From Corporate to Entrepreneurship: Manuel Trujillo
Through education and perseverance, Manuel Trujillo has managed to achieve his long-term business goals, now leading a successful company.
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Manuel Trujillo’s story is one of great determination, will and faith.
Today, he is the president and CEO of Swain Techs, an award-winning system technology integrator that delivers innovative and customer-centric technology solutions in the areas of artificial intelligence, software development, automation, analytics, cybersecurity, systems engineering, block chaining, and more.
However, prior to leading this successful company, Trujillo came to the United States like many others — with little resources and in search of the American Dream.
He arrived in the U.S. with no job, no income, and was living in an attic in Trenton, New Jersey with his newlywed wife, Margarita.
Despite his situation, Trujillo set big goals for himself upon his arrival to the United States: entering corporate America, and making it as an entrepreneur in the U.S. within 15 to 20 years.
It took four months, 500 resumes, 30 job interviews and dozens of rejections before he was finally given a chance, when he was hired by Motorola, where he worked for 14 years before moving to Swain Techs in 2010.
Since Trujillo joined Swain Techs, the company has seen tremendous growth — including its main office in Horsham, PA, and others in Alexandria, VA, Pasadena, CA, Washington, DC, and Baltimore, MD — in terms of both the amount of clients and revenue, and also the number of employees from five to nearly 50.
At Swain Techs, it’s all about the employees and the customers.
“We love to understand the needs of the customers, align them with the mission and put technology behind that as an element to enable them,” said Trujillo.
The company is responsible for helping implement the first block chain in the federal government.
“I always like to hire people better than myself, they are there when I need them,” Trujillo said of what he credits with the company’s growth and success.
Swain Techs is run by four core values, the first of which is to delight clients.
“Our mission is to align with the [clients’] mission, delight them, make them happy and help them achieve their dreams,” said Trujillo.
The second core value is amplifying the employee base.
“We want our people to grow with us personally and professionally,” Trujillo said. “So, we encourage experience training, we let them take risks. And even if they make mistakes, we’re okay with that, as long as we learn from it.”
The third core value is transparency.
“If [anyone] is in trouble, raise your hand, find a solution [and] don’t hide,” added Trujillo.
The fourth core value is to be humble.
“I think that has been our formula, and the desire to take risks and innovate, has been the formula to allow us to grow,” Trujillo said.
Spurred by his longtime dream to travel to the U.S., Trujillo then came to the U.S. to pursue a Certificate of Special Studies in Marketing and Management from the Harvard University Extension School, before returning to Colombia where he worked as a value-added reseller that integrated high-end computer network solutions.
But when he later returned to the U.S., Trujillo had no job and lived in an attic while applying for job after job.
When asked how he was able to have the perseverance needed to continue trying after so many rejections, he said: “It’s the dream, just having a clear mind where we want to be. I didn’t let that bring me down.”
The 15-to-20 year goal of being in corporate America was off and running for Trujillo.
To keep himself motivated and continue to strive towards his goal, Trujillo attended the Columbia Business School in New York City to study for his MBA in management & investment.
During his time at Motorola, he helped expand the company’s market and global product activity, which saw his product line increase ten-fold within four years.
Trujillo’s resilience after so many rejections is reflective of a quality he sees within the Hispanic, and immigrant, communities as a whole.
Many immigrants come to the United States in search of a better life and more opportunity.
“Latinos, generally immigrants, we come from countries where some economic situations are not easy for many people,” said Trujillo.
According to CNN Business, more than 80% of all new businesses in the U.S. over the last decade has been launched by U.S. Latinos.
That entrepreneurial mindset, in many cases, is due in part to the situations many immigrants experienced in their native countries.
Trujillo credits many of the organizations and groups that exist to help the Latino and Hispanic community for helping him, and encourages the community to utilize them also.
One, in particular, is the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business program, a program he utilized upon his early venture into entrepreneurship.
“Even though I had my MBA... this [program] really enabled a lot of tools that have helped me into the company,” said Trujillo.
Hispanics and other communities can get a lot done as businesspeople and entrepreneurs through education, training and networking.
Trujillo further listed ingenuity, problem solving skills and the ability to get things done with very limited resources, as some of the factors that play into how many Hispanics are able to become entrepreneurs in the U.S.
“That is what entrepreneurship is,” added Trujillo. “You have not much money, limited time and you’re struggling a lot. So that experience of solving problems, challenges with very little resources, was a good training ground for them to come and start entrepreneurship.”
These available organizations can go a long way towards helping create, and then scale and grow business ideas.
There are more than 5 million Latinx-owned businesses, making up nearly half of minority-owned businesses. However, in the tech sector, the Latinx population only represents 3% of the workforce.
Trujillo loves working in the tech industry because of his passion for solving complex problems and how tech provides an opportunity for innovation.
“I’ve gained a lot of productivity in solving very complex programs through technology,” he said.
Trujillo has great optimism for the future of the Hispanic and immigrant community in the U.S.
The Hispanic community continues to make huge contributions to the nation, and that will only continue to grow as the population grows.
“We’re [aiming to leave] a better country after we die, that’s our mission, regardless of our nationality, race, color, religion,” Trujillo said.
He added that this nation provides the tools and opportunities for people to do just that, and be able to follow their dreams.
“And the more we do it, the more we become a nation of one,” he added.
Through his own struggles, Trujillo has maintained his ability and determination to remain positive through any situation, and not be afraid to make mistakes.
“The framework of when you make a mistake: ask, ‘What can I learn?’ What can I use so I can improve?’” he said.
“You apply that to every challenge in your life, that model, [and] it will help you to follow your dreams,” he added.
Trujillo knew exactly what his dream was, had a plan for how to get there, and worked until he achieved that dream.
“My dream was to be in corporate, learn, and then be an entrepreneur, with all the challenges in between, but with a mental framework of continue learning, being humble, and learning from [my] mistakes,” he said.
“The only mistake that you make is not learning from your mistakes,” he added.
As a piece of advice based on his own experiences, Trujillo would encourage anyone with a dream to continue to follow it no matter how many times they may feel its unachievable.
That’s how he was able to make it.