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Tippie students to meet with Warren Buffett today

BY HILLARY ROSENCRANTS | APRIL 12, 2013 5:00 AM

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When one considers finances, investing, and the business world, it is more often than not that a single name comes up — Buffett. Not Jimmy, of course, but Warren — businessman extraordinaire, and extraodinarily wealthy.

In a stroke of good luck, a group of 20 of the University of Iowa’s M.B.A. students will be sent to Omaha today to meet with Buffett. Boston University’s College of Business and Notre Dame were also invited, among others.

It wasn’t exactly luck that landed these UI students with such a golden opportunity. The process that accompanies attending these meetings is a little more complex.

First, universities are invited to apply. Four years ago, the UI Tippie College of Business’s application was accepted, and UI students have been invited back ever since.

The quadruple invitation is slightly unusual — not all schools are welcomed back with open arms so many times in a row.

Vince Hahn, second year M.B.A. student at Tippie’s School of Management and the trip organizer, said there is a certain set of guidelines that Buffett expects attendees to follow.

“They typically invite schools back if they show appreciation and are respectful,” he said. “We always make sure we follow everything to a T.”

Tippie students are expected to be professional and to represent the UI and the Tippie in a highly positive light.

In order to be selected to attend, students are asked to send in a variety of questions that they would ask Buffett, because a large portion of the visit consists of a Q&A with the man. Because it is such a popular trip, M.B.A. students can only attend once.

Spencer Anderson, an M.B.A. student who will attend the meetings today, said he expects to gain insight from Buffett and learn about several companies and industries in the Berkshire Hathaway portfolio.

“I applied simply because I’m very interested in investments and I enjoy learning about how companies operate, and the key drivers of their industry,” Anderson said. “[Buffett’s company] Berkshire Hathaway is a conglomerate that owns many companies in a variety of industries, and this trip provides an opportunity to learn the strategy behind making investments in these companies.”

Bright and early Friday morning, the event begins with a trip to Nebraska Furniture Mart, one of the three main businesses Buffett has invested in in Omaha. The excursion consists of a tour and a Q&A, followed by the Q&A with Buffett.

After the meeting with Buffett, students are treated to lunch at Piccolo Pete’s, which is reportedly one of Buffett’s favorite Omaha locations.

The tours begin again at Borsheim’s Jewelry, and then the students will head to Oriental Trading Company, which is new to the trip as of this year. Buffett bought the company in 2012.

Anderson, a self-professed fan of Buffett’s investment style, is most interested in the two-hour Q&A with Buffett.

“He seems very cordial and professional on TV, and I am excited to hear his advice for young investors like myself,” Anderson said.

One of Hahn’s favorite parts of the trip is simply the opportunity to learn from one of the best leaders of his era.

“Actually, he’s a lot of fun,” Hahn said. “He’s a very lively person, and he tells a lot of jokes.”


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