2016 Best MBAs: H. Kyle Hebenstreit, Indiana

Hayden Kyle Habenstreit Indiana

H. Kyle Hebenstreit


Indiana University, Kelley School of Business

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when I was reading the umpteenth action movie script and I realized that not much was changing in the creative development of our movies. What was changing was the business around the movies we were making and that caught my interest.”

Age: 28

Hometown: Indianapolis, IN

Education: University of Southern California – B.S. – Corporate Finance; Minor – Cinematic Arts, Critical Studies

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? Feature Development Coordinator & Advisor, Office of the CEO, Skydance Productions, LLP, Los Angeles, CA

Motion Picture Literary Trainee, William Morris Endeavor Entertainment, Beverly Hills, CA

Where did you intern during the summer of 2015? Corporate Strategy Intern, Cummins, Inc., Columbus, IN

Where will you be working after graduation? Senior Consultant, Strategy & Operations, Deloitte Consulting LLP, Chicago, IL

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School Merit Fellowship, Dean’s Student Satisfaction Task Force Lead, Professional Development Chair, Arts & Culture Chair, Hoosier Host, Johnson Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation Graduate Assistant, CORE Strategy Graduate Assistant

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I was asked to join a task force assembled by the deans of the business school, and we were entrusted with identifying ways in which the administration and faculty could improve student satisfaction within the MBA program. I led a team of six talented classmates to provide recommendations to the deans which were warmly received and resulted in the development of a new student entity, the Dean’s Insight Board. This self-sustaining team of selected students will implement necessary change, measure results, and craft future recommendations for continual improvement. In addition to the pride I feel by leading a team that built something valuable that will outlive our time at Kelley, I grew closer to all of my classmates in a unique way.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? While it is going way back, I applied for the opportunity to live and work on Capitol Hill for a semester as a U.S. Senate Page when I was sixteen years old. I’m proud that I took what I considered to be a risk, and I applied for the position. To my surprise, I was selected for the job and subsequently took a massive step outside of my comfort zone which was transformative for me. I matured considerably as I developed my understanding of professionalism; I developed a new level of independence, living in a city far from home; and I tested my level of comfort and found that risk-taking can lead to great experiences. However, the most profound impact it had on me was in resizing my world. Working on the floor of the U.S. Senate everyday, as a sixteen-year old, showed me that there was no such thing as a world outside of my reach.

Favorite MBA Courses? Brand Asset Management, Strategy, and Financial Statement Analysis

Why did you choose this business school? Beyond bringing me back home to the Midwest, I knew that Kelley offered the right cultural fit for me. After meeting students and faculty, I observed that the school’s tight-knit and welcoming community would be the right place for the personal and professional transformations I sought. I’m thankful that I made the right decision.

What did you enjoy most about business school? My professional community, prior to school, was pretty homogenous. Working in Hollywood, everyone was connected through an interest in film. At business school, I met and became close with people from a variety of backgrounds, with a variety of interests.  Particularly at Kelley, my experience was that, despite our different life experiences, there was a culture of mutual respect and admiration that made everyone warm and accessible. As a result, I learned so much through my classmates, and we had so much fun in the process.

What was the hardest part of business school? There’s a feeling of intense pressure and expectation around recruiting. So many recruiting interactions are inorganic, evaluative, and hard to analyze accurately. I felt like I was trying to mask my discomfort with confidence, and that internal struggle was a real challenge for me.

What’s your best advice to an applicant to your school? Be honest, open-minded, and ambitious. Take time to self-reflect and try to identify what you can do and what you want to do. If Kelley connects those two things for you – the essays will practically write themselves.

I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I was reading the umpteenth action movie script and I realized that not much was changing in the creative development of our movies. What was changing was the business around the movies we were making and that caught my interest.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…working as a creative development executive at a media company in Los Angeles.”

What are your long-term professional goals? Five years ago I was working at a talent agency, not thinking about consulting at all. Since then, I’ve worked on a number of movies, traveled internationally, met some heroes of mine, moved across the country, and completely pivoted my professional direction. At the end of the day, I want an interesting life that’s seen as a benefit to the world and my professional trajectory will always be shaped by that.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? My parents for showing what it’s like to work and live with integrity (They also loved me and sent me to great schools, which helps). My siblings, who are always showing me how to be better. And my friends for impressing humility – like inevitably mentioning that I shouldn’t be offering thanks for “success” quite yet.

Fun fact about yourself: An ancestor of mine, Thomas Stone, signed the Declaration of Independence.

Favorite book: On the Road by Jack Kerouac

Favorite movie: Casino

Favorite musical performer: Bob Dylan

Favorite television show: The Wire

Favorite vacation spot: Cartagena, Colombia

Hobbies? Running, swimming, rock climbing, eating & drinking with friends, and traveling, when possible.

What made H. Kyle such an invaluable addition to the class of 2016?

“I find it interesting that Kyle chose On the Road as his favorite book, because one of my favorite Jack Kerouac quotes from that novel sums up my thoughts on him perfectly – “I liked him; not because he was a good sort, as he later proved to be, but because he was enthusiastic about things.” Kyle’s insatiable curiosity may only be surpassed as his greatest quality by his infectious energy. Both were always on display while he was at Kelley, and that’s why we’ll miss him so much.

Kyle’s curiosity drove him to take advantage of every opportunity to improve himself while in our program. With a non-traditional background in entertainment he could have easily focused on “soft-skill” courses and majors and cruised through his MBA. But he didn’t – he intentionally chose to focus on business analytics and enroll in the most difficult finance classes because he wanted to maximize his stretch. He simply had to test his limits. He joined the consulting academy to grow his logical thinking and project management skills; he joined the leadership academy to improve his ability to coach others and develop high performing teams; he took a personal visioning class and a mindful leadership class to engage in deeper self-reflection. He even started an incubator to help students better access university resources because he wanted to know if he could improve the system. Kyle never missed an opportunity to learn and grow.

Despite his many commitments and the difficulty of his choices, he always kept smiling – in fact, he embraced every challenge with a skip in his step. Kyle possessed an energy and a passion that showed up in everything he did, and it improved the culture around the program. He tackled case interview preparation with ferocity; he kept his classmates motivated during a leadership development exercise after 6 hours of being in the forest at night; and he was like a kid on Christmas morning during a mindful leadership retreat. My favorite “Kyle” moment came during a leadership academy training event when we were talking about the importance of presence in coaching – Kyle gave an impassioned monologue about we all have the ability to choose our attitude and choose how we affect others. It was like listening to Herb Brooks talk to the U.S. “Miracle” hockey team, and it fired everybody up – including the facilitators. A full round of applause followed, and his classmates still tell me about how they think of that moment when coaching their mentees.

Kyle is very deserving of his selection as a Poets&Quants “Best and Brightest” MBA, as he is certainly one of the best and brightest students I have had the pleasure of getting to know.” — Eric Johnson, Director of Graduate Career Services, Indiana University, Kelley School of Business


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