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Baylor Students Gain Business Insight From Multi-Billionaire Warren Buffett

April 19, 2011

by Kelsey McCarty

It's unlikely that college students would have time with multi-billionaire investor Warren Buffett scheduled on their iPhone calendars.

However, seven students enrolled in Baylor's Management Information Systems (MIS) leadership program, Kendall Zapffe, Amanda Mitchell, Brian Keffer, James Han, Ethan Briggs, Nick Stephens and Brooke Mills, and several MBA students received an invitation to travel to Omaha, Neb., to hear from Buffett himself in a Q&A session.

This trip was highly selective. Only seven other schools were invited to attend: Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Rice University, Kansas State University, Northwestern University, University of Arizona, Nanjing University and ISC Herzliya.

"I was really proud of our students," said Hope Koch, associate professor of Information Systems. "In order to get invited, you have to be a great school. Some of the best students were there from around the world. There were universities from Israel and China that traveled to the U.S. just for this event. Needless to say, it was an honor."

Each school was allowed to bring 20 students total. Baylor's group had the youngest students attending, and the group was invited to Buffett's Q&A session for the first time last year.

"Given the long waiting list for this privilege, I was surprised when he invited us back this year," Koch said. "He very rarely invites a school back. I think this speaks to the good impression Baylor's students made."

The students toured Buffett's businesses and met with top executives from Furniture Mart and Borsheim's jewelry. Following the Q&A session, they joined Buffett for lunch at his favorite restaurant, Piccolo Pete's.

"Much like Mr. Buffett, the room for the Q&A session didn't flaunt the grandeur of the event, but rather, emitted a homey, down-to-earth atmosphere," said Ethan Briggs, MIS student. "Mr. Buffett sat in front of us. It truly felt like he was speaking with us as if we had been dear friends, instead of one-day acquaintances."

Buffett offered students business insight, but also emphasized the importance of business on a personal level.

"Mr. Buffett believes that in order to succeed like he has, you have to be someone that people want to work with," said Kendall Zapffe, MIS student. "Many people were asking him questions during the question and answer session that had to do with investments or his thoughts on the economy, but he always brought his answer back to us as individuals. In order to truly succeed, you have to be enjoyable."

The students certainly enjoyed their time with Buffett, and Koch is thankful for the unforgettable opportunity for her students.

"Our students represented Baylor well and mixed well with other schools," Koch said. "It was an honor to be invited back, and I hope it happens again."

Click on the photos below to enlarge images from the students' trip to Omaha.

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