Meet 28-year-old Tracy Britt, the Harvard grad Warren Buffett is 'grooming to take his place' when he retires
- Tracy Britt, 28, is currently Warren Buffett's go-to girl with an office next to his, and chairwoman of four of his companies which bring in a combined $4 billion annually
- Buffet, 82, hired Britt four years ago as his financial assistant and many are speculating she's being groomed to take over from him when he retires
- Britt grew up on a farm in Kansas before attending Harvard Business School
- Buffett has told shareholders that he's already chosen his successor - but won't divulge who it is yet
By Daily Mail Reporter
PUBLISHED: 17:21 EST, 12 June 2013 | UPDATED: 17:39 EST, 12 June 2013
Warren Buffett, the 82-year-old who in 2012 was named the world's third wealthiest person, has a right-hand woman: a 28-year-old Harvard graduate who some say is being groomed to take over from Buffett when he retires.
Tracy Britt began working for Buffett in 2009 as a financial assistant, and in four short years has become a trusted confidante of the billionaire and chairwoman of four of his companies, which bring in $4 billion combined annually.
In 2007, in a letter to shareholders, Buffett announced that he was looking for a younger successor, or perhaps successors, to run his investment business. Speculation is mounting that Britt is that successor.
Climbing the ladder: Many insiders are speculating that 28-year-old Tracy Britt will succeed 82-year-old Warren Buffett when he retires
Like other Buffett lieutenants, Britt was plucked from relative obscurity to rise through the ranks of Berkshire Hathaway, the company of which Buffett is chairman, CEO and primary shareholder.
Britt grew up in Manhattan. Manhattan, Kansas that is, where her parents ran Britt's Garden Acres, growing fruit, vegetables and flowers. It wasn't Wall Street, but this is where Britt honed her business skills and developed her work ethic.
'Every minute that I had to work on the farm, I hated it,' she told Harvard Magazine in 2007, describing being stuck on the phone with distributors during summer holidays.
'But it actually shaped my dedication, my work ethic, and the way I follow through on the commitments I have made,' she said.
Britt went to Harvard and then on to Harvard Business School, against the advice of many around her.
'I had to drown out a great deal of unsolicited advice saying that I absolutely must work before going to business school. I was told again and again that I didn’t have sufficient experience, I wasn’t prepared, and I was downright crazy to think that anyone would hire me in the investing field straight from business school,' wrote Britt on Lean In.
Mentor: Since he hired Britt in 2009, Warren Buffett has gradually added responsibilities to her role, and now she 'takes care of all kinds of things that come up' Buffett told college students in Omaha last month
'During one of my classes, we were assigned to write a hypothetical personal reflection for our 10-year reunion. Mine... included this sentence: My goal is to work with a great investor, who even more importantly is a wonderful teacher and mentor. After reading my thoughts, one of my classmates – an individual who worked for large investment firms for several years before business school – told me that I was naïve and as a direct admit, I wasn’t aware of what the real world was like and that after I worked a few years, I’d realize just how unrealistic my personal reflection was,' she continued.
But Britt received the 'wonderful teacher and mentor' of her dreams, and according to the Washington Post, has an office next door to her boss's.
She also helps with financial research and accompanies Buffett to meetings.
In March after Berkshire and Brazilian investment firm 3G Capital announced they would buy ketchup maker H.J. Heinz & Co. for $23 billion, Buffett sent Britt to Brazil. According to the Washington Post, he wanted Britt to be familiar with 3G's operations.
Over the rainbow: Kansas native Tracy Britt grew up working her parents farm before going to Harvard where she was president of Harvard Undergraduate Women in Business and founded the not-for-profit Smart Women Securities
'She's got this wealth of information about what's going on at the Berkshire portfolio companies,' Sam Taylor, chief executive of Oriental Trading Co. told the Washington Post.
'She knows exactly what's going on and where Warren's head is at.'
Buffett first met Britt when she and a fellow graduate founded Smart Woman Securities, a not-for-profit organization focused on investment education for undergraduate women in 2006.
She contacted Buffett asking if he would meet with her members at his company's headquarters in Omaha, and amazingly, he agreed.
Buffett has written about his belief that there should be more women in business, and has said that he believes women are key to America's prosperity.
Off to see the wizard: Kansan Tracy Britt first met Warren Buffett when she contacted him to ask if she could bring a group of young women interested in investments to speak with him - and her audacious request paid off
'The moment I emerged from my mother's womb... my possibilities dwarfed those of my siblings, for I was a boy! And my brainy, personable, and good-looking siblings were not,' he wrote in Fortune magazine.
'So my floor became my sisters' ceiling - and nobody thought much about ripping up that pattern until a few decades ago. Now, thank heavens, the structural barriers for women are falling.'
During her undergraduate studies Britt served as president of Harvard Undergraduate Women in Business and continued to work on her parents' farm during summers.
As a junior, she interned at 85 Broads in New York City, a global women's networking organization. There, she was taken under the wing of a woman who worked in the hedge-fund industry.
Farm girl: Britt's formative years were spent working her parents' farm outside of Manhattan, Kansas, where she dealt with distributors on the phone during the summers
'She provided me with the guidance necessary to navigate the industry,
as well as the insight and confidence to be successful in finance,' said
Britt in Harvard Magazine.
'In an industry dominated by males, it is hard to break in if you don’t know somebody or aren’t the type of person to get out there and push in.'
The organization was impressed with Britt, too: Janet Hanson, the founder of 85 Broads, remembers Ms. Britt from her internship.
'She had some sort of internal guiding system that was propelling her forward,' Ms. Hanson told the Washington Post.
'She was on rocket fuel... this was a gal who was going to get what she wanted.'
Business-minded: Britt says she always knew she wanted to be involved in investments and got a taste for business dealing with distributors on her parents' farm
meeting with Buffett was when she was fresh out of business school in 2009, when she
brought a bushel of sweet corn and fresh tomatoes from her parents' farm
to her meeting with the businessman.
Following this meeting, she was made Buffett's financial assistant and has gone from strength to strength.
'I intend to hire a younger
man or woman with the potential to manage a very large portfolio, who we
hope will succeed me as Berkshire's chief investment officer when the
need for someone to do that arises,' Buffett wrote in a letter to
shareholders in 2007.
'As part of the selection process, we may in fact take on several candidates.'
In May, Buffett announced at the annual Berkshire Hathaway shareholder meeting that he knows who his successor is, but he declined to name the person or persons.
But one thing is for sure: Tracy Britt is destined for great things - especially with a mentor like Buffett.
'Fellow males, get on board. The
closer that America comes to fully employing the talents of all its
citizens, the greater its output of goods and services will be,' he
wrote in Fortune magazine.
'We've seen what can be accomplished when we use 50 per cent of our human capacity. If you visualize what 100 per cent can do, you'll join me as an unbridled optimist about America's future.'