NUS MBA student Tushar Kheterpal was selected to attend the Berkshire AGM 2007, and recounts his experience here.
“We would like to congratulate you on being selected to attend Warren Buffett’s AGM….” the opening-line of the email I received on an evening about 3 weeks back made me jump with excitement. I was selected along with 2 other of my MBA batch-mates to attend Berkshire Hathaway’s (A Warren Buffet Company) Annual General Meeting (AGM or Shareholder’s Meeting) in Omaha, USA.
I landed in Omaha on Friday, May 4th, 2007. Omaha is a small town in the US known more because of its local hero – Warren Buffet. It all started with the shareholder’s reception at Borsheim’s – the jeweler owned by Berkshire Hathaway. Thousands attend this event but, in spite of the huge crowd, people seemed to enjoy it all with their cherry-cokes and steak, for years regular items at every Berkshire AGM. The next-day was to be a grand-affair – the day of the AGM. We had heard the previous night of how people reach early morning, some even before sunrise, and queue up outside the convention center, the venue for AGM, to get the best seats possible. At 8:30am we were all let in amid tight security and managed to secure our seats. It was a huge, stadium-like convention center which could easily accommodate the 27,000 shareholders who had flown down to Omaha to be part of this 3-day annual show. Over the next few hours Warren Buffet and Charlie Munger occupied the stage, patiently answering the questions hurled by people from California to Israel to Australia on topics ranging from “Why Berkshire has little investments in foreign markets” to “Would his investment philosophy be different if he were to start now from scratch”. Charlie Munger was his typical self, mostly quiet, letting Warren take on most of the questions, but chipping in occasionally with wry, humorous quips.
During the break, we managed to catch a glimpse of another stalwart – Bill Gates and his wife Melinda. Not a surprise knowing that Bill is among Warren’s close friends, on board of BH and that he recently received nearly half of Buffet’s fortune, close to $30billion, for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In the evening, Warren Buffet and Charlie Munger met the 600 or so international shareholders in a separate special meeting. For me, it was heartening to see the legend in such close proximity and to get his autograph on the book “An Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham” which I bought specially for the event, knowing well that Warren regards B.Graham as his ‘guru’.
We bought a few more BH and Warren Buffet souvenirs from the exhibition at the convention center and left the place with a feeling of exclusiveness, pride and achievement, having met the legend and greatest investor of all times. The BBC described the event as “a gathering like no other. .. a show as much as a business gathering.” We couldn’t agree more, having experienced this unique, wonderful and grand event.
Class of 2008