February 20, 2013

MBA Finance Club Meets Warren Buffett

Post by:
Ashwin Swami
MBA 2014

Some people have sports stars as heroes. For me, my heroes are the people who stand for more than just themselves. After my parents, I consider Warren Buffett and Bill Gates to be my greatest heroes and among the most influential people who ever lived. Combined, they will be spending more than $120 billion (that is with a “b”!) for the betterment of humanity. I can’t think of a more noble reason than to help others, especially those who have such little opportunity due to no fault of their own.

So needless to say, I was excited when the opportunity to meet one half of that duo presented itself. The BU MBA Finance Club had been invited, along with a few other schools, by Mr. Buffett to meet him in Omaha for a Q&A session and I was one of those fortunate enough to make the trip.

Students pose for a picture with Mr. Buffett

After making a stop at the Nebraska Furniture Mart (a Berkshire Hathaway owned company), we headed to the BH office at Kiewit Plaza. We were seated in a large room with an abundance of complimentary Coca-Cola bottles (Berkshire owns a large stake in Coke as well). When Mr. Buffett stepped in the room, he was immediately greeted with a standing ovation. He was everything I had hoped for and more. He was gracious, pleasant, humorous and a very accommodating host.

View from the seats as Mr. Buffett addresses the room.

Each school took turns asking questions, and he answered them all very thoughtfully.  Although I had watched him speak many times on television and on the internet, I still felt I soaked in quite a bit of wisdom that day. Some of the takeaways that stood out to me were the following: (1) Look around and see which one of your classmates you like, and see if you can imitate their favorable habits. (2) Healthcare in America is a big problem that will need to be solved. We are spending 17% of GDP on healthcare and the rest of the developed world is spending around 10%. (3) America had its own OPEC called Texas Railroad Commission. On a humorous note, Mr. Buffett mentioned that Bill Gates had chided him about using the term “Google” when referring to a web search. Mr. Buffett quipped that Bing stood for But It’s Not Google.

Following the Q&A, Mr. Buffett treated us to lunch at Piccolo Pete’s, where we were given a choice of entrĂ©es along with an old-fashioned root beer float for dessert. After lunch, we took a group photo with Mr. Buffett before departing. On our way to the airport, we made a stop at Borsheims (a jewelry store owned by BH) where we met their CEO. She imparted her wisdom upon us and shared her experiences working with Mr. Buffett.

After a very fulfilling day, students enjoy a meal at Piccolo Pete's, an Omaha tradition!

 Overall, this was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I would recommend this trip to anyone who is interested in meeting one of the most brilliant people of our time. Many thanks to the MBA Finance Club, the Investment Club, as well as those who I met on the trip and shared this amazing experience with.

Ashwin Swami is a physician trained in internal medicine with an interest in financial analysis.

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February 9, 2013

New Social Media Marketing Course Goes Viral

Post by:
Sara Hines
MS-MBA 2013

When I started my MBA, I definitely did not expect that video production skills would be a key asset. But I recently completed what is the third video project in my MBA career.  The assignment this time around was for the inaugural offering of a new marketing elective, MK845: Social Media Marketing and Social Influence. The course was offered as a January intensive in two sections (due do overwhelming demand) and taught by Professors Barbara Bickart (@BABickart) and Nicole Ames (@TwistIMC).

Professor Bickart explained that the course was designed as a marketing elective that aligns well with the new sector focus of SMG (digital technology in this case). She says, “I was actually surprised by the high demand for the course! I knew that there was interest in Social Media Marketing, but never expected that we would fill two sections. Part of the demand was driven by the topic and a feeling that an understanding of social media marketing would benefit students in their marketing career. In addition, students like the intensive format and MS students were allowed to use this as an elective in their program.”

During the week-long intensive we did live cases for area businesses seeking advice and inspiration for social media strategies, in addition to reading cases and a number of papers on topics like virality, user-generated content, and storytelling. But the big project was partnering with the Alumni Relations office to develop a video campaign for one of two initiatives aimed at re-engaging alumni. Teams chose to work on a) a memory-gathering project in celebration of SMG’s upcoming Centennial or b) volunteer opportunities for alumni. We had to make a video and develop a distribution strategy in hopes of making it go “viral”. In addition, each team provided larger strategy recommendations to the Alumni office for thinking about social media engagement going forward.

The YouTube views continued to climb over the ten-day testing period, and one team’s opus even got picked up by a local media outlet!

As content marketing continues to be a big buzzword in management circles, you may want to try your hand at some iMovie editing, or (legally) download Adobe Premier and cut a few short vids. Get comfortable in front of and behind your iPhone camera, because you’re likely to come across some need for video production-be it for a case competition application, marketing program prototype, or even a viral video assignment.

And keep an eye out for the next offering of MK845. 
You're sure to it.

Sara Hines is President of the MBA Marketing Club.

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