On May 3rd, members of UMW’s Investment Club attended Berkshire Hathaway’s Annual Shareholders Meeting in Omaha, Nebraska. The group had secured tickets after Investment Club president and rising senior, Joseph “Joey” Opiekun wrote Warren Buffett last summer explaining how he, a Berkshire Hathaway shareholder, would like to have the club attend the shareholders meeting. In response, he received a handwritten note from Warren Buffett himself stating that he was thrilled the club wanted to attend, and to let him know how many tickets they would need.
With the tickets secured, Joey and members of the Investment Club spent months planning and fundraising for the airfare and hotel costs. They were also fortunate to receive assistance from Student Activities and Engagement (SAE), which ultimately allowed for Joey and five members of the club to attend the meeting.
On the morning of May 4th, members of the club attended Berkshire Hathaway’s Annual Meeting, which lasted all day, and included a Q&A session where “the greatest investor who has ever lived” – Warren Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway Vice-Chairman – Charlie Munger, and many other Berkshire Hathway executives discussed the direction of the company, and answered shareholder questions. Agustina Zuleta, a 2019 UMW alumna, says that the meeting was both interesting, and gave her a greater understanding of “…how the world’s most important holding companies function – how they manage the companies they own, how they market the brands they hold…and how they build a relationship with their investors by having these annual events to answer questions and reassure investors.”
As an added bonus to the meeting, the club members attended the company picnic at the Nebraska Furniture Mart, and also got to participate in the Invest in Yourself 5K on Sunday morning. Most importantly though, they were able to connect with UMW alumnus and COB Advisory Board member, Rob Whitt, who is Corporate Controller with Markel Corporation in Richmond. Mr. Whitt invited the students to attend Markel’s Brunch on May 5th. During this event, Markel’s CEO, CIO, and CFO answered questions about their company and its operations. Joey Opiekun was even able to ask a question of Tom Gaynor, Markel’s CIO and Co-CEO.
For the group, these meetings were a great opportunity to connect with business leaders, and practice their networking skills. Reflecting on the trip, Joey states, “This was a great experience and I learned much more about the insurance industry, the competitive advantage of Berkshire Hathaway and Markel, and the art of value investing. We had a blast in Omaha, and I can’t wait to do it again next year!”