Colm Tully ACII, is Managing Director at Carole Nash. Phelim Murray, Senior Associate and expert in insurance recruitment with Barden, sat down with him recently (virtually of course) to chat about his career to date, and find out more about how he navigated a career in insurance to become one of Ireland’s youngest MDs of a leading insurance intermediary and brand.
In part one we focused on Colm’s early career and his days in First Ireland Risk Management and AON. Here in part 2 we zone in on his time in MAPFRE and the AA.
Phelim: You spent 7 years with AON in different roles including Mid-Market Broker, Sales and Development Exec. And Account Manager. In 2014 you moved companies, what made you make the move to MAPFRE?
Colm: I’d spent a number of years working with Aon and it was one of those things where I felt I was on the path to progression with the company – Associate Director was my goal at the time. While reflecting on my career I felt it was the next natural and achievable step for me. So, in 2012 it’s what I was aiming for and, when I got the opportunity to take on the Logistics business for Aon, that’s what I had in mind. I worked exceptionally hard for two years however at the end of the two years I was told that I wasn’t ready…not exactly what I was hoping to hear!
I had seen the opportunity with MAPFRE and said to the recruiter managing it to pass on my details.
The GM of MAPFRE asked that I meet them in Galway, so off I went to Galway to do just that. The meeting went well and I really liked the vibe I got. The role was also different and it meant a step up and into commercial management. It provided me with lots of new opportunities in the insurance and automotive spaces. It even enabled me to have my first foray into personal lines!!
The role itself was also going to allow me to continue building my relationships with insurers, but at a higher level. The company also promised to support my continued educational development, which they were true to their word on. Furthering my knowledge and education is something that is very important to me.
The offer was good, the role was good and the opportunity was good…too good to turn down so I decided to accept the role.
Phelim: And did it live up to all its promises?
Colm: In short…yes! I spent 4 years with MAPFRE and it was a great 4 years. The company Is like a family – yes, families fight but they are there for each other and that’s what you get.
The role was predominantly business to business (B2B) and this was quite different for me. For someone from a retail sales background, B2B takes a lot of getting used to as the contracts can literally be years in the making.
This was a great stepping stone for me…I ‘found my way home’.
Phelim: You mentioned earlier that “Furthering my knowledge and education is something that is very important to me.” In 2016 you completed the Advanced Diploma in Insurance (ACII). Tell us a bit more about that.
Colm: Yes, absolutely, as I got older (and wiser!) I realised how important knowledge and education are, not only personally but in a professional capacity too. In my younger years this wasn’t something I was focused on however as I progressed in my career I saw the benefit in it and how it could help to open doors for you.
I had completed several different qualifications with The Insurance Institute and the Chartered Insurance Institute and the Advanced Diploma in Insurance (ACII) was always something I wanted to achieve. It Is an Internationally recognised qualification which carries a lot of gravitas In the Industry and Is something which is a huge help when trying to gain the PCF approval from the Central Bank of Ireland
Phelim: The move to AA found you more in the product/new business side of things…can you tell us a little bit more about this?
Colm: Yes, I joined The AA (Ireland) in March 2018 as Head of Product/Head of New Business Development’. The product side is the insurance side. The new business side was back to my B2B side.
It was a great opportunity that allowed me to continue to develop in the retail side of things…a lot of the role was analytics driven and data was a huge focus It also gave me an opportunity to work with one of the biggest brands in Ireland and with some of the top insurance professionals around.
This step was really me trying to steer and progress my career. I’m a competitive and focused guy and what helped me was identifying someone and their role and saying to myself “I want to be in your role in 3 years”. Mark Watterson will probably still tell you that that was my line when I met him about coming on board… and he knew I meant It!
Myself and the team worked hard and if you’re willing to put the yards in you’ll do well. I learned a lot from Mark, who Is a brilliant retail distributor – He had a great ability to look at the bigger picture and to focus on the top 2/3 things, then drill down if needed which Is something I still carry with me today – , and from Brendan Nevin the CEO who changed how I looked at things strategically. I also got to work with one of the best pricing people in the country, in Colm Carey.
It was full tilt but a good move – the hours were long and the pace was frenetic. Getting to manage a P&L of that size, combined with the exposure to and understanding of the different component parts of the business was a fantastic experience. You work with sales, with marketing, with digital etc. My department was the gate keeper, I got exposure to everything so when I stepped into Carole Nash I had gained experience to it all.
Phelim: What do you think the AA saw in you?
Colm: Most definitely the relationships I had. People underestimate the power of relationships. It’s a really simple thing that people can do in terms of networking and keeping in contact with people. You’re never too important to be nice to someone.
There are people I’ll meet for a coffee twice a year, or a pint once a year. Getting your qualifications is a hard thing to do. Maintaining your relationships is the easy thing to do but it makes a huge difference.
Watch this space for part three of this blog series where we chat to Colm more about his career and his move to Carole Nash.
To read part one of this series click here.