Tracy Britt Berkshire Roundtable Brings CEOs Together

Thursday, 13 Jun 2013 11:02 AM

By Clyde Hughes

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Last month, Warren Buffet's 28-year-old protégé Tracy Britt brought together CEOs from Berkshire Hathaway subsidiaries for an informal roundtable during Berkshire's annual meeting.

While the roundtable was voluntary, subjects ranged from incentive plans to the economy's health, a significant change for a conglomerate that is known for letting subsidiaries operate independently, according to the Wall Street Journal.

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Britt appears to have been grooming the subsidiaries for increased interaction, traveling far and wide to various Berkshire properties to learn more about businesses and what they face in a slowly recovering economy, the Wall Street Journal pointed out.

Buffet has slowly been giving Britt, who has been with Berkshire since 2009, more responsibility, making her chairman of four of its subsidiaries. Those subsidiaries, which include Benjamin Moore and Johns Manville, rake in $4 billion in annual sales.

Not bad for a person who showed up for her initial Berkshire interview with a bushel of corn and tomatoes, according to MSNMoney.com.

Britt, who has a Harvard MBA, grew up on a family farm in Kansas and the gesture in 2009 was to show Buffet her Midwestern connection, according to MSN.

The roundtable appears to be another sign of how Britt has won Buffet over. The Wall Street Journal said the next day more than 40 executives met for dinner, followed by discussions and breakout meetings.

“This was her brainchild,” Sam Taylor, CEO of Berkshire subsidiary Oriental Trading, told the Wall Street Journal.

One commenter on the financial services website Motley Fool wondered if Britt's roundtable could mean that bigger and more substantial changes are coming to Berkshire.

"If she is the CEO of several subs, then that tells me that maybe the culture is changing," wrote the commenter. "CEOs used to be independent (or so we were told). Having a roundtable at the annual meeting, maybe a change from independence to force synergies."

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