3/ In 1978, Mr. Jain decided to pursue an MBA, this time from the Harvard Business School. By his own admission, he did not enjoy the curriculum at HBS: “I was a little disappointed with what they taught us in business school. A lot of it seemed so obvious..”
4/ After graduation, he joined McKinsey as a Consultant. But he quit the job in 1981. “Playing consultant, drawing charts in the middle of the night, wasn’t as much fun (as Sales).. one fine day in 1981, I just felt like I’d been there and done it, so I pulled the plug.”
5/ Immediately in 1982, Michael Goldberg, Ajit Jain’s former boss at McKinsey, called him join Berkshire Hathaway. Mr. Goldberg had been running the show at Berkshire Hathaway’s Insurance arm. Considering how the Insurance business was alien to him, Mr. Jain declined the offer.
6/ Between 1982-85, he went back to India and got married. Then he had to move back to the USA because his wife hadn’t ‘gotten the western world out of her system’. Ironically, he applied and was re-hired as a Consultant in McKinsey. Later, he would call this a ‘second mistake’.
7/ Finally in 1986, Ajit Jain took up Michael Goldberg’s offer to join Berkshire Hathaway’s National Indemnity business. Later, he would admit: “When I joined Berkshire, I didn’t know how to spell insurance, or reinsurance.” But he was intrigued by some deals and the numbers.
12/ In 1998, Ajit Jain added Annuity products to Berkshire Hathway’s insurance portfolio, which now account for a significant portion of the firm’s Revenues. Between new revenue streams, great deals and the massive re-insurance float, Mr. Jain was instrumental to BRK’s growth.
14/ In 2001, terrorists attacked the Twin Towers. Following this ugly event, insurers turned cautious. Ajit Jain, however, insured the Sears Tower in Chicago, then America’s largest tower and the 2002 Winter Olympics at Salt Lake City, both feared to be terrorist targets.
16/ In 2009-10, Ajit Jain became the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway’s Reinsurance business. It was around this time that Warren Buffett wrote the words of praise mentioned in the opening statement of this thread. Ajit Jain became CEO in style indeed.
17/ Soon, a journalist approached Ajit Jain for an interview citing rumors of him becoming BRK’s CEO. He declined it with a note: “..any disappointment I have caused you by declining the interview is far less than the disappointment I would have caused you by granting it.”
22/ For more on Ajit Jain, read: 1. Berkshire Hathaway Shareholder Letters 2. “Berkshire Beyond Buffett” by Lawrence A. Cunningham 3. “The Warren Buffett CEO” by P. Robert Miles 4. “Snowball” by Alice Schroeder 5. “University of Berkshire Hathaway” by Pecaut and Wrenn