CEO. Chima will join the Board on April 1st, 2022, following the ending of another commitment.

WTW notes that the new directors were selected in connection with the Corporate Governance and Nominating Committee’s process, alongside the assistance of a leading search firm, and after engagement with one of its largest investors, Elliott Investment Management L.P.

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To facilitate the director transition process, Jaymin Patel will step down from the Board on January 1st, 2022. Additionally, Victor Ganzi has decided not to stand for re-election but will continue to serve as a member of the Board and as Chair through the end of his current Board term.

Ganzi, the Chairman of the Board of WTW, commented: “We have been very pleased with the response of Willis Towers Watson shareholders, including Elliott, to the strategic plan discussed at the Investor Day and the leadership transition.

“We look forward to continuing to engage with Elliott and our other shareholders as we continue the process of refreshing the Willis Towers Watson Board and moving forward with our strategic plan to enhance the value of the Company for the benefit of shareholders.”

In connection with the new CEO and the new Board members, WTW’s Board will launch an Operational Transformation Committee, designed to make recommendations to the full Board regarding the oversight of management’s initiatives.

The broker says that this will help to drive operational efficiencies and assist with oversight of the implementation of its operational transformation plan, which aims to achieve $300 million or more of run rate cost savings by the end of 2024.

Initially, Beale, Hammond, Swanback, and Paul Thomas, an existing Board member, will be members of the OT Committee.

Mark Wills, Portfolio Manager at Elliott, said: “We welcome the appointment of Ms. Beale, Ms. Chima, Mr. Hammond and Ms. Swanback to the Board. We believe these four outstanding independent directors have the right combination of skills and experience to support the Company’s efforts to drive superior shareholder returns.

“The Company’s focus now turns to successful execution and Elliot looks forward to continuing our constructive engagement with Willis Towers Watson and to supporting the Board as well as Carl and the management team in the coming months as they implement the Company’s strategic plan.”

When Hess assumes the CEO role, he will also join the Board, while current CEO John Haley will step down from the Board once his contract ends. Owing to all of the actions noted above, WTW’s Board will be made up of 11 directors, and on April 1st, this will rise to 12 with the addition of Chima.

The company emphasises that during 2022, the Board will remain focused on director succession. The plan is to shrink the size of the Board back down to nine directors, and in order to do this, two other current WTW directors will serve the remainder of their terms through the shareholders’ meeting but will not stand for reelection.

This means that at the time of the 2022 shareholders’ meeting, WTW’s Board will consist of nine directors, five of whom will be new and not on the current WTW Board, while the Board will also have a new Chair.

“We are very excited about our strategic plan and the value that we think that it will deliver to Willis Towers Watson shareholders. We very much appreciate the support of Elliott and all of our investors. As I near my retirement, I look forward to working with Carl, the management team and the refreshed Board to continue the transition and best position the Company for continued value creation,” said Haley.

Ganzi added: “We are very pleased to have Ms. Beale, Ms. Chima, Mr. Hammond and Ms. Swanback join the Board.

“Collectively, they add to the Board a deep and broad base of knowledge and a wide diversity of experience and skills. We are confident they will add significant value to the Board through their insights into the opportunities and challenges the Company is facing as it moves forward with its strategic plan.”

Beale is the former CEO of the specialist Lloyd’s insurance and reinsurance marketplace, a role she held from 2014 to 2018.

Currently, Chima serves as the Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer at Boeing Employees’ Credit Union.

Hammond is a retired senior executive with experience at several global insurance brokers, having most recently served in a variety of senior roles at Lockton.

Swanback currently serves as the President, Product and Platform, of The Western Union Company, a role she has held since 2020.

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