It is not often that we hear today of people making it from the absolute dead bottom of society to the fairyland of the ultra-rich, jetsetting elite. But such is the case of Luiz Carlos Trabuco, the CEO of Bradesco, one of the most important financial institutions in Latin America.
Trabuco was born in the small town of Marilia, Sao Paulo in 1951. He was an excellent student, receiving mostly As throughout his career. Trabuco had ambitions of attending college, but when he finally graduated in 1969, he lacked the funds to attend the prestigious University of Sao Paulo.
As a result, he embarked upon a mission to find his first job. One of the first places he came across in his search was a branch of a small local bank. Bradesco had been in operation since 1943, but the bank had largely confined its business to the town of Marilia and its immediate vicinity.
Trabuco was granted an interview and the hiring manager was immediately impressed. He was offered the job. Over the first year of his employment, Trabuco proved willing and able to learn all aspects of the banking business. He quickly mastered most of the tasks involved with running the bank, proving particularly facile with numbers. By the end of his first year, Trabuco had already been appointed to the position of branch manager.
Now making good money for the first time in his life, Trabuco decided throughout the 1970s to pursue his dream of getting an advanced degree. Although he was working up to 60 hours per week at the bank, he still was able to attend night school at the University of Sao Paulo. Throughout the 70s, he was able to first attain a bachelor’s degree in business administration then a master’s degree in social psychology. Both of these areas of learning would prove to be useful later in his career.
By 1984, Trabuco had become on of the bank’s rising stars. He was appointed to his first ever executive role by the bank’s chairman himself. Tapped to head up the bank’s marketing and public relations unit, Trabuco immediately began a program of modernization that would significantly alter the way in which the unit approached its duties.
He first started forging strong relationships with local media personalities. This helped the bank make inroads with the local media outlets in the markets where it operated. Trabuco also involved the bank in sponsoring local charity drives and sporting events. This also aided in improving the company’s public image.
By the time he left the marketing department in 1992, the bank had one of the most well-known brands in the state of Sao Paulo. This represented a major victory for the bank and for Trabuco personally. His higher-ups quickly took notice.
In 1992, he was again tapped for an executive position with the bank. This time, Trabuco would be in charge of heading the company’s struggling financial planning division. It was here that Trabuco began implementing changes to the fundamental ways in which the bank does business, many of which are still in place today. He was able to begin specifically targeting the wealthy-client market, a sector that was booming as Brazil began producing a large class of ultra-rich elites.
This strategy proved to be as prophetic as it was profitable. Before long, Bradesco’s balance sheet began engorging with the deposits of the country’s oligarchs. This enabled the bank to radically expand its loan origination activities, helping it grow into one of the most prolific lenders in all of Latin America.
As a result of these achievements, Trabuco is widely recognized as the key figure in Bradesco’s rise to prominence.