You never know what chance event can change your life.
For Hieu Nguyen, a senior in the College of Business, it was a spare ticket to the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting in 2014 that was a pivotal moment. Nguyen, 22, said before that Omaha trip he didn’t know anything about the investment holding company or its owner and chairman, billionaire Warren Buffett.
However, Buffett’s address to shareholders was monumental and inspirational for the Iowa State student.
“After that I fell in love with what he had to say about business, investing, and the stock market,” Nguyen said. “I ended up going into finance after that.”
Nguyen had been an economics and math major, but then added a finance major to his academic goals. Then, he joined the Economics Club and became the club president. He also joined a The Iowa State Investment Group, where he serves as a leader and mentor for a team of five analysts who manage a $70,000 portfolio.
In 2015, Nguyen became a stockholder in Berkshire Hathaway and attended his second shareholders meeting. He put his name on a list of student groups to meet Buffett. Initially, the Economics Club was wait-listed with 200 other schools. But Nguyen was persistent and by last summer, Iowa State University students were invited to a luncheon with Buffett. Students from eight other schools around the world also attended.
In October 2015, 20 Iowa State students representing several majors, were selected on the basis of essays they wrote explaining what the opportunity would mean to them. They traveled to Omaha for lunch, a tour of Buffett’s Nebraska Furniture Mart store and a question-and-answer time with Buffet.
Having the chance to glean tips from someone with 50 years of investment experience who routinely makes billion-dollar business decisions was invaluable, Nguyen said. The students “were just incredibly lucky to have an experience like that,” he said.
Department Chair of Accounting and Finance, Rick Dark, has taken students to hear Buffett speak in the past and agreed it is an unforgettable experience.
“It’s literally awesome to get to visit with and meet … one of the very top investing businessmen over the last half of a century,” Dark said. “Warren Buffett has been the most well thought of and well respected and successful person and he addresses questions about anything. He is extremely impressive.”
Students generally come away intensely motivated after listening to Buffett, Dark added.
“He motivates you to want to go out and be somebody who does it the right way with high character and morals,” he said. Buffett’s legacy of honesty, integrity and reading and studying up on publicly-available information speaks volumes, Dark said.
Dark said he also was impressed that Nguyen was able to arrange the meeting for his peers.
“It takes persistence to get in,” Dark said. “Warren is in such high demand…. I was very impressed the president of the Economics Club, who is also an outstanding student, accomplished this.”