Few stories are as exemplary of what can be accomplished through determination and drive than that of Luiz Carlos Trabuco Cappi. The current CEO of Grupo Bradesco, one of the largest banks in Brazil, rose from a poverty-stricken upbringing to become one of the most powerful bankers in Latin America. Far from benefiting from nepotism, a privileged upbringing or any of the multifarious usual routes that people usually follow to become rich and powerful, Trabuco Cappi is a 100-percent self-made man. As he steps away from the role of CEO and into that of chairman of the board, it’s worth reflecting on the long and often difficult journey he took to rise to the position in which he currently stands.
From bottom floor to C-suite
Trabuco Cappi first came to work at Bradesco in 1969, at the age of just 18. He had recently graduated from high school, where he received solid grades. But Trabuco Cappi did not have enough money to attend college. Even though he had been an academically strong student, at that time, Brazil lacked a good scholarship program for gifted students. He resolved to pay his own way through college.
Trabuco Cappi applied at the first place he saw that needed help. It turned out that this was a local office of Bradesco, at that time a small, local thrift institution with just a few branches. He was granted an interview and was surprised when he was called back the same day to be informed that he could start immediately.
Over his first year of employment, Trabuco Cappi proved to be a highly dedicated and skillful employee. He was a quick learner, mastering the tasks of various jobs to which he was assigned. Within his first year, he was already appointed to be a shift manager at the bank where he worked. By the end of his first year, he was moved up to branch manager.
Throughout the 1970s, Trabuco Cappi was able to put himself through college. He attended night classes at one of the most prestigious universities in the country. After six years of attending classes, even as he sometimes worked up to 60 hours per week, he was able to get a bachelor’s degree in business administration as well as a master’s degree in social psychology.
By this time, Trabuco Cappi was quickly becoming one of the most qualified non-executive employees at the bank. It was becoming apparent that he was one of the better candidates to start being moved into executive roles. His first such role came in 1984, when he was appointed to head up the bank’s public relations and marketing department.
There, Trabuco Cappi began making sweeping changes to the way in which the bank approached marketing and public relations. He was able to forge strong relationships with local media figures. By the end of the 1980s, Bradesco had one of the most recognized and widely admired brands in the state of Sao Paulo.
In 1992, Trabuco Cappi was again promoted. This time, he was tapped to head the bank’s flagging financial planning division. He immediately began making more fundamental changes. He recognized the huge potential that existed in the high-net-worth-client market, creating a tiered system of banking where the best clients were rewarded with lavish service, luxurious facilities and even comps, such as first-class airfare and stays at five-star resorts.
This strategy of directly courting the highest-value clients paid off in spades. Within a few years, the amount of deposits the bank held increased by billions of dollars according to valor.com.br. This was a major factor in Bradesco’s expansion throughout the 90s, almost solely attributed to the vision and hard work of Trabuco Cappi.