Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship Students Get Tips from Famed Investor Warren Buffett
Warren Buffett has been described as one of the world’s best businessmen, philanthropists and investors, but only a select few can call him a mentor.
Twenty students from the Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Houston C. T. Bauer College of Business got to talk shop with Buffett last week during a tour of Berkshire Hathaway headquarters and lunch in Omaha, Neb.
The once-in-a-lifetime opportunity came at the request of Buffett himself. Since 2009, he has included UH Bauer in his exclusive list of schools invited to spend time with him. The center’s namesake, Melvyn Wolff (BBA ’53), is chairman of Star Furniture, a Berkshire Hathaway company.
“Warren Buffett extends only a few invitations to students across the country to tour Berkshire Hathaway headquarters and visit with him,” Bauer College Dean Latha Ramchand said. “We are fortunate in that the Bauer College has the No. 1 undergraduate entrepreneurship program in the U.S. with the Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship, and thanks to Melvyn Wolff, we have been invited every year.”
Students from the program each spent one-on-one time with Buffett and were able to participate in a question-and-answer session, where they could ask just about anything, from his favorite jokes to his thoughts on capitalism.
Entrepreneurship senior Corinne Agrella said she and her classmates were initially (and understandably) nervous but became comfortable once Buffett began speaking. “Most of us were in shock mode, but he compensated for it by letting his comedian side flow,” she said. “The best part is you could actually feel his true desire and passion to be there for us.”
Buffett’s warmth instantly put entrepreneurship senior Andrew Michael at ease — “The first thing he said to me was, ‘Welcome to Berkshire Hathaway. What school are you with?’”
After the initial introduction, Buffett offered Michael and the other students advice on building businesses.
“He told us to always focus on the fundamentals of a business, and if the fundamentals of the industry or business are weak, it’s probably a good idea to avoid it,” Michael said. “After you’ve looked to see if the industry is strong and the fundamentals are there, look to see how you can tap into a weakness in that market.”
Getting business tips from Buffett proved to be an indescribable experience for Tattiana Reznick, an entrepreneurship and supply chain senior who already has her own business.
“Meeting Warren Buffett and getting to know him personally allowed me to put a face to a name of someone I strive to be like, validating all the things I admire about him and inspiring me to continue to strive for excellence,” she said. “I cannot thank Melvyn Wolff and the Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship enough for providing me with this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
By Amanda Sebesta