Thao Nguyen '15, Maria Dogaru '14, Parker Luke '14, and Professor Leon Tabak attended the annual meeting of the shareholders of the Berkshire Hathaway corporation on May 3, 2014 in Omaha, Nebraska. They joined nearly 40,000 people in Omaha's CenturyLink Center to hear the “Sage of Omaha” Warren Buffett and Buffett's business partner Charlie Munger. Cornell College's President Jonathan Brand and his wife Rachelle LaBarge provided the passes to the three students and their professor.
The annual meeting is a big event in Omaha. Attendees fill every hotel room. Every taxi cab is taken. Shareholders line up on the sidewalk in front of the arena early. Cornell College's delegation joined a long line at 6:15 a.m. There are events throughout the city all weekend long—a big picnic, open houses and special sales, a 5 kilometer run. The meeting attracts people from all over the world. The Cornellians rode with a Panamanian woman from the hotel to the meeting, sat next to students from the University of Chicago, met investors from Mexico, heard German around the exhibitions in the hall beneath the arena, and spoke with a professor from Canada's University of New Brunswick.
The meeting is also big event in the world of business. For most of the day, the 83 year old Warren Buffett and 90 year old Charlie Munger sat on a bare stage and answered questions. They took questions from a panel of journalists and from the shareholders. It was a remarkable performance, full of wit and insight.
Although it was only from a distance, Thao Nguyen, Maria Dogaru, Parker Luke, and Professor Tabak saw Bill Gates. Bill Gates is a friend of Warren Buffett and a member of the Berkshire Hathaway corporation's board of directors.
At the end of the day, the group visited exhibits from the companies that Berkshire Hathaway owns. These companies make shoes, clothing, building materials, beverages, and candy. They include a railroad. They sell insurance and rent jet airplanes. The students bought souvenirs (no jets or locomotives, but a shirt for a nephew and books for themselves). In the days that followed, they compared the world's leading financial journalists take on Buffett's and Munger's remarks with their own.