George W. Waters


Kelley School of Business Academy of Alumni Fellows (1976)
B.S., 1938


George W. Waters was an executive who turned the American Express card into a global brand. The company hired him to become the general manager of its credit card division in 1961, and he changed it by convincing American Airlines to drop its credit card and use the American Express card instead, starting a trend with other airlines. Waters also increased its annual fee, reduced the number of delinquent accounts and improved its accounting system. Because of his leadership, the American Express card became the flagship product of he company. In 1975, while working at American Express, Mr. Waters was appointed to the National Commission on Electronic Funds Transfers.

Waters graduated from the Indiana University in 1938 and was hired by I.B.M. in its sales and marketing program after graduation. He joined the Army Air Forces in WWII, where he served as deputy chief of staff in the Office of Statistical Control. During the war, he used computers to keep track of planes, the weather and results of combat missions. He was promoted to colonel and received the Legion of Merit. After the war, Waters was hired as president of the Massachusetts Steamship Line, which operated a ferry service to Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard. Later, he became vice president and director of Colonial Stores, a supermarket chain based in Atlanta. Waters was appointed to the National Commission on Electronic Funds Transfers in 1975. He retired in 1981.