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Vanderbilt grads: There’s nowhere like Lloyd’s

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The 2011-2012 Walter C. Wattles Fellows at Lloyd’s; (l-r) Lauren Solomon, Courtney Anigian and Channing Cochran. Three graduates from a top US university have spoken of their ‘incredible’ experience after spending a year learning about Lloyd’s and the London insurance market.

Three graduates from a top US university have spoken of their ‘incredible’ experience after spending a year learning about Lloyd’s and the London insurance market.The group, all female, from Tennessee’s Vanderbilt University, came to Lloyd’s as part of the Walter C. Wattles Fellowship. Established in 1969, the scheme aims to promote diversity in the Lloyd’s market – a key facet of Vision 2025. Despite none of the three previously considering a career in insurance, two now intend to remain in the industry for the foreseeable future.

French and Business graduate Courtney Anigian, who spent a year as an aviation broker at JLT, is now heading home to Texas to take up a job as an energy broker with Lockton. Describing the Lloyd’s market as “unique”, she said: “They did a wonderful job of training me and I enjoyed it and learned so much. I’ve learned from the ground up how insurance works, and by the end, I was working on my own accounts.”

Lauren Solomon studied communications and Spanish and was mainly attracted by the prospect of working abroad. But she is also hooked on insurance, after a year working with the global property broking team at Willis: “There’s no other place like Lloyd’s, ” she said.  “In the US, a lot of broking is done over the phone or by computer, but at Lloyd’s it’s face to face – that’s really important when it comes to creating relationships and trust in the market.”

She is about to begin a master’s degree in accounting and finance at the London School of Economics, after which she hopes to return to work in the London market.

The third 2011-12 Fellow, Channing Cochran, also contemplated pursuing a career in insurance, but has decided to continue in neuroscience, her major at university. She is returning to Nashville to manage a research laboratory, but has still found her experience working as an aviation underwriter at XL Insurance invaluable.

“Insurance in London is an absolutely incredible field because there’s so much one-to-one interaction. I really feel I’ve developed a sense of being able to interact with people on a professional level and to negotiate – they’re very important skills in any field, ” she said.

Walter Wattles was a prominent US insurance executive and in 1969 set up a fellowship to send female college graduates to Lloyd’s – this at a time when women weren’t allowed on the market floor. Back then, the fellows held mostly clerical positions.

Anne Riegle, a recipient of a Fellowship in 1983, is now a member of the Fellowship’s operating board. She describes Wattles as a “visionary” as he “saw the need for [women] to be an active part of the insurance industry in London”.

Riegle says: “The experience at Lloyd’s gives the young women a global perspective on not only insurance but also how different cultures do business, and their experience and active participation makes them a valuable asset to a multitude of insurance providers and brokers.”

To date, more than 100 graduating Vanderbilt women have had the opportunity to begin their first job in the world-renowned Lloyd’s market. Past fellows have gone on to become doctors, lawyers and stock brokers; and many have continued to work for Lloyd’s and its American affiliate companies.

This July three new Vanderbilt graduates started their Fellowships at Lloyd’s. Margaret Martinez, Kyle McGrath and Ashley Pakenham have taken up a pioneering opportunity first offered to women at Vanderbilt University 43 years ago.

(sourse: Lloyd’s of London site)

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