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Thoughts on Tracy Britt?


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As a shareholder and observer of Berkshire, I enjoy any opportunity to learn more about the individuals at HQ. The article below suggests some not so great things about Tracy Britt. She is on a number of boards within Berkshire, so her ability and reputation are important both now and for the future.

 

Any thoughts, am I worrying too much about the suggestions in the article. Any one else have any additional information about Tracy.

 

http://finance.yahoo.com/blogs/the-exchange/warren-buffett-big-blunder-172615856.html

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I think it's too premature to come to any conclusions on Tracy Britt.  Those articles seemed quite sensationalistic, so I'm not sure they carry much weight with me.  Time will show if she is qualified or not, but Buffett certainly thinks she's talented...at the same time, she is young too.  I would let time guide any decision on her abilities.  Cheers!

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I think it's too premature to come to any conclusions on Tracy Britt.  Those articles seemed quite sensationalistic, so I'm not sure they carry much weight with me.  Time will show if she is qualified or not, but Buffett certainly thinks she's talented...at the same time, she is young too.  I would let time guide any decision on her abilities.  Cheers!

 

On the one hand, I think that a major reason Buffett has hired her and given her such public roles is that she is a woman.  Buffett has made clear that he thinks more women should be in positions of responsibility and he is putting his money where his mouth is here. 

 

On the other hand, I don't think she would get some much publicity (and associated criticism) if it was some bright 29 year old guy Buffett had hired to be his eyes and ears at a minor subsidiary.

 

So basically, I agree with Sanjeev (as usual).  Time will tell if she is a good executive.  I certainly haven't seen any evidence that she is responsible for any of the snafus at the paintco.

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I have met Tracy and talked with her many times. True, she doesn't have much experience -- but she seems to have Buffett's 3 qualities of a good manager: intelligence, integrity, and drive. Buffett likes having someone to do the "dirty work" for him. Tracy's roll seems like it's to check up on companies, especially those that need more attention. The Benjamin Moore problem came up last year and Buffett probably thought it was a good test for her -- she's not running the company, she's filling part of Buffett's role.

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Thanks for all the responses! I appreciate the first hand experiences and insights!

 

Also, when watching the interviews on CNBC with Warren from yesterday, there is one where Buffett refers to the hiring at Benjamin Moore that resulted in the most recent leader change. In that clip he says he "concurred on who was put in."

 

I feel more comfortable with the whole thing. Thanks!

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....I think that a major reason Buffett has hired her and given her such public roles is that she is a woman....

 

That is a sexist comment!

 

Buffett has tried to be GENDER-NEUTRAL in his business/investment decisions. He is asking us to be gender-neutral in our outlook (did you watch his latest Fortune interview?) Tracy is in her position because of her capabilities, not because of the gender.

 

With all due respect, I don't think it is a sexist comment (although I am not very PC in general).  When someone publicly champions the cause of having more women executives, and then very publicly hires a women executive, I think it's fair to say that the two might have something to do with each other.

 

Do you think it's sexist that Buffett says there should be more women executives?  Or by corollary, is it sexist that he is essentially saying their should be less male executives?

 

I'm sure he hired her based on merit, but given a male and female candidate that were equally qualified, I think it is safe to say that he would go with the woman because he has championed that cause.

 

This is no different than Prem's BBRY investment.  I'm sure he made it on the merits of the company, but it is a nice bonus for him (investment results thus far notwithstanding) that it is as Canadian company, because he wants to see Canadian companies succeed.

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To me there is no mystery here.  I am not sure why some feel such offense that Buffett might have chosen a young female when he wouldn't have chosen a male with the exact same qualifications.  Anyone who has been around has seen this kind of thing many times.  It's pretty cliché.  The senior guy has a young female protégé who is attractive, but not too attractive.  She is able to "get away" with things that others can't.  For example, she might push him harder on issues than others might and he doesn't even get angry about it when with others he would shut it down quickly.  She laughs at his jokes and makes him feel very important.  When they talk she touches his arm often enough to make him feel good, but not so often that it will cause tongues to wag.  And, of course, she's smart and qualified, but those aren't the only factors that went into the hiring at least internally.

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Perhaps, but the problem is stereotypes is less about their usefulness in a given situation, and more about the way they embed in the mind as a bias. Maybe you have seen such a situation again and again. Or maybe you saw it a couple of times, formed a quick and rough heuristic, and manufactured the other half dozen times that you think you saw.

 

I think that I would be annoyed as an older man, or a younger women of non-threatening attractiveness, if people took a glance, and then made up their minds before the glance was done.

 

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In that clip he says he "concurred on who was put in."

 

I feel more comfortable with the whole thing. Thanks!

 

That is a bad statement IMO.  I dont ever expect him to disagree openly in public. If he says concur, it implies he doesnt like it. If he likes the decision, He is usually very upbeat about it.

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