Students meet Warren Buffett

When Zhiguang (Gerald) Wang, an associate professor of finance, received an email from Berkshire Hathaway’s Carrie Sova in August 2015, he was overwhelmed with excitement.

The following individuals met legendary investor Warren Buffett in February. They are: back, from left, Richard Mulder, Jordan Jaacks, Raymond Opoku,  Nikita Medvedev, Chad Te Slaa, Austin Appel, Connor O’Kane, Kyle Vos, Zach Fedt, Aldon Myrlie and Austin Erikson; center: Buffett; front,from left:  Melinda Sommer, Lindsey Meiers, Yu Chen, Abigail Vlaminck, Justin Price, Dr. Gerald Wang, Jessica Boesch, Lexi Fokken, Stacey Weets and Kylie Walterman

The following individuals met legendary investor Warren Buffett in February. They are: back, from left, Richard Mulder, Jordan Jaacks, Raymond Opoku,
Nikita Medvedev, Chad Te Slaa, Austin Appel, Connor O’Kane, Kyle Vos, Zach Fedt, Aldon Myrlie and Austin Erikson; center: Buffett; front,from left:
Melinda Sommer, Lindsey Meiers, Yu Chen, Abigail Vlaminck, Justin Price, Dr. Gerald Wang, Jessica Boesch, Lexi Fokken, Stacey Weets and Kylie Walterman

The email told Wang that South Dakota State was one of eight universities invited to have a group of students travel to Omaha to meet legendary investor Warren Buffett Feb. 26.

“I didn’t anticipate this opportunity. I didn’t think it was possible,” said Wang, recalling the August email.

Wang said he received an email from former Provost Laurie Nichols and former President David Chicoine letting him know there was a chance State would be invited. However, Wang did not know when that opportunity would take place.

While in Omaha, the group of 20 students and Wang also visited the Omaha World-Herald newspaper, which is owned by Berkshire Hathaway, and TD Ameritrade.

Justin Price, a senior from Brookings, and Chad Te Slaa, a graduate student from Sioux Falls, were among the students on the trip. Price, after reading Roger Lowenstein’s book,

“The Making of an American Capitalist,” in 2012, became a ‘Buffettologist” and has attended several Berkshire Hathaway annual meetings.

“I thought it was a little bit of fate,” Price said about the invitation. “I remembered an annual meeting where Buffett, looking out to the crowd, said ‘If you want to be great at anything in life, you have to start early,’ to the college student who asked a question.

“I basically went home and contemplated the fact that this might be what I want to do,” he continued. “I had read this book and wondered why does Travelers trade for $116 while others trade at $4, got interested from that standpoint and started an investment partnership.”

Price, who is president of State’s investment club and is part of its student-managed investment fund, asked Buffett two questions. The first dealt with a 1955 trade Buffett made while the other dealt with the future for women in business.

“I knew enough from reading books and having been to the annual meetings that I didn’t want to ask him a question that I’d already heard,” Price said. “There are times when you go to the annual meeting and hear the same question from a previous year but asked in a different way. So, I went to 1955 and asked about him trading Rockwood and Company stock and cocoa beans.”

Te Slaa said the day was more than just learning about investing.

“Mr. Buffett told a story when he and Bill Gates were at a conference and all of the individuals were asked to write down the one quality that led to their success,” he said, adding Buffett talked about personality traits and his schedule. “They both wrote focus. I though it was really intriguing that two of the top five richest guys wrote the same exact word out of the millions they could have chosen.”

Following the Q&A session with Buffett, the eight groups of students went to lunch at the Omaha Country Club with Buffett and later took photos with him.

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