Learning from the Best: TCU Students Visit With Warren Buffett

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Imagine getting the chance to talk investment strategies with Warren Buffett, one of the richest and most respected businessmen in the world. In seven of the past eight years, Neeley School students have had this opportunity, traveling to Omaha for lunch with the Nebraska magnate to hear him dispense business wisdom and sage advice firsthand.

“Our students literally had a front-row seat, as the first two rows in the two-hour Q&A session were reserved for TCU,” says Anne Rooney, director, MBA student development. “Eight schools were represented, including Harvard, Northwestern, Vanderbilt and K State.”

It’s a priceless opportunity for b-school students to be able to engage with an American business icon, one who has been called the most successful investor in the world.

During the Q&A session, “Buffett shared insights and anecdotes on topics including how he approaches investment decisions, his values and his thoughts on why women have great opportunities in the field of finance,” Rooney says.

Chelsea Franklin, MBA ’17, even had the chance to get some face time with Buffett, as she was on of the students, along with others from Harvard and Vanderbilt, invited to join Buffett on the ride to lunch. During the car ride, Franklin says they discussed where each of them hopes to be in 10 years.

When given the chance to ask a question, Franklin asked Buffett’s thoughts on Jack Ma’s business philosophy that shareholders are behind customers, who are No. 1, and employees, who are No. 2. “He agrees with Ma that happy customers equate to continued business,” she says. “He believes no business has ever failed with happy customers.”

During the Q&A, when the topic of potential negative interest rates hitting the United States arose, Buffett told Cheryl Kniatt, MBA ’17, that given a negative interest rate, he would “opt to find the biggest mattress he could, or to seek out other business investments, rather than pay significant amounts to hold cash in banks.”

Wenhui Xu, MBA ’17, says his biggest takeaway from Buffett is that investment isn’t that complicated. Buffett, chief executive and primary shareholder of Berkshire Hathaway, has built his empire by investing in companies he believes in; companies he feels are easy to understand. Buffett’s portfolio includes many brands that populate consumers’ everyday lives — from Heinz to Fruit of the Loom.

One of Buffett's key investment philosophies is “determining if he can fundamentally understand the business and identifying where he sees it in five years,” says Stephanie Stare, MBA ’17. “He does not let the market price dictate the true value of the company, and he does not buy companies with the intent to sell them. He treats them like assets.”

Barbara McNealy, MBA ’17, says she learned, “If you are right about the business, you will be right about the stock,” from Buffett’s discussion on making smart investments.

But perhaps most importantly, Buffett shared his secret to attracting genuine friends and associates. “One of the strongest pieces of advice Mr. Buffett shared was from a Jewish friend in Omaha who had survived the Holocaust,” says McNealy. Buffett’s friend said her first thought in making new friends was always, would they hide me? “This mentality of attracting genuine friends is paramount in how to live life,” McNealy says. “Not only for the associates we choose, but also for the quality of human being we choose to become.”

“Whatever you are throwing yourself into is going to shape you, big time,” Buffett told the students. “The people you associate with are enormously important in shaping you.”

Interested in getting a TCU MBA? Request more info about the Neeley School of Business graduate program.

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