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MBA Students To Meet with Warren Buffett

With the global economy sliding, what better time to get financial and business advice -- not to mention lunch -- from one of the richest men in the world?

A group of University of Iowa MBA students will do just that when they visit Omaha to attend a meeting with Warren Buffett, the popularly described Oracle of Omaha and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway.

"This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to meet with one of the world's most successful and knowledgeable businessmen," said Anne Thimsen, a second-year student in the Tippie School of Management who is organizing the trip for 27 full-time MBA students. "I'm really looking forward to his words of wisdom."

The session will be held on Friday, Oct. 17 as part of an occasional get-together that Buffett conducts at his Omaha headquarters with MBA students from across the country. This fall's meeting will be with students from Iowa and five other schools.

The visit includes a tour of the Nebraska Furniture Mart -- one of the many businesses owned by Berkshire Hathaway -- and a 90-minute question-and-answer session with Buffett. After that, he'll treat them to lunch at Piccolo Pete's steak house, one of his favorite Omaha haunts, and have group photos taken with the students.

Buffett answers questions on most any topic, according to Gabriel Hansen, director of MBA student services in the Tippie School of Management, who has accompanied UI students on previous trips to Omaha.

"Many of the questions are finance related, but he's open to most anything, even funny questions about his personal life," Hansen said. "What seems to impress the students most is that here you have one of the richest people in the world, and at the end of the day, he's a normal guy with a funny sense of humor."

Hansen said students also come away surprised by some of Buffett's beliefs, such as his thoughts about business acquisitions (most deals are bad, so the fewer the better), his commitment to diversity (he insists that schools send a representative number of men and women students), his tax philosophy (a near-100 percent inheritance tax) and his politics (a moderate, he supports Barack Obama in this year's presidential election).

One of the Iowa students who will be meeting with him hopes to absorb enough wisdom to help him thrive despite the struggling economy.

"It's probably the only chance I'll have to spend that much time in the same room with such a brilliant man," said James Albert, a second year MBA student. "You read about what he says and you read about his insights, but it's another thing entirely to hear what he has to say directly and be able to use it, especially with the economy like it is."


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