FINSwire Mar 03 2010

David Sokol Next in Line at Berkshire Hathaway?

FINSwire Team

It's no secret that legendary investor Warren Buffett has been seeking a successor. Rumor is that his pick is David Sokol, chairman of MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co., a Midwestern utility owned by Berkshire Hathaway Inc., according to The Wall Street Journal. He also was recently also given charge of Berkshire's NetJets Inc. air-rental business in need of a turnaround

So, what's the boss-in-waiting like? Sokol, 53, is described as "hard charging." He assesses employee performance on a monthly basis, ranking each by who he would fire (or hire) first if needed. He attributes his success to a "driving fear of failure" that forces him to give 110%, arriving earlier and staying later to meet goals. He wrote about his approach to management in a self-published book called "Pleased But Not Satisfied."

Sokol grew up in Omaha and graduated from University of Nebraska at Omaha as a civil engineer. Like Buffett, he was a newspaper-delivery boy and worked at a small grocery store. He has a 120-acre farm with a riding track in Northwest Omaha and three Clydesdales.

Buffett is reported to have a sealed envelope in his office bearing his successor's name. But according to the Journal, he'd need not one, but two execs to fill his shoes: a chief executive who would run the 80 or so companies in the conglomerate and a chief investment officer who would oversee its investment portfolio.

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