The Walter C. Wattles Fellowship at Lloyd's of London was founded in 1969. The original purpose was to provide an opportunity in the international insurance industry not otherwise available to women at that time. The job description has changed from being mostly clerical in the early years to the only program of its kind offering a one-year, fully integrated position in the London insurance market. In recent years, one woman is trained as a Property Account Executive with Willis Towers Watson, one as an Aviation Underwriter at AXA XL, and the third, an Aviation Account Manager at Arthur J. Gallagher & Co.
Three women graduates from Vanderbilt University, ranked in the top 20 US National Universities by US News and World Report, are selected each year to participate in the Wattles Fellowship. Highly qualified women apply annually and are required to submit a resume and thoughtful essay about why she should be selected as a Wattles Fellow. Former Fellows and the Fellowship Board conduct two rounds of interviews and select the finalists based on their academic performance, student leadership, internship experience, community service, essay content, letter of recommendation, and personal qualifications.
This Fellowship offers its participants a unique opportunity to experience the international insurance market and develop skills that have proven to be transferable into many other industries. However, the year in London is much more than just a job; it also is a cultural experience in living and working among the British.
I consider my year in London as a Wattles Fellow to be one of the most formative and edifying years of my life from both a professional and personal perspective. The career advancement has proven to be profound and relationships I formed with other Fellows and colleagues will last a lifetime. The Fellowship empowered me to become the woman that I am today.
The Fellowship's founder, Walter C. Wattles, was born in 1914 and grew up on the Vanderbilt University campus. His family lived in the old Wesley Hall, where his mother was the Dining Services Director. After graduating from Columbia Military Academy, Mr. Wattles returned to his beloved home and graduated from Vanderbilt University in 1936. He later joined the Navy as an officer and served during World War II.
Mr. Wattles was a prominent international insurance executive, working with high profile clients including Delta Airlines, Trans World Airlines, and the Smithsonian Institute. He conducted much of his business overseas at Lloyd's of London and cultivated lasting relationships with several Chairmen of Lloyd's, including Chairman Ian Findlay who was one of the Fellowship's biggest supporters in the marketplace. These Lloyd's leaders were instrumental not only in the formation of the Fellowship, but ultimately its enduring success.
As the father of three daughters, Mr. Wattles was passionate about the promotion of women in the workplace and the importance of understanding other cultures. To this end, he founded the Walter C. Wattles Fellowship at Lloyd's of London in 1969. His progressive thinking provided women with an opportunity not only to work in the international insurance market that was previously unavailable to them, but also to be immersed in England's culture and community. With Mr. Wattles at the helm, he was able to guide the Fellowship into the 21st century; the job description changed from being mostly clerical in the early years to the only program of its kind, offering a one-year, fully integrated position in the London insurance market. The Wattles Fellows were among the very first women to conduct business on the floor of Lloyd's of London. Mr. Wattles would be very proud of how far the Fellowship has come.
Mr. Wattles passed away on June 15, 2009 in Atlanta after a long battle with Alzheimer's. He was 95. His wife, DeeDee Wattles, an exceptional woman and tireless supporter of the Fellowship, remained the Fellowship's matriarch and carried on Mr. Wattles's legacy until her death on November 15, 2015.