Where did America’s richest man and one of Wall Street’s most powerful CEOs meet face to face for the first time after their $5 billion deal? The Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit, a three-day, invitation-only gathering of the world’s most prominent women leaders.
So who let the guys in? Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway and Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein were two of just three men invited this year; the third was Fortune managing editor Andy Serwer. (The conference organizers broke their women-only standard to include this high-powered trio.) Blankfein and Buffett committed to the Summit months before, and the timing couldn’t have been better.
On the dates the Summit took place, October 1-3, both men were at the center of events unfolding back on Wall Street. Fresh off securing Buffett’s big vote of confidence – a $5 billion investment in Goldman preferred shares – Blankfein flew to San Diego to present the inaugural Goldman Sachs/Fortune Global Women Leaders Award at the Summit’s opening night dinner. The award went to two businesswomen from Kenya who participated in a mentoring program that Fortune, through the Summit, runs with the U.S. State Department. Buffett was at the dinner too, and the next morning, he talked about the market meltdown – “an economic Pearl Harbor,” he called it – and why he decided to invest a combined $8 billion in Goldman and General Electric . You can view video excerpts from his interview with Fortune‘s Carol Loomis here. And click here to read Fortune‘s current cover story about GE, by Geoffrey Colvin.
Late that Thursday evening, Buffett hosted a bridge tournament in the lobby of the Four Seasons Aviara. Procter & Gamble group president Melanie Healey, No. 37 on the 2008 Fortune Most Powerful Women list, won the tourney. While Buffett proved his endurance (the clock struck midnight, and he was still playing), this may be the only deal that Buffett lost that week.
World’s greatest investor. Wall Street titan. We can’t think of a better first pair of men to have attended the premier women’s business event. – Scott Cendrowski