London-based managing general agent Pioneer has tapped Simon Gaffney as chief operating officer.

Gaffney joins from Willis Towers Watson where he was most recently chief data officer at the broking giant.

 His appointment comes just months after Pioneer’s long-serving CEO and founder Darren Doherty revealed he was leaving the firm.

 Gaffney has taken up his new role with immediate effect, Pioneer said in a statement today (1 May).

 He will report to Dane Douetil, the group’s CEO.

He said: “Our ability to attract an operational leader of the quality and experience of Simon Gaffney is testament to the dynamic business we are building at Pioneer.”

“Our business has a focus on operational excellence and Simon’s leadership will be invaluable in further building our skills and expertise in this area.”

Gaffney said: “I’m excited to be joining Pioneer at a time of momentous change in our industry, as new technology creates both challenges and huge opportunities.

“Pioneer has already built an impressive infrastructure and I look forward to building on this progress as we drive operational efficiencies across the business to deliver enhanced profitability.”

Doherty’s departure was announced in a Companies House filing in February. His LinkedIn profile reveals that he is currently on gardening leave.

The move followed in the wake of Pioneer’s set-up of a new Lloyd’s arm at 1 January which is aiming to bring in around £278mn of gross premiums from property, casualty, marine and energy business.

Prior to launching Pioneer in 2009 Doherty spent 12 years at its sister company BMS group, latterly as managing director of direct and facultative business.

He started his career in the industry with Lloyd’s broker Cogent, where he spent 10 years sourcing international reinsurance business, according to LinkedIn profile.