The Ardonagh Group has announced the appointment of former Ulster, Ireland and British & Irish Lions Captain, Rory Best, as Director of Development.
Rory will work with the executive teams across the Group, and in particular with its subsidiary Arachas, drawing upon his unique perspective on resilience and strategies for overcoming opposition.
In this newly created role, Rory will work closely with David Ross, founder and Chief Executive Officer of Ardonagh, and Conor Brennan, CEO of both Arachas and Ardonagh Europe, deepening and building client relationships throughout the world.
He will campaign on behalf of the Group’s wide-ranging community and charity projects and will be appointed to the board of Ardonagh Community Trust, the Group’s charity, which has donated over £1m to community causes globally.
Rory, from Poyntzpass in Co. Down, Northern Ireland, is one of the most successful and most capped rugby players in history, having earned 124 caps for Ireland, from his debut in 2005 to his retirement at the end of the 2019 Rugby World Cup, his fourth World Cup. He graduated from Queen’s University Belfast with a degree in agriculture before becoming a professional rugby player with Ulster, his home province. He played for Ulster from 2004 to 2019 and for Ireland from 2005 to 2019, as well as touring with the British and Irish Lions in 2013 and 2017. Throughout his playing career, he also worked at the family’s farming business in Poyntzpass and brings huge experience of the challenges faced by modern farmers in a fast-changing agricultural world.
Since retiring Rory has predominantly focused on his charitable endeavours and is a passionate philanthropist. He will lend his voice to work with Ardonagh in support of mental health awareness and other issues affecting young people. This September he will walk 180 miles from Daisy Lodge in Co. Down to the site of the Cancer Fund for Children’s new short break centre in Cong, Co. Mayo, to shine a light on the experiences of children and young people suffering from cancer. Rory has ambitious plans to raise £500,000 to help ensure children don’t have to face cancer alone.
David Ross, founder and CEO of Ardonagh, said: “Rory Best is an exceptional man with unique insights into leadership and an acute commercial intelligence. Whilst I have always hugely admired his sporting achievements, it is our shared values, and his unique insight into how teams can work better together that really strike a chord. Rory will be an influential voice inside our businesses and we very much looking forward to seeing him flourish as a corporate leader. It is a mark of his character that he is determined to learn the ropes from bottom to top, inside and out.”
Rory Best said: “I am very excited about my first major role since retirement, and the real beginning of the second phase of my career. Since I retired two years ago, I have examined many opportunities and wanted to make sure I was making a real difference in whatever I pursued. Coming from a farming family, I have long understood the importance of insurance to protect business owners. David and Conor have built truly world-class businesses and when they approached me about a role at Ardonagh and at Arachas, I was confident I could really help, developing-leadership abilities and offering management insight, given my own experience leading ambitious teams. Ardonagh’s deep support for the communities it operates in is personally important to me and aligned to my ambition to positively impact lives and livelihoods wherever possible.”
Conor Brennan, CEO of Arachas and Ardonagh Europe, said: “We have spent a significant amount of time with Rory this year and he has really got to know the team at Arachas. We have all been hugely impressed with his insight and refreshing observations. It is clear to us all that he can make a big impact within the business; we look forward to learning from him as he learns from us.”