Ole Miss business students participate in Warren Buffett conference

Posted on Oct 25 2017 - 8:01am by Kathryn Abernathy

Students participated in a question and answer session with CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffett. Photo Courtesy of Stephen Fier

Last weekend, 20 Ole Miss students traveled to Omaha, Nebraska, to visit for a group Q&A session with Warren Buffett, the chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway.

This was the first time Ole Miss was invited to attend the Q&A session and tour three Omaha-based businesses owned by Berkshire Hathaway. Students toured Nebraska Furniture Mart, Borsheims Fine Jewelry and Oriental Trading Company.

Ten universities and business schools attended the event, and each school was given the opportunity to ask Buffett two questions.

“I was incredibly impressed with our group. A significant amount of time and effort was required on the part of the students in order to ensure this would be a successful trip, and they were more than willing to accept the challenge,” Stephen Fier, associate professor of finance and the faculty adviser for the university’s Mu chapter of Gamma Iota Sigma, said. “Our students did an excellent job representing the School of Business Administration as well as the University of Mississippi.”

Fier got a chance to talk to the students who attended, and he said they seemed to have genuinely enjoyed hearing from Buffett and observing how some of the Berkshire Hathaway businesses operate.

“In my opinion, the primary objective of this trip was to provide our students with a unique opportunity that would enhance their educational experience, and I believe we succeeded,” Fier said.

Students who are members of the Financiers Club and Gamma Iota Sigma, a risk management, insurance and actuarial science honor society, submitted applications to participate and were selected on the basis of academic achievement, program and student organization involvement and the quality of their responses to questions on the applications.

“It was an honor and privilege to be chosen to attend this event,” senior managerial finance major Jocelyn Cropper said. “I have always admired Buffett, and this was definitely at the top of my bucket list, as it is for pretty much anyone interested in stocks and investing.”

Cropper and the other students were able to attend this event largely because of the work of Andrew Lynch, assistant professor of finance.

When Lynch was a graduate student at the University of Missouri, he taught a class called “The Investment Strategies of Warren Buffett.” While at Missouri, he accompanied students on visits to the Q&A sessions.

“While Ole Miss has never gone on one of these visits before, we believed it would be extremely beneficial for our students,” Lynch said. “I was able to get in touch with the executive assistant at Berkshire, who schedules these meetings, and we were fortunate to be able to get on the schedule this year”.

Cropper said she will remember much of what Buffet said, but his genuine advice about life was what stuck out the most.

“He said the best asset is a good group of friends, to surround yourself with good people and to ask yourself, ‘Why do you do what you do?’ and if you can’t answer that, find something else,” Cropper said. “As far as investing goes, his philosophies are that temperament is the most important investing characteristic and that being focused is essential to being a good investor.”

Travis Box, assistant finance professor, said he believes an event like this does a lot to highlight the university’s strength in the fields of investment and risk management.

“If a potential student has an interest in one of these areas, this trip demonstrates that the Ole Miss finance department is committed to providing them with the type of experiences that can lay the foundation for a wonderful career.”

Ashley Glennon, a senior managerial finance and Spanish double major, said Buffett answered every question in an insightful way.

“I thanked him for the opportunity he gave all of the students and universities that were chosen to attend,” Glennon said. “I’ve never been so excited and honored to be able to shake another person’s hand.”