Throughout his career, Luiz Carlos Trabuco has striven to be the best at what he does an to create the best results for his firm. He has been single-handedly responsible for transforming many departments of Bradesco from insignificant businesses into huge profit centers. And he has steadily risen through the ranks, proven himself a capable and visionary leader again and again.
But Trabuco’s rise to the post of CEO has proven to be one of his biggest challenges to date. He has faced a difficult macroeconomic environment, where organic growth is hard to come by and prospects for acquisition have largely been already consumed, whether by competitors or by Bradesco itself. However, Luiz Carlos Trabuco continues to follow his unique vision. Over the last two years, the stock price has more than doubled. And his 2015 acquisition of HSBC Brazil is the largest such transaction in Brazil’s history. It has also positioned the company to be a ferocious competitor in the years to come.
From the mail room to the boardroom
Although Trabuco didn’t literally start out in Bradesco’s mail room, he did start out at one of the lowliest positions in the company: bank teller. Trabuco started working for the firm in 1969, at the age of just 18. He quickly drew the attention of his superiors for his competence and ease at learning new tasks. He was a natural leader. And before long, Trabuco was given his first management roles, first as a shift manager, then as a branch manager.
By the 1980s, he had put himself through school, earning a master’s degree in social psychology, and he was heading the regional operations for Bradesco, which had now grown into a major player in the state of Sao Paolo’s financial industry. In 1984, he was made head of the firm’s marketing department. By that time, the young executive had 15 years of experience in the banking industry and was a recently minted graduate from one of the best schools in Brazil. That, mixed with his own administrative talent, would prove to be a potent combination.
Throughout the 80s, Trabuco transformed the bank’s relationship with the media, which, until then, had been problematic. He started cultivating positive relationships with journalists and local media outlets. He also started engaging in public relations efforts. All of this paid off. By the early 1990s, Grupo Bradesco was a national player in the financial space.
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In 1992, Trabuco was promoted again, this time to the presidency of the company’s financial planning division. Here, he had a chance to put some of his contrarian theories to the test. Trabuco understood, to an extent his superiors did not, that the banking industry is largely a commodity business. It is extremely difficult to gain a significant edge over the competition competing on the end product alone. Trabuco wanted to start distinguishing Bradesco as having the highest level of customer service in the industry, especially for its most valuable clients.
This theory proved lucrative. Throughout the 90s, Trabuco grew the financial planning division from a small portion of the firm’s total business into a unit accounting for more than 25 percent of the company’s profits. This enormous success was duly noticed by the corporation’s top brass. In 2003, he was again promoted, this time to the head of the company’s insurance department.
At Bradesco Seguros, Trabuco once again was able to significantly grow the business under his charge, leading to sales more than doubling. He grew the insurance division until it became the largest provider of retail insurance policies in the country. By 2009, all of these successes conspired to make Trabuco into the leading candidate to replace outgoing CEO Mario Cypriano.
In 2009, Trabuco was named CEO of Grupo Bradesco. Although his tenure as CEO has been rockier than some may have expected, he has repositioned Bradesco as the leading financial institution in Brazil. The firm’s future is as bright as it’s ever been.
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