Another guest post, from Kevin Dufault ’14. who reflects on a once in a lifetime opportunity – meeting Warren Buffett!
Just a week ago on January 31, 2014, Warren Buffett welcomed 18 Holy Cross students into Berkshire Hathaway’s headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska. Warren Buffett, widely recognized as the world’s greatest investor, is admired by aspiring financers across the globe. He is a true source of inspiration for the millions of motivated students who see investing in their future. Smart, motivated, and driven students look up to Warren Buffett as an example of just what can happen when you dedicate yourself to your true passion in life. As Mr. Buffett tells undergraduate and business school students, “Find your passion in life and never stop pursuing it. If you haven’t found it yet, don’t stop searching”.
For me, it all began in mid-August when I received an email notifying me of the opportunity Holy Cross received to take a trip to Berkshire Hathaway in Omaha and spend a day with Warren Buffett. Bobby Sullivan ’08 initiated the event by contacting Professor Chu, Director of Entrepreneurial Studies. At this time, I was not officially selected to attend the trip but rather, simply considered a candidate. All I can remember is immediately grabbing my cellphone and texting my family about this amazing opportunity. Flash forward to today, when I find myself reflecting back on the experience I and eighteen other students recently had. There was one particular theme I began realizing throughout all the preparation our group had in anticipation of our trip to Berkshire Hathaway – defining the experience of meeting Warren Buffett. Personally, I could not synthesize a sufficient title for this opportunity. After all, how do you label something that so drastically exceeds your deepest desires and highest expectations? Eventually, however, “Once in a Lifetime Experience of Meeting Warren Buffett” seemed to catch on with the group.
Our trip to Berkshire Hathaway speaks volumes of the Holy Cross Pre-Business Program. The Pre-Business Program, led by Professor Chu and Associate Director, Cassie (Murphy) Gevry, has certainly put Holy Cross students on the map in the business world. It is truly amazing to see how far the program has come over the past few years. As a member of the advisory board to the program, it has been very exciting to be a part of the growing success. Holy Cross has always had a strong presence of graduates in business and in finance. Take a stroll down Wall Street, the finance capital of the world and you are sure to meet a number of alumni from the College. Still, many Holy Cross students graduate without ever realizing the value that can be derived from a liberal arts education upon entering business, finance, or investing careers. That is exactly the issue Professor Chu has worked so hard to solve through his work with the Pre-Business Program. “Businesses are about people”, Professor Chu consistently preaches to members of the program. The Holy Cross curriculum teaches students to think critically in a variety of subjects, solve problems, communicate effectively, and harness good ethics. These are traits every business needs, especially in managerial roles.
From Wall Street to Omaha, Nebraska, Holy Cross continues to make its presence known in the financial services industry. The lessons Mr. Buffett taught us during our time at Berkshire Hathaway are ones that we will never forget. He continuously expressed the value in his relationships with friends and colleagues. When asked what the greatest investment he ever made was, Buffett replied, “My marriage”. The friendships he has built with people such as Charlie Munger and Bill Gates, and the love that can be found in his home are Buffett’s most cherished possessions.
After spending a couple hours in Berkshire Hathaway’s headquarters, where Mr. Buffett answered the questions students never thought they would have answered by the finance guru himself, we were invited to tour a few of Berkshire’s largest subsidiaries. The tour included an inside look at Nebraska Furniture Mart, Oriental Trading Company, and Borsheim’s Fine Jewelry. In addition to our tours, we were lucky enough to be invited for lunch with Mr. Buffett at Piccolo Pete’s. The entire day was truly amazing. It’s one of those rare occasions when the reality of what you are experiencing does not fully register with you until it’s over.
The trip would not have been possible without the hard work and great leadership of a few people. They were the cornerstone to this entire journey and deserve great recognition for their long hours of commitment. Andrew Marzo ’14, President of the Holy Cross Finance Club, and member Christina Rudolf ’14 led the way as organizers of the trip. They were outstanding leaders throughout the months of preparation. From the beginning, we knew we could count on Andrew and Christina to keep us well informed, prepared, and supported on our journey to Omaha. Dan Riccardi ’06, from the Holy Cross Investment Office prepared us with an introduction to Berkshire Hathaway’s finances, and background on Warren Buffett’s life and career. Dan joined us on the trip and was always available to help make our trip the best it could be. Lastly, and perhaps most important to me, I cannot say enough about the group of students we had on this trip. As a senior at Holy Cross, I have met some great people over the past four years. And, I am happy to say that I recently met some of the kindest and most driven students on campus. I think we all gained some of the greatest memories we will ever have and it was a pleasure to enjoy this experience with them.
Always great to hear directly from the students -Thanks Kevin, for your gracious post!
Associate Director, Entrepreneurial Studies