By Ann Fonseca
Not all students can say they spent their spring break with the Oracle of Omaha.
Four Fordham University students, members of the Gabelli School’s Smart Woman Securities chapter, embarked on a three-day trip to Nebraska to meet billionaire investor Warren Buffett, the head of the Omaha-based Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate.
This yearly trip first started nine years ago by Smart Woman Securities National with about 20 students, and has grown to a much larger program. Fordham was one of 16 SWS chapters on the trip, which was attended by more than 50 students from all over the world.
Students who were accepted into the program were given extensive assignments and reading materials to prepare for the visits. The trip was designed to give students different experiences and perspectives in the business and investing world. Each student also prepared a self-branding exercise to help her learn how to communicate better and converse with peers and executives in the business world.
During their visit, the students visited several Omaha-based and Berkshire Hathaway-owned companies, including The Gallup Organization, Union Pacific Railroad, TD Ameritrade, Nebraska Furniture Mart, Oriental Trading Company and Borsheims. Students were encouraged to study the companies in advance of each visit, prepare to network and reach for opportunities at each company. Over the three-day period, the students met with more than 32 executives.
TD Ameritrade was a highlight for Shannon Harman, BS ’17.
“Visiting TD Ameritrade was enlightening for me because every person on the panel emphasized that the client is the most important part of a business deal,” Harman said.
On the second day, the women enjoyed a two-hour question-and-answer session and lunch with Buffett.
“The opportunity to sit next to Mr. Buffett at dinner and hear him speak about business and life was unparalleled, and one I will never forget,” said Lauren Kelly, BS ’18.
There were a lot of key takeaways from the experience.
“Having the opportunity to interact with a world renowned investor and prominent businesswomen is an experience that I will never forget,” said Erika Schwartz, BS ’17, the COO of Fordham’s SWS chapter.
“To say that our dinner with Mr. Buffett was great is an understatement,” said Kayla Scoccola, FCRH ’17. “Mr. Buffett took a personal interest in each of us, and it was amazing to hear how thoughtfully he responded to everyone’s questions with such insight.”