The payoff of perseverance

emmanuel machena, b.b.a.'17

It’s impossible to be succinct when talking about Emmanuel Machena, B.B.A.’17.

He can be described as a networker extraordinaire and a goal-setting fiend. He’s also a forward thinker, entrepreneur, and yes, a proud Haworth College of Business alumnus.

While Machena graduated from Western Michigan University only two years ago, its apparent his time as a Business Bronco was spent both deliberately and purposefully—networking, interning, and challenging the status quo any chance he could. Ultimately, Machena touts his involvement with Starting Gate, WMU’s student business accelerator, as the most valuable experience of his college career.

“Through Starting Gate, I learned so many tremendous skills about how to build an idea into a formulated product that could eventually impact everyday lives,” Machena shares.

And that product is called EZ Timeout, a fabric room divider designed for dorms, homes and offices. Developed through Starting Gate with the help of mentors like Lara Hobson, EZ Timeout won Machena and his team $1,200 at the annual WMU Pitch Competition and ultimately landed him in the semi-finals of the Detroit Accelerate Michigan Competition. “The immense opportunities the business college provides are there for everyone,” he says. “All you need to do is apply yourself.”

While Machena found success in innovation and entrepreneurship, he never stopped pursuing his goal of working in the financial industry. During his time at WMU, he interned at four different companies, doing everything from performing financial analysis for a local restaurant, to expense forecasting at a top auto lending company, to selecting fixed income investment instruments at a wealth management firm. “Even though my internship roles were very different, they all encouraged me to build a specific set of skills,” Machena shares. “I chased analytical and quantitative skills because they were my top strengths.”

And it paid off. He is now using what he learned in college at his role as a private equity analyst for BlackRock, the world’s largest investment asset manager. Here, Machena is responsible for performing diligence on investments across a range of industries. But it wasn’t a straight and easy road to BlackRock. It took dedication, focus and a bit of luck.

“I applied to several private equity and finance firms before graduation,” Machena says. “Although I got rejected by some of them, I got accepted into one of my top picks. The moral of the story is to keep improving yourself at each and every step.  The weak deflate while the wise reflect.”

And that motto is what Machena continues to live by. His ambitious spirit and determination is what got him to the place he is today, but he’s not looking to slow down on his quest for success anytime soon.  

“Never be comfortable with staying complacent and never let others define your success,” Machena explains. “Being where I am today, compared to where I started, I can firmly say that hard work, focus and perseverance definitely pay off.”