Meet Tracy Britt, Warren Buffett's 28-year-old protege

The 82-year-old investor is grooming the former farm girl and Harvard MBA for a senior role at Berkshire Hathaway when he steps down.

By Aimee Picchi Jun 12, 2013 1:10PM

Berkshire Hathaway Chairman Warren Buffett rings the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange on September 30, 2011 (© Brendan McDermid/Newscom/Reuters)Warren Buffett is arguably the best-known and most successful investor in America. But one big question tugging at his Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B) shareholders is what his company will look like when he steps down.

While that remains a mystery, one 28-year-old employee is emerging as a rising star and being groomed by Buffett to take on a senior role when he's no longer running the show, The Wall Street Journal reports.

That employee is Tracy Britt, who holds a Harvard MBA and shares Buffett's Midwestern roots, having grown up on a Kansas farm. She's emerging as one of his top executives and serves as chairman of four companies in his conglomerate (she's not among those pictured). 

Buffett last month said he knows who his successor is but is not ready to disclose that information. Leading candidates include investment managers Todd Combs and Ted Weschler, as well as MidAmerican CEO Greg Abel, the Atlantic reports. 

Like Combs and Weschler, Britt was picked by Buffett from relative obscurity and then tapped to handle major Berkshire responsibilities.

Here are five more facts about Britt:

She took a bushel of corn to her interview. When she arrived in Omaha, Neb., in 2009 to meet Buffett, she took a gift that underscored their shared roots to the Plains states -- a bushel of corn and some tomatoes. 

Britt is the chairman of companies with $4 billion in annual sales. Four years after her initial interview, Britt now serves as the chairman of paint manufacturer Benjamin Moore and building products company Johns Manville. 

Some people see her as a replacement for David Sokol. He was Buffett's former protege and a former Berkshire business manager who resigned in 2011 amid a conflict-of-interest controversy. 

Britt has an "internal guiding system." Jane Hanson, the founder of the women's networking group 85 Broads, describes Britt as having "some sort of internal guiding system that was propelling her forward." When Hanson asked her interns to pick stocks they thought were good investments, Britt avoided highfliers like BlackBerry (BBRY) and picked Unilever (UL), the type of practical company Buffett favors. 

Britt's family farm started in 1948. She grew up on Britt's Garden Acres, outside Manhattan, Kan., started by her family in 1948. The farm grows produce ranging from sweet corn to strawberries and runs tours and barn parties. 

Follow Aimee Picchi on Twitter at @aimeepicchi.

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When you "meet" someone, it is normally face to face or at least for us, a good picture would do.   All we have now is a bushel of corn and some tomatoes to relate to.

Jun 12, 2013 10:45PM
Todd, Ted and now Tracy....Yup, I think the old man is finally losing it.....
Jun 12, 2013 3:46PM
Good for Ms. Britt, sounds like she's well on her way. I like the bushel of corn and tomatoes when first meeting Warren...nice touch!
Jun 12, 2013 5:43PM
She just paraphrased the WSJ article (poorly).
Jun 13, 2013 9:52AM
So much for hard work paying off. What about all those people under him that more than likely got him to where he is today, the peons of someones success. Happens every day and honestly there's no other word for it but, "sad."
Jun 13, 2013 4:54PM
A lot of the Peons under Warren or at BERK....Are Millionaires.
Jun 13, 2013 9:04AM
So, where are all of Britt's pictures? No one in Omaha has seen her. And so far, all she does is chauffer big bucks Buffet to lunch. But, the one picture I saw of her....she is better looking than sleazy Sokol. 
Jun 12, 2013 1:57PM
So the next generation corporate pirate, whoopee!!!
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