When I first heard that Buffett would be coming to IMD, I was ecstatic. When I learned that it was Warren Buffett, not Jimmy, I was disappointed but still pretty excited. We prepared and analyzed a case involving Berkshire Hathaway’s first international acquisition, Iscar, and were joined by Buffett and Icsar’s CEO, Eitan Wertheimer. Although we only had an hour with them, they covered a lot of ground ranging from investment strategy to operations policies. However, as is usually the case when we have the case protagonists in class, most of our questions were about softer issues: leadership, culture, and values.
Buffett impressed me as being very . . . real. His personal presentation was exactly in line with the writing style of his letters to shareholders and books: simple, modest, and sprinkled with stories from his entire career. His ability to remember elaborate details from decades ago is amazing. It was also great to have a prominent American here representing good values and responsibility. Moreover, I felt very much at home as he described his love of American football and steak.
Perhaps most important, however, is that I let the Oracle know that I had a prediction of my own: the Rice Owls will win the College World Series of Baseball in his hometown of Omaha this year. I will send him a Rice baseball cap so that he can show his support in June!