Barden’s Interview Series: The Life & Insurance Career of Colm Tully, MD, Carole Nash…Part 4

Barden’s Interview Series_ The Life & Insurance Career of Colm Tully, MD, Carole Nash…Part 4

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.

Part 1, 2 and 3 zone in on Colm’s career journey (follow the links below to read these).

Here Colm shares some of his best career insights and advice when it comes to navigating a career in insurance. He also tells us what’s next for Colm Tully ACII!

Phelim: What has been the biggest challenge in your career to date?

Colm: Holding down a management position while raising three small kids! We had a 2 year old and new born twins at one stage, so sleep was at a premium! Developing your family and your career in tandem is a challenge!

Phelim: Have there been any risks you took, to better your career, that have paid off?

Colm: Definitely moving on from Aon. It was the safe and sexy brand. If I hadn’t left Aon would I have made Associate Director on my timescales?…probably not. Moving to MAPFRE, which was not a well-known brand, was definitely a risk that really paid off.

Phelim: Have you had mentors during your career? Who were they? What was the one thing you learned from them that helped your career?

Colm: There wasn’t one specific mentor that I had. Everywhere I’ve worked I’ve tried to find someone I can learn from. A few key people that spring to mind include…

Linda Gallagher, Co-Founder of First Ireland, was always so focused on exams and gaining qualifications and she hammered that home to me all the time. We wouldn’t be the best of friends but Linda Instilled that inherent necessity to get my ACII so I’ll always be thankful for that

I think family is very important. John Kennedy, founder of Kennco, is my mam’s cousin.. He’s always there if I need to chat and or to hash something out – that’s been from the very start of my own career and remains true to this very day. I still think he was trying to talk me out of insurance initially!

The late great Colum Diamond was a great guy and a source of honesty – when I handed in my notice to go to MAPFRE he called to talk me out of It and by the end of the conversation said I’d be mad not to take it. I could always go to him and chat, or get advice, even just get a lift if you were down. He was such a genuine and good person; he’ll always be missed.

Overall I’ve learned to always have people you can trust so, when you meet them, hang onto them. Although it has to be a two-way street, it has to be give and take too.

For me it’s about always learning. You can learn something from everyone you meet.

Phelim: What motivates you? What drives you to achieve your goals?

Colm: I have that relentless hunger and desire. I’m always out to prove someone wrong. I love that adversity element.

What drives me forward – it’s the 3 lunatics downstairs, driving them on. I want to give them opportunities, I want to have them in a place where they don’t have to worry about the basic things, but know that you do have to work hard.

Ultimately my goal is I move into consultancy by the time I’m 50, the kids will be 18, I can take a bit of time off and work on my short game…

Oh and the money! It isn’t my sole motivation but you can’t pay the mortgage with happiness!

Phelim: What’s your proudest achievement to date?

Colm: Career – getting my ACII is tied with being appointed MD of Carole Nash. Personal – the birth of my kids.

Phelim: What top 3 tips would you give to someone starting their career in insurance?


  1. Give it time. If you do something for a week your sample size is small and chances are you won’t like it. There are now so many different things you can do in insurance. There is so much diversity in the industry – software development, HR, finance, marketing, sales, you name it. Just give it a chance.
  2. Don’t ever move solely for money…I did it once in my career, it was a mistake. If you have a path you want to move along for your career, moving for money will take you off that path.
  3. Keep learning – even if the experience is negative, and you learn something, it’s a good day. 

Phelim: In a previous edition of this series you mentioned you were advised you need to change your management style and be more ‘fearful’. What advice would you give to someone if they were told to act a certain way in their role/career?

Colm:  Well I did laugh about it at the time; whilst I’m a nice guy (I think) and always try to deal with people in a positive way, don’t mistake niceness for weakness. If a tough conversation needs to be had, I have no problem having it but I won’t ever have it for the sake of it. Ultimately there’s a balance between doing what you have to do to get to where you want to be and being able to sleep at night.

For me, managing people doesn’t boil down to one style or another, It’s all about adaptability and reading people. You have to be able to understand what motivates people, why they are here and where they want to go. Then you work with them…People get jobs because they have to but will stay with you because they want to.

If the players don’t’ believe in the tactics of the manager they’ll still play but without the passion.

Ultimately stand up for your own beliefs.

Phelim: And finally, what’s next for Colm Tully?

Colm: I work in 5 year blocks. Keep doing what I’m doing. I’m 3 years away from my next big milestone (in my head!).

In terms of Carole Nash it’s been pushing forward on group initiatives and using the down time to refine and optimise processes which reduce inefficiency. Every minute an advisor spends offline is a minute they aren’t working with our customers, so it’s vital that we get that bit nailed. Introducing more online and digital capabilities, maybe even robotics technology is in my line of sight. My goal is to get back on track and blitz the numbers In 2021 and make sure our staff engagement is as high as ever. What that opens up from a career perspective be that In Ireland, in the UK or wider a field…who knows. That’s the joys of Group life!

I’m under no illusions that the next few years are going to be super busy but good busy. I want to continue my personal development, my Masters has to come at some point! Probably an MBA. That will give me my fellowship of the CII too. And my aim is to have 30 years’ experience in insurance by the time I’m 50!

To read the previous editions of this blog series click on the links below.

Part 1 – The Early Days…First Ireland Risk Management, Aon

Part 2 – MAPFRE and The AA (Ireland)

Part 3 – MD of Carole Nash


About Phelim…

Phelim Murray is a Senior Associate with Barden’s Financial Services Firm. He is an expert in insurance recruitment and having trained in insurance himself he brings an experienced and unique perspective to building a career in insurance.

To discuss your insurance and or underwriting career, and what directions you can take, drop Phelim an email on and he’ll take it from there.  Simple.

At Barden we invest our resources to bring you the very best insights on all things to do with your professional future. Got a topic you would like us to research? Got an insight you would like us to share with our audience? Drop us a note to and we will take it from there. Easy.

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