The world’s richest man will pick up the tab Friday as the so-called Oracle of Omaha sits down to lunch with about a hundred business students from a half-dozen colleges, including the University of Iowa.
Warren Buffett, worth a reported 62-billion dollars, has made it an annual luncheon, according to Gabriel Hansen, director of M-B-A student services at the U-of-I. It’ll be Hansen’s third lunch with the chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, so he’s not nervous.
Hansen says, "No, having met with Warren before in this group setting, he’s a pretty normal guy. He has a great sense of humor. He’s not especially difficult to talk to." As part of the visit to Omaha, 27 U-of-I students will tour the Nebraska Furniture Mart, one of the many businesses owned by Berkshire Hathaway, followed by a 90-minute question-and-answer session with Buffett.
Lunch will follow at a local steak house. Hansen says he will -not- be grading his students on their questions to the philanthropist. "We typically will get them together to try to make sure that our students have some good questions beforehand," Hansen says. "I’m sure that they will. They always do." He says the 78-year-old Buffett is committed to diversity and insists the schools send a representative number of male and female students.
While much of the world is focused on finances and billion dollar bank buyouts, Hansen notes the timing for meeting with the master investor couldn’t be better. In recent years, Buffett has auctioned off similar luncheons for as much as $650,000 on e-Bay, with proceeds going to charity. Hansen explains how the M-B-A students from the Iowa City institution managed to get themselves included in this event.
Hansen says a U-of-I student found out Buffett had sat down to lunch with a group of MBA students from the University of Tennessee years ago, found a way to reach Buffett’s secretary and got a meeting arranged. Buffett lives in the same Omaha house he bought in 1958 for $31,500 dollars.
Today, it’s said to be worth about $700,000. During the last presidential debate, both Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama said Buffett would make an excellent U.S. Treasury Secretary, though Hansen says he doubts Buffett would want the job.