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Back to news23 Mar 2021

Julie McCarthy is retiring – A unique “one-company” legend

It is with a heavy heart, but a glorious thank you that we are bidding farewell to our Business Partner Julie McCarthy, who has decided to put down the laptop and take retirement at the end of March. For everything you have done Julie, thank you.

Retirement will enable Julie to go back to her childhood dream and spend more time with her horses. For anyone who knows Julie, horses are her passion and she is a successful competitor on the dressage circuit.

Julie has been involved with horses & ponies since an early age – doing everything from gymkhana’s, equitation, hunting, team chasing and show jumping as well as judging at local events. However, having bred her horse Fern (by a son of Bustino) they took part in county level showing with ribbons at events such as RIHS, Lancashire and Cheshire County. More recently with Lex, who came all the way from Lithuania, she turned her hand to British Dressage and they’ve progressed to Medium level with successes at Regional Championships.

Julie McCarthy is most likely unique in today’s world as she can be classed as a one-company woman going through the exit door 44.5 years after entering. So how did Julie start her insurance career?

Julie wanted to work in racing stables as a girl growing up and hence her lifelong passion for horses. However, her mother made her take a secretarial course which lead to her first interview at a long established Insurance Brokers in Blackburn and Julie’s first job as a junior. She cried.

Her junior role at Joseph Watson & Son did not involve making the tea! They had a tea lady – Dorothy – who came in twice a day to brew up for the office.

Julie’s duties involved many junior roles, post, typing, telex messaging. The telex enabled Julie to find out more about medical, hospital and prison procedures in the Middle East as well as carnets and they dealt with a lot of haulage contractors who had a lot of incidents whilst in the area.

Julie was also responsible for delivering the local post to Insurers, not as bad as it may sound as the Royal were downstairs, Commercial Union at the bottom of the road, Guardian down the terrace, by the park were Provincial and on the way back Eagle Star in the Insurance Town called Blackburn.

It was a different world then: Julie’s career developed under Managing Director David Watson. She got involved in their Delegated Authority Scottish Union Household Scheme, doing the renewals on a manual basis and working out all by hand and keeping the records on cards in a filing cabinet. They settled claims and decided on the terms. Julie’s success saw her take on additional schemes with Royal and Ecclesiastical and more cards for the cabinet.

Anyone who knows Julie knows how talented she is and even back in her early career this was noticed. She moved into Private Car and fondly (if that is the word) remembers rating guides and manual processing and then technology introduced Microfiche to make life easier. Julie now had responsibility for the Personal Lines team.

Julie continued expanding her skills by taking on Motor Fleet and at the same time experienced her first takeover as they were acquired by Stewart Wrightson, who not long afterward were acquired by Willis and so kept that one company trend that is so rare.

The Company then made another local acquisition of Garratt Son and Flowerdew who had a great book in the public service sector which brought in relationships and Julie was now heading the Fleet team and had GA Bonus, Commercial Union and RSA underwriters in their office. Julie continued to run the Broking team and latterly became the Operations Manager for the Preston office of Willis Ltd.

The concept of Networks was mooted, and as we know became a reality in 1999. Julie was approached to help launch and grow what we all know to be the success it is today, and Julie leaves with her Network being an award-winning Network of the Year.

Over the past 21 years Julie McCarthy has been an integral part of Networks. Building relationships with the independent brokers, who became Network Members and ensuring that their business grows with the resources of Willis Towers Watson. It is not an understatement that Julie has demonstrated her value to Network and our Network Members and has left a fond memory with all who have dealt with Julie.

Looking back at how the industry has changed, since Julie started her career, back to 1976, we had the Cod Wars, Concorde’s first commercial flight took off to Bahrain, The National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham was opened by The Queen, John Curry wins Gold at the Winter Olympics, Brent Cross opened, the first Body Shop opened, James Hunt becomes Formula 1 Champion, the InterCity 125 train was introduced and we had the Heatwave summer.

As Julie looks back over her career her sage advice to anyone starting out “look, listen and learn from senior colleagues – embrace change, it is always for the best and if you have any issues, speak out to your manager”, and what would she have told herself? “ignore your mother and follow your dream!”.

Networks have been a valuable and educational training ground for Julie’s next phase. As well as her horses, Julie will joining the “ladies whom lunch” set and would like to thank the Network Members who have helped her practice with many lunches over the years. Julie also intends to travel so if you do see her in Cannes do say hello and perhaps an oyster lunch may be in order.

How many people have been able to say what Julie is leaving us with…….”working in the Networks team has been absolutely the best time I’ve had in my career – working with a great team of people, everyone helps each other and absolutely getting the opportunity to meet lots of super quality professional brokers who have all been great company and a good laugh and really know how to drink to the early hours at Forum”.

So, Julie you have achieved what many dream of, taking a bow and leaving on your own terms and in your own style.

We thank you for what you have done and everything you have contributed. Networks have lost an asset, but more importantly a friend. May your future be filled with wine and rosettes and you enjoy the ladies lunching in that Ribble Valley sunshine.

Julie McCarthy – a Willis Towers Watson Networks Legend.