In the modern globalized business world, few people are able to climb up the corporate ladder from the bottom to the top. So often, people who end up running the largest global corporations begin their careers in elite schools and graduate immediately to executive roles. If the Horatio Alger story of completely transcending class through hard work and applied talent is not dead, in many areas, it seems little more than a fairy tale.
However, there are still some hard-working individuals who have successfully made it from the bottom of the corporate ladder all the way to the top. One such case is that of Luiz Carlos Trabuco, the current CEO of Bradesco, by some measures, the largest bank in Brazil. After getting a job with the bank in 1969, with no secondary education, he managed to slowly propel himself all the way to the executive suite, becoming captain of one of the largest banking markets in the world.
But like many self-made millionaires, he remains humble about his accomplishments. He is one of the least flashy CEOs in the country, eschewing ostentatious spending for work itself and driving late model cars. He is also known to work as many as 12 hours a day. For capitalism’s naysayers, Trabuco is living proof that it is possible to dramatically improve one’s station in life, so long as that person is willing to put in the hard work to change it.
From cubicle to mahogany desk
Luiz Carlos Trabuco started his career at the lowest rung of the Bradesco ladder. He was hired on in 1969 as a bank teller, a job at which he would quickly prove adept. Over the course of his first year, Trabuco impressed his higher-ups with his ability to quickly learn and his strong work ethic. By the end of 1970, he was a shift manager. Soon after, he was promoted to branch manager.
At that time, Bradesco was still a small, local bank in the city of Marilia, where it was founded, in 1943, by Amador Aguiar. By the mid-1970s, Trabuco was quickly moving up the chain of command as the bank itself was expanding. By the early 1980s, he had become a regional manager for what was now a major player in the banking industry throughout the state of Sao Paolo.
Then, in 1984, Trabuco was given his first executive role with the firm. He was appointed to head up its marketing division. By this time, Trabuco had put himself through college, he held a master’s degree in social psychology from a prestigious Brazilian university, University of Sao Paolo. As head of the marketing department, he would soon put that degree to good use.
At the time he took over, Bradesco’s marketing efforts had been primitive. Unsystematic and even antagonistic towards the media, the people who had previously run the department had little idea of the powerful techniques of modern advertising and public relations. Trabuco quickly began to change not just the output of the department but the culture.
He began focusing on forging positive relationships with the local media in all markets where Bradesco did business. He was also responsible for creating a sleek new advertising campaign that focused on the customer experience, enhancing the brand’s image in the public mind. All of these efforts proved to be a huge success. Within eight years, Bradesco had won various marketing awards and Trabuco grabbed the attention of his superiors. This was the beginning of his ascent to the top of the Bradesco power structure.
Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, Trabuco once again successfully led various units within the firm to success. Through skillful administration and a unique, clear strategic vision, he was able to grow both the financial planning and insurance division markedly. By 2009, he was the obvious choice to replace outgoing CEO, Mario Cypriano.
Trabuco’s rise to the top is a refreshing reminder that even in a globalized corporatocracy, had work, honesty and talent can still pay off.