Jeremy Nuzzo ’10 Chauffeured by Warren Buffett

by John Hedeman

Last July, a Glide Foundation charity auction raised $1.68 million dollars for a prized lunch with Warren Buffett. For a whole lot less ILLINOIS’ Jeremy Nuzzo ’10 not only had lunch with Mr. Buffett, but was chauffeured by the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway in his relatively modest Cadillac. Because of Jeremy’s efforts, he and 26 other members of the College of Business Honors Program met with Mr. Buffett on Friday, November 6 in Omaha, Nebraska.

As a freshman, Jeremy contacted Berkshire Hathaway about the possibility of meeting Mr. Buffett. He was told about a program where Mr. Buffett hosts business students from universities across the USA. Now a senior, Jeremy’s wish has finally come true, for him and his honors mates in the College of Business.

The students visited the Nebraska Furniture Mart and Borsheim’s, two Berkshire Hathaway businesses, but the highlight of the trip was the time with Mr. Buffett himself. For two hours, Mr. Buffett answered questions from the students of the universities represented. Our University of Illinois students were joined by students from Texas Christian University, Boston College, University of South Dakota, University of Akron, and Rotman School of Management at University of Toronto. He talked about his investment strategies, his personal history, his view of the decisions made by the fed and the federal government to deal with the credit crisis and the resulting recession, and the reason he gives so much time to business students among other topics.

His easy going, warm approach put the students at ease. Just days after Berkshire Hathaway’s acquisition of Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad, Mr. Buffett opened his session by asking, “I hope you traveled by rail to get here?”

Discussing the recent economic problems, he gave credit to both the Bush and Obama administrations for acting to avoid an economic catastrophe. In his words, “the economy is still lousy, but the fear is gone.” He credits those who had to make very difficult decisions with the compliment, “leadership really does count.”

Asked about the recent purchase of the remaining shares of Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad, Mr. Buffett talked about his criteria for making such a purchase. The companies he invests in must: