Warren Buffett inspires, delights MBA students

More than 90 Fisher College of Business MBA students had a unique opportunity to meet and lunch with businessman and philanthropist Warren Buffett, the chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., in Omaha, Neb. on April 25.

During a two-hour question and answer session, Buffett engaged in conversation with the students and gave advice on how to handle complex business problems as well as encouraging them to pursue philanthropic endeavors. Second-year MBA student Matt Pry was amazed at Buffett’s ability to explain intricate business problems in plain English.

“His ability to reason through a complex problem and distill it into a simple and insightful perspective was amazing,” Pry said. “It is truly a remarkable ability.”

Pry and fellow second-year MBA student Lisa Scheiring were selected to travel with Buffett from his office to a nearby restaurant. During the 10 minute car ride, Buffett wanted to know where the students were from and what they wanted to do in life.

Pry, who was raised near Mansfield, Ohio, was amazed that Buffett knew where Mansfield was and at one point he owned the now-defunct Mansfield Tire & Rubber Co.

Scheiring said her conversation with Buffett has shaped her views on the value of human capital within an organization.

“His comments on assessing the presence and quality of human capital have impacted the way I look at both talent and myself,” she said. “When you ask the rhetorical questions ‘who would I like to own 10 percent of’ and ‘who would I short,’ the most essential traits of an individual become passion for their work and personal integrity.”

Buffett selects business schools from around the country for lunch and chat sessions. During the visit, the students in the full-time and working professional MBA programs also toured Buffett’s Nebraska Furniture Mart, the nation’s largest home furnishing store.

Following lunch, students extended an invitation to Buffett to attend this year’s Ohio State – Michigan football game at Ohio Stadium. They also presented Buffett with an Ohio State football helmet and a football, both autographed by football coach Jim Tressel, as well as candy buckeyes.

First-year MBA student Aaron Hill was impressed by Buffett’s genuine nature during his time with the students. The witty multi-billionaire cracked jokes to help put the students at ease and patiently posed for a multitude of photos with students, faculty and staff members for more than an hour.

“I was blown away by how practical and down to earth Warren Buffett was in person,” Hill said. “The trip was a great opportunity to hear Mr. Buffett speak firsthand about his business investment strategies and to witness how gracious he can be when mobbed by more than 100 MBA students.”