George Madrigal, CEO of Penserra

George Madrigal, CEO of Penserra

By Angela Zheng

Although George Madrigal, CEO of Penserra, and I share the fact that we’re both first generation immigrant kids, our upbringing could not be more different.

I grew up in a bubble essentially, sheltered from many common life trials like poverty and manual labor. In fact, my parents asked me not to work in high school because they wanted me to focus on education. Of course I didn’t listen, but many kids don’t have the luxury to choose. Only in college did I realize how blessed I was, and hearing George speak about his upbringing motivated me to really take advantage of what I have.

He started his presentation unraveling his complicated journey to his current life. His parents were blue collar workers, so college wasn’t even on his mind until he joined the Upwards Bound Program in high school, after which he applied only to CSU Fullerton. Throughout college, he earned various internships in accounting and finance, through which he discovered his passion for finance. However without an ivy league education, many investment banks blew him off, but Madrigal kept his head down and worked harder. That finally lead him to his big break running a portfolio for Wells Fargo. He later transitioned to Barclays Global Investors and worked his way up to Head of Transition Management. After the financial crash of ‘08, he decided he wanted to start his own boutique firm, and thus Penserra was born.

Hearing his story of rags to riches inspires me to dream bigger and work harder. I had never planned on attending community college, but I am so glad I did. Because through the Finance Club and hearing speakers like George, I learned an invaluable lesson of gratitude, perseverance, and hard work. I hope to lead a similarly successful life so that I can, like him, come back to my roots and pay it forward. Thanks to Michael and The Street Smarts, I was able to earn an external auditing internship at PricewaterhouseCoopers. Through this internship, I’m going to take advantage of every opportunity and begin my own journey.

Thank you to Luis and Greg, co-presidents of the Finance Club, for providing the opportunity to listen to George speak. And thank you to Michael and The Street Smarts for providing me an opportunity to make my own story.

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