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Meet Warren Buffett's Top Troubleshooter: Tracy Britt Cool

The 29-year-old chairs four Berkshire Hathaway units employing more than 10,000 people
Tracy Britt Cool in Washington on Oct. 16
Tracy Britt Cool in Washington on Oct. 16Photograph by Paul Morigi/Getty Images for FORTUNE

When Warren Buffett bought half of a commercial real estate finance operation in 2009, he hired Tracy Britt Cool, a 25-year-old fresh out of business school, to keep tabs on the investment. Since then the company, now known as Berkadia Commercial Mortgage, has earned back most of the $217 million that his Berkshire Hathaway spent on the deal. Its success has also helped propel Cool’s career.

Now 29, Cool is one of Buffett’s most trusted advisers, traveling the country to assist a constellation of companies too small to command her boss’s attention. “She thinks like I would,” Buffett says. His confidence in Cool is one reason he agreed to acquire party-supply seller Oriental Trading in 2012: “I might not have bought it” if it meant adding another CEO to supervise, he says. “To not add one more to my list, I just said, ‘Tracy, take this on.’ ”