Berkeley MBA Students Meet Oracle of Omaha

A group of 20 Berkeley MBA students flew to Omaha, Neb., April 11 to meet with legendary investor Warren Buffett, CEO and primary shareholder of Berkshire Hathaway.

Students kicked off the visit with a tour of the Nebraska Furniture Mart, the largest home furnishings store in North America, which was bought by Berkshire Hathaway in 1983. After the tour, students met with Buffett for a two-hour Q&A session followed by lunch at one of his favorite restaurants, Piccolo Pete’s, an Italian steak house.

The group later toured other Berkshire Hathaway companies, including jewelry retailer Borsheims and the party supplies retailer Oriental Trading Company, where students were introduced to the company CEOs.

“It was a once in a lifetime experience,” says Bryan Wong, MBA 14, co-president of the Haas Investment Club and a Haas Investment Management Fellow. “The opportunity to meet Warren Buffett and for him to spend three to four hours with students is unbelievably precious.”

Wong described Buffett as “incredibly humble and down the earth.”

Aside from meeting Buffett, the highlight of the trip for Joanne Xu, MBA 14, was hearing from the people who run his companies. She said she left with a better understanding of why people work so hard to support Buffett. “People are very loyal to him, and he puts a lot of trust in them,” says Xu, a student in the Evening & Weekend Berkeley MBA Program.

During the Q&A, students took turns asking Buffett about business, investing, and life—everything from what he expected his philanthropic legacy would be to his succession plan to his take on socially responsible investing.

Buffett predicted there will be more bubbles and more buy opportunities in our lifetimes, and said the trick is knowing whether a company has lost its edge permanently or is in temporary crisis, says Bill Rindfuss, executive director for strategic programs in the Haas Finance Group, who accompanied the students.

“It was like getting a physics lesson from Albert Einstein,” Rindfuss says.

Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett meets with Berkeley MBA students.

(See below for full group photo.)