Mason MBA Students Get the Ear of the ‘Oracle’

When an oracle speaks, you tend to listen. When it’s “The Oracle”—even more so.

That was the case in November when 20 George Mason University MBA students flew to Nebraska to spend a day meeting with the Oracle of Omaha, business magnate Warren Buffett.

“You can learn the theories in class or analyzing business cases, but when you hear it from someone of Mr. Buffett’s stature, it really resonates,” says Robert McAleer, who will complete his MBA this spring.  “He was very candid with us, sharing insights from both his successes and failures over the years.”

The Mason students met with Buffett at Berkshire Hathaway’s corporate offices for a wide-ranging, two-hour discussion that covered topics including the global economy, U.S. politics and lessons in business strategy.  This was the third time Mason has sent MBA students to meet with the legendary investor.

“He clearly conveyed that it is important to have a long-term vision to guide you through the chaos of tough times,” says Mason MBA student Raymond Miles, who found Buffett’s “value investing” insights particularly instructive. “His method of assessing the intrinsic value of stocks added a new dimension to the complex formulas we learn in finance classes.”

The conversation continued over lunch at Buffett’s favorite Omaha steak house, Piccolo Pete’s. (Mason’s School of Business covered the students’ travel expenses. Buffett bought lunch.)

“Our students were tremendously engaged in the conversation, asking spontaneous and impressively insightful questions,” says School of Business professor Alexander Philipov, who accompanied the students to Omaha.

In addition to meeting with Buffett—whose net worth is $72 billion—the students also visited two of his Omaha-based businesses: the Nebraska Furniture Mart—McAleer describes it as “IKEA on steroids”—and a Berkshire Hathaway-owned jewelry store.

“Mr. Buffett offered us the opportunity to take advantage of the Berkshire Hathaway company discount at the jewelry store,” recounts McAleer. But ultimately, he says, the students decided that the $1.7 million ring they had their collective eye on wasn’t in the cards—yet.

“It was really reassuring the way Mr. Buffett presented himself just like any other person trying to succeed in this world,” says McAleer. “He gave us the impression that if he did it, we could do it too—with some really hard work.”

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Janet Palmisano

Janet Palmisano is a member of the Recruiting and Admissions team at the George Mason University School of Business.

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