Sawyer Business School alumna Holly-Ann Paiva (BSBA ’07) was recently selected to attend a Q&A session with legendary investor and philanthropist Warren Buffett on October 21.
Buffett is the chief executive of the multinational conglomerate holding company Berkshire Hathaway. Every year, he invites MBA programs from around the country to visit his headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska.
Each school then selects 20 students to attend. Paiva, who is currently earning her MBA at Boston College, was among the chosen students from her school.
All of the students came prepared with business questions for Buffett. Paiva planned to ask him about his proposed “Buffett Tax,” which would raise income-tax rates for the wealthiest Americans. Buffett argues that the “ultra-rich,” or those who make more than $1 million per year, currently pay lower rates than average workers.
Although her question was not asked, the experience will last a lifetime. As one of the most influential and experienced business leaders, Buffett offered invaluable real-world insight.
A large part of the two-hour discussion focused on how the recession affects investing. Buffett noted that the economy is dynamic and constantly fluctuating. With the goal of long-term success, his investment philosophy has remained relatively unchanged despite the current economic downturn.
Buffett also talked about his company, career trajectory, and life in general. One piece of advice that stood out for Paiva was Buffett’s “secret to happiness.” He advised the students to surround themselves with people they trust and admire.
After the Q&A session, Buffett treated the students to lunch at a local, family-run restaurant. Paiva sat at Buffett’s table and had the opportunity to talk with him one-on-one. She was surprised to find that Buffett, one of the world's richest men, was so “down to earth.”
As a future MBA graduate and Financial Assistant at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Paiva found the experience enlightening and inspirational.