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Post-deal Aon leadership team make ‘personal’ pledges to the firm


Each member of the post-merger Aon top team revealed today has personally committed to put the combined firm first, according to an internal memo seen by this publication.

Aon today announced its executive leadership team effective upon completion of its combination with Willis Towers Watson, with Willis executives comprising eight of the 24-person committee.


In an all-staff communication obtained by this publication, Aon CEO Greg Case and Willis chief John Haley emphasised that the future combined firm will be a mixture of the two companies’ talents and stressed the need for a unified approach.

“Each one of the leaders we’re announcing today made a personal commitment to put the interests of the overall firm ahead of their own or any individual team,” the note said.

“They are all… true advocates of the one-firm mind-set that will be at the core of our combined organisation.”

They continued: “Our combined firm will require all of us to adapt and change, demonstrating how we are willing to collaborate and embrace shared goals that ultimately will bring the best of the entire new firm to our clients.”

The note also talked about the importance of the “new Aon” and “creat[ing] something new” through the combination. Part of this messaging acknowledged that change would be felt by all members of the enlarged organisation, not just former Willis staff.

“Our new operating model builds on the strengths of both organisations – and, it also will feel new to both colleagues at Aon and Willis Towers Watson,” Case and Haley explained.

The memo said one of the first tasks facing the new executive committee is defining how staff will work together after the merger closes, which will include executives setting priorities for their respective areas as well as “identifying the next level of leaders”, drawing from both Aon and Willis.

“The process will be fair and transparent,” the memo noted. “We will select and retain the best people across both organisations and we will build an inclusive and diverse team that shares a one firm mindset.”

While Aon’s and Willis’ management acknowledged that staff will be “eager for more details”, they noted that much of its organisation design and talent selection will take place after the merger closes, which is expected during the first half of this year.

Details of the new 24-person executive team were disclosed earlier in the day, as Case flagged a “best of both approach” in which one-third of roles went to Willis staff.

Notable appointments from Willis execs include a major dual role for head of human capital and benefits Julie Gebauer, who will become CEO of the health, wealth and career business, and head of strategy for Aon.

Willis Re CEO James Kent will become deputy CEO of the reinsurance broking business, with Willis corporate risk and broking COO Alexis Faber securing a big promotion to CEO of North America.

Anne Pullum, head of western Europe at Willis, takes the crucial role of chief innovation officer, a central position given Case's emphasis on the deal as a combination undertaken to facilitate faster innovation.

Adam Garrard, head of Willis’ corporate risk and broking business, will take on the position of president of the commercial risk unit and CEO of global broking.

Structurally, the business will be set up with three solution lines and five regions in a matrix structure. These three solution lines will be: health, wealth and career; commercial risk and reinsurance.

Aon currently has five solution lines including retirement, health and data & analytics services.

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