MBA Students Visit the ‘Oracle of Omaha’

Posted: April 20, 2009 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Nicole Hitpas

Given the state of today’s economy and job market, a few names come to mind when thinking of people from whom to seek advice. World renowned investor, businessman and philanthropist Warren Buffett tops the list for most.

Everyone — from President Barack Obama to Yankee Alex Rodriguez to MBA students — wants to learn the secrets of success from the Berkshire Hathaway chairman.

Twenty-seven MBA students from Mason’s School of Management got their wish fulfilled when they visited Buffett in his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska, on March 27. Buffett regularly invites groups of MBA students to spend the day with him, and this was the second time in three years Mason students received an invitation.

MBA class with Warren Buffett
MBA students pose with Warren Buffett, center, during their trip to Omaha.
Photo courtesy School of Management

After starting the day with a tour of a Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary, the students had a two-hour question-and-answer session with Buffett. Students were free to ask questions on any topic and received candid responses in return.

“I believe the greatest benefit for our students was the opportunity to ask Mr. Buffett unscripted questions and observe how he handled them,” says Bob Johnston, associate professor of finance who accompanied the MBA students on the trip.

“I expect that they were impressed with how open he was, including acknowledging his own mistakes, and the importance he places on high-quality people.”

The Q&A session was followed by lunch at Piccolo Pete’s, Buffett’s favorite restaurant. The day was filled with advice, stories and plenty of good humor.

“Mr. Buffett went above the call of duty. Beyond the Q&A session and lunch, he spent two hours taking pictures with each individual. He seemed to truly enjoy and care about the MBA visit,” says MBA student Robert Boese.

Relaying how the trip related to her course work, MBA student Kim Patterson says, “We went to the mountaintop and spoke to the Oracle. In his question-and-answer session, he covered international finance, global investment, the current economic downturn, business skills required to manage a fortune 500 company, life-work balance, the decisions important to a career in business, investment strategies….and I’m sure I’ve missed some things.”

With all the stories, the lessons learned, the candid business advice and life lessons mixed in one day, the students agree that it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

MBA student Abhishek Kumar Jain, who rode to the restaurant in Buffett’s car and sat next to him during lunch, enthuses, “Mr. Buffett told us that currently a lunch with him runs to $2.1 million. My MBA is already worth $2.1 million!”

Write to at