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Wednesday, 17th April 2024
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Career Profile: managing an insurance firm Back  
People management, excellent communication, tenacity, relationship management and strong contacts within the broker and business community are key elements of Ronan Foley's job as managing director of Ecclesiastical Insurance in Ireland. He enjoys seeing change for the better in people and being successful in attracting new staff and clients. Working in Northern Ireland and all of the opportunities that exist there has also been a welcome addition to his island-wide role.
With more than 20 years experience in general insurance and having previously worked for Chubb Insurance Company of Europe, Fortis and AA Insurance Services Ronan Foley, managing director of Ecclesiastical Insurance in Ireland will oversee a €1.6m investment in insurance for the care sector, charities, schools, churches and historic buildings.
Ronan Foley


What is your educational background? Educated at Scoil Lorcain and Greendale Community School in Kilbarrack, Dublin. Roddy Doyle taught me English and Geography, Brian Mullins Irish and Physical Education. I studied at night for four years with the Marketing Institute of Ireland to graduate with a degree in marketing.

What has been your career path to date? In 1985 I started with AA Insurance Services in Dublin, working in various junior broking roles and went on to manage Autoquote services, the AA’s regional service centres. After AA, I moved to Amev Insurance, which was then a part of Fortis, in 1994 as senior insurance inspector looking after their key broking relationships in Dublin.
I then joined Chubb Insurance in 1997 as personal underwriting manager and later marketing manager. In 2004 I moved with Chubb to the south-east of England to manage their operations in the south, based out of Reading and London. I spent three very happy years there.
In December 2006, I left Chubb and joined Ecclesiastical as country manager for the ROI and now as managing director for Ireland, having recently merged our Northern and Southern operations.

Are your peers from similar backgrounds? Not sure but I doubt it!

Have you worked abroad? If so where and what did you do? Would you do so again? 
Yes, really enjoyed working in England and made some fantastic friends and gained great experience, particularly in the London insurance market. My family loved it and yes we would consider working abroad again but not just yet.

How would you compare career prospects internationally to those in Ireland? I think it’s possible to achieve whatever you want to achieve wherever you’re based, but there is significant opportunity abroad and it does your resum? no harm to get experience in different markets.

Have you undertaken any additional professional training since assuming your current role? I have an independent business coach which enables me to discuss key elements of my business life thus helping to keep me balanced and focused on the right things. It’s a key factor for me!

What skills/aptitude would you identify as being key/beneficial to a career in your sector? People management, excellent communication, tenacity, relationship management and strong contacts within the broker and business community here as it’s a relatively small market.

What aspects of the job do you like most? Transforming the business: launching the new brand and establishing Ecclesiastical as a serious player on the Irish insurance scene. I also enjoy seeing change for the better in people and being successful in attracting new staff and clients. Working in Northern Ireland and all of the opportunities that exist there has been a nice addition to my role. I still get great enjoyment from working closely with the team in Ireland.

What aspects of the job do you like least? Getting up at 5am four days a week to commute to Dublin. But this is a small sacrifice for the idyllic life we enjoy living on Lough Derg in North Tipperary.

How do you define success in your sector? Excellent service, professional staff and strong profits!

Is there anyone in particular you admire in your industry?
Michael Tripp, my chief executive for his unique strength, vision and caring approach to staff, the community and our customers. A previous colleague of mine, Tom Motamed, chief operating officer and vice chairman at Chubb Corporation for his ability to be able to deal with the complexities of running a massive organisation and at the same time taking a keen interest in employees and their views and circumstances. I also admired his practicality and calmness in the face of soft market cycles or when results took a hit.

What advice would you give to others who might like a career in your sector?
Get experience on both the broking and insurer side of things. Secure a business qualification as well as an insurance qualification. Work abroad at some stage in your career.

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