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What made you decide to pursue an Executive MBA?

I spent the better part of the last 10 years playing professional sports, and upon retirement I transitioned to working with the Enstar Group. I have always wanted to have a meaningful career in financial services, and I was looking for a way to bolster my underlying hard skills and enhance the other attributes that I've managed to develop through my sporting career. I figured that pursuing the right MBA would help me gain additional skills that would help me progress and elevate the impact that I could have.

How did it feel to receive the 75th Anniversary Scholarship?

It was really humbling. Particularly after understanding the background of the scholarship and what it represents. It’s even more humbling now that I’m immersed in the program and can see the incredibly high caliber of my fellow students and the professors. I have a great deal of pride for Booth, what it represents, and the impact that it has on those who are lucky enough to be a part of the community. I’m excited and hopeful that I can help propagate that going forward.

What has been a significant or memorable experience that you've had during your first quarter?

Obviously, the academics have been fascinating, challenging, and everything I could have hoped for, but one thing that has been really pleasant is the sense of camaraderie among students. Despite everything that’s been going on in the world and the challenges that we’re facing, my cohort has really come together as a community. I recently had a phone call in the evening with my first study group. We’ve now moved on to our second study group, so the phone call was just to catch up. We got on the call after all of us had worked a long day, but we still wanted to get on the phone and catch up. We laughed for an hour. It was a great testament to the fact that the integrity of the experience and the relationships are still being built despite the challenges.

Do you have any tips or advice for someone who’s considering the program right now?

The Executive MBA is not a small undertaking. I spoke to as many people as I could whose advice I value. I spoke to students who were enrolled and currently taking the program and I also spoke to people within my industry to get a sense of how the Booth MBA would impact my plans and aspirations. It was through that process of talking to as many people as possible that I started to get a pretty clear view that this was something that certainly made sense, but more than that, I was really hungry to pursue. Once you light that fire in your belly, it makes everything so much easier and exciting to follow through. It helps get you through what is, on some level, a challenging experience but you know that you're doing it for a reason and on the back of that you can manage to enjoy it a little bit.

About Hayden

Originally from Sydney, Australia, Smith studied finance at Metro State University Denver on a basketball scholarship. He began playing rugby in his spare time in Denver and was quickly elevated to the US national rugby team, the Eagles. Upon graduation in 2008, Smith joined Saracens RFC in England’s premiership, going on to win three premiership titles and one European cup in an eight-year career at the club. After representing the US in the 2011 Rugby World Cup, he took leave from rugby, signing for the New York Jets at tight end, making the active roster and seeing game time despite having never before played football. In 2016, Smith joined the Enstar Group, the insurance industry’s largest stand-alone runoff consolidator. Recently, Smith transitioned into a VP role within the group’s M&A function, a team responsible for the identification, diligence, and execution of a range of transactions across the insurance spectrum.

Makini Allwood

Assistant Director, Marketing and Communications

Makini works with the Global Admissions teams to craft content and communications targeted to prospective students. 

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