John Haley will retire as chief executive on 1 January 2022

Willis Towers Watson (WTW) has today (16 August 2021) named Carl Hess as its next chief executive and president, following the firm’s failed merger with broker Aon.

He was unanimously selected for the post by the broker’s board of directors. Currently, Hess serves as WTW’s head of investment, risk and reinsurance.

Hess is succeeding John Haley, who will retire as chief executive on 1 January 2022. Meanwhile, he will assume the president role immediately.

Victor Ganzi, WTW’s chairman, said: “Following a thorough, multi-year succession planning process, including input from a third party consultant to assess the experience and attributes of potential internal and external candidates, the board is confident Hess is the right person to guide the company forward.

“Hess is an exceptional leader with a strong track record of delivering results, depth of experience and understanding across Willis Towers Watson’s various businesses and [has] a proven ability to bring together and motivate colleagues across the company to deliver value for clients and shareholders.

“We look forward to his continued contributions as president and future chief executive. On behalf of the board, I want to thank Haley for his years of thoughtful leadership and continued guidance during this transition.”

Smooth transition

Hess began his career at WTW in 1989 and has held a number of diverse leadership positions, spanning business segments and geographies.

Prior to his current role, Hess served as co-leader of North America at WTW - he has also worked as the firm’s managing director for the Americas.

Hess said he was ”honoured by the opportunity to lead this exceptional company of talented, resilient and dedicated colleagues”.

He continued: “I am excited to fulfil our purpose for the benefit of our clients and all of our stakeholders - to create clarity and confidence today for a more sustainable tomorrow.

”Thanks to Haley’s leadership, WTW is well positioned to compete vigorously across our businesses around the world. I look forward to working together to ensure a smooth transition over the next several months.”

Hess has also served as the managing director of Towers Watson’s investment business since January 2010. He also worked in a variety of roles for over 20 years at Watson Wyatt, including as global practice director of Watson Wyatt’s investment business.

He is a fellow of the Society of Actuaries and the Conference of Consulting Actuaries, as well as a chartered enterprise risk analyst.

Meanwhile, Haley added: “Hess has played a key role in the evolution and growth of WTW through his diverse leadership roles across our business segments and geographies.

“I’m confident that with his leadership, WTW will continue to offer a compelling colleague experience, innovate and adapt to address client needs, deliver significant value for our shareholders and better the communities in which we live and work.”