Creating ‘high value’ jobs in Ipswich is my ‘greatest achievement’ says outgoing WTW managing director Mark Parker

Mark Parker, managing director of Willis Towers Watson. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Mark Parker, managing director of Willis Towers Watson. Picture: GREGG BROWN

The outgoing managing director of one of Ipswich’s biggest employers has talked about his pride in overseeing the creation of 300 ‘high value’ jobs in the town during his tenure - at a time when work was also being shipped out to offshore centres in India and the Philippines.

Mark Parker, who heads up Willis Towers Watson (WTW) in Ipswich, is due to retire at the end of 2017 after 34 years with the global insurance brokerage firm.

During his time with the company Mark lived in India for five years after he was appointed chief executive officer of WTW’s Mumbai service centre in 2006.

Upon his return to the UK in March 2011, he became managing director of the Ipswich operation, then known as Willis Ipswich, and was given strategic responsibility for growing the group’s existing service centres in Ipswich, Nashville and Mumbai, which had opened in 1992. He was also charged with opening new centres in Dalian in China, Tampa in Florida and Manila in the Philippines.

Mr Parker said: “When we started in India all hell broke lose - everyone thought it would be the death of Ipswich. And actually, here we are 25 years latter in better shape than ever.”

He said his “greatest achievement” at WTW has been to grow the business’s centres abroad - Mumbai’s workforce has swelled by over 2,000 in six years to 3,500 people, and more than 1,000 workers are employed in Manila - while also expanding the operation in Ipswich, where since 2011 some 300 new roles have been created, increasing the number of employees at the Friars Street offices to 1,400.

Mr Parker continued: “When people read we are moving 200 roles to India, they assume that we are losing jobs in Ipswich but where we can, we have redeployed people in new positions. And the roles that have come here have been more client-facing, higher value and more interesting.”

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“We couldn’t afford not to offshore - we would have gone out of business - but we managed it in a way that hasn’t impacted on clients, and locally we have made sure there are lots of opportunities for bright people in roles like IT, accountancy, finance and HR, as well as core insurance.”

Mark Parker will be replaced by WTW’s current accounting and settlements director, Richard Brame, who is due to take up the new role in March.