When considering where you want to work, there are a lot of things that come into play. Do you want to work in a small startup or a large multi-national corporation? Do you want variety or do you want to become an expert in a particular field? Do you want prestige or would you rather be a worker-bee? The good news is that there are organizations that can fit any desire, including Berkshire Hathaway.
Berkshire Hathaway is an American multinational conglomerate holding company. It owns such well-known corporations as GEICO, BNSF, Dairy Queen, Fruit of the Loom, Helzberg Diamonds and NetJets. It also owns pieces of the Kraft Heinz Company, American Express, The Coca-Cola Company and IBM. And according to the Forbes ‘Global 2000‘ list and formula, Berkshire Hathaway is the fourth-largest public company in the world.
But there are two things that truly set the company apart:
- It’s annual growth rate. For the last 49 years, Berkshire Hathaway has averaged an annual growth in book value of 19.7 percent (far above the average 9.8 percent growth from the S&P 500).
- Warren Buffett, who is the company’s Chairman of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer.
So, what exactly makes Berkshire Hathaway an attractive business for MBAs?
Why MBA’s Love Berkshire Hathaway
Working at Berkshire Hathaway is definitely about prestige. The company’s home office located in Omaha, Nebraska only has 21 employees, according to last year’s annual report. So, that means landing a job at corporate would put you right next to Warren Buffet, which is a dream for many. Just take a look at the last MBA who ended up next to Warren Buffet: Tracy Britt Cool.
Cool earned her MBA at Harvard in 2009 and landed a job at Fidelity Investments. Then, just four years later, she was serving as Chairman of four companies under the Berkshire Hathaway umbrella—worth a combined $4 billion. If that’s not enough, she has Buffett’s full confidence. In a 2014 interview, he said, “Tracy is available to work on things that I probably should work on, but either am too busy or too lazy. She thinks like I would.”
It’s evident that landing a job at the corporate headquarters of Berkshire Hathaway would be life-changing, but since that’s unlikely, it’s better to set your sights on one of Berkshire’s holdings, and there are a lot to choose from—over 60.
MBAs interested in Berkshire can work in retail, realty, insurance, marketing, engineering and more. Unfortunately, this broad variety makes it difficult to give a salary. At GEICO, an MBA can expect to earn $71,216 a year, according to Payscale, while an MBA at BNSF Railway can expect to make around $100,000.
Life at Berkshire Hathaway
Considering how difficult it is to land a job at the Berkshire Hathaway headquarters, there’s not much information about working there. The only information we have is from a 2011 LinkedIn post. The post was looking for an Executive Assistant and stated the ideal candidate should be “able to handle [the] highest level of confidential information.”
As for working for Warren Buffett, not only is he one of the best investors in the world, he’s also an excellent manager and leader, Robert Miles, a Berkshire shareholder, told D Magazine.
“I would describe it as very strange and almost bizarre the way he manages, because he doesn’t manage,” said Matt Rose, the CEO of BNSF. “He takes companies that he likes, he spends a lot of time in terms of developing the goals of how management will be compensated and how the scorecard will look, and then he allows management to run the company.”
So, if you become a higher up at one of Berkshire’s subsidiaries, you can expect a hands-off approach from Buffett, but that doesn’t mean he won’t know what is going on. Buffett has a legendary command of numbers and is someone who pays attention to detail. But unless you need his help, he’ll let you work as you see fit.
Landing a Job at Berkshire Hathaway
Landing a job at Berkshire Hathaway is not an easy proposition. In fact, it’s almost impossible. A recent article from Business Insider claimed that it’s better to look elsewhere. In two company Christmas cards over two years, not a single employee had changed at the small headquarters. And the reason why? Buffett’s small and close-knit group already handles everything he could need.
“This group efficiently deals with a multitude of SEC and other regulatory requirements, files a 30,400-page Federal income tax return – that’s up 6,000 pages from the prior year! – oversees the filing of 3,530 state tax returns, responds to countless shareholder and media inquiries, gets out the annual report, prepares for the country’s largest annual meeting, coordinates the Board’s activities, fact-checks this letter – and the list goes on and on.” — Buffett
However, that doesn’t mean you can’t work for one of Berkshire’s holdings. The company and all of its subsidiaries have over 360,000 employees worldwide, which means there are plenty of opportunities. The key is to research the subsidiary you’re interested in and to apply for that job.
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