In today’s cutthroat globalized economy, it has become increasingly rare to hear of a true Horatio Alger story. With the increasingly rigid stratification of society, not just financially or socially but cognitively, it has become ever more difficult for any one born into the lower castes of society to transcend their life’s station.
It is for this reason that when we do hear of genuine rags-to-riches stories of those who rose to the top of the heap, through hard work and determination, it is uncommonly inspiring. Such is the case with the story of Bradesco CEO Luiz Carlos Trabuco. Brazil’s most powerful CEO wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth, connected to all the right people by virtue of his family’s associations. On the contrary, he was born into extremely humble circumstances. And he managed to rocket himself to the top of the Brazilian corporate word, despite having to overcome many obstacles along the way.
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A summer job turns into a career
Trabuco’s journey to the top of the Brazilian corporate world began in 1969 when, at the age of 18, he got his first job at a then-small banking concern in a small town called Marilia. At the time, the bank he worked at, Bradesco, had just a couple branches. But both Trabuco and the firm at which he worked would begin growing in tandem. By the end of his first year, Trabuco had demonstrated that he had a high aptitude for learning and leadership. Within a few years, he was managing his own branch. Then he was managing multiple branches. By 1984, he was a regional manager for what was now becoming one of the largest players in the state of Sao Paolo’s banking industry. He was then promoted to head of the firm’s advertising department.
But this is where the story of Luiz Carlos Trabuco stops being of the classic Horatio Alger variety and takes on a different hue. By the mid-1980s, when Trabuco was appointed to his first executive role, he had already acquired a master’s degree in social psychology and a business degree from the University of Sao Paolo, one of the country’s most prestigious academies. Far from the underprivileged and uneducated kid that had gotten his first job at a bank, Trabuco had converted himself into an international cosmopolitan, steeped in the modern philosophy of international business and globalization. Increasingly, it was no longer Bradesco that was shaping Trabuco but Trabuco who was bringing the lessons of modern finance and international business to Bradesco.
It was in his role as marketing director for the firm that Trabuco began exerting real influence on the direction of the company. He revamped the marketing department, focusing on maximizing the company’s image through PR campaigns in all of the markets where it operated. He began sponsoring local charity events such as food drives and Christmas gift giveaways with the company’s name prominently displayed. At the same time he began forming strong relationships with local media personalities, something that his predecessors had completely ignored to their detriment. The company previously had a prickly reputation and had been out of favor with the media as a whole.
But it was finally after being appointed head of the company’s financial planning division that Trabuco really started changing the corporate culture towards a convergence with the norms of globalization. Prior to his tenure at the head of that division, the old regime had encouraged the absolute equal treatment of all customers, no matter how much the contributed to the company’s bottom line.
Trabuco quickly threw that philosophy out the window. Taking a page from New York finance, he quickly established a separate banking line for high-net-worth clients. This featured separate, luxuriously appointed facilities and many high-end complementaries. This strategy proved to be a success.
All of this modernization propelled Trabuco to the top of his firm. But the question remains whether people will remember him as a self-made tycoon or an agent for soulless modernity.
Learn more about lUiz Carlos Trabuco: http://www.arenadopavini.com.br/arenas-das-empresas/trabuco-do-bradesco-diz-que-2017-deve-ser-ano-da-virada-economica