Did Luiz Carlos Trabuco Transcend Class, Or Did Class Transcend Him?

A theme in literature as old as time is the hero who, in order to fight the villain, must become him. And this allegory is much more than a mere children’s tale. Every day, the newspapers are filled with stories of police corruption, law breaking and violation of rights. Police, in effect, are acting like the gangsters they’re charged with bringing to justice because they feel they could not otherwise beat them. But such dramatic examples of this theme are just the tip of the iceberg. There are many far subtler examples. In fact, such tensions plague nearly everyone’s life at one time or another.

In the case of Luiz Carlos Trabuco, the CEO of the largest bank in Brazil, Bradesco, the question can be restated to one of whether the CEO had to become precisely the thing that makes it so hard for the vast majority of the lower classes, from where he came, to ever improve their station in life. In rising from vassal to overlord, did Trabuco internalize the values of the ruling class so thoroughly as to make it even more difficult for anyone to repeat his already improbably life course?

From fields to manor

Luiz Carlos Trabuco Cappi was born into a lower working-class family in Marilia, Sao Paulo, in 1951. While he did not live in the extreme poverty of some of Brazil’s most disadvantaged communities, his family was never well-off by Western standards. At the age of 18, with only a high school diploma, he was hired as a bank clerk at a company that, at that time, was just a small, local bank.

He quickly proved himself a capable and determined employee. He began taking classes at night school, eventually earning degrees in business and a master’s degree in social psychology. By the late-70s he was a district manager and by the late-80s he was a junior executive for what was quickly becoming a major player in the national financial markets of Brazil. In 1992, he was given his first major executive role as the head of the firm’s struggling financial planning unit.

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It was here that Trabuco first began assuming the role of the great modernizer of Bradesco. In a controversial move, he filled a number of highly coveted and important positions with outside talent. Many at the time saw this as a move bordering on hypocritical for a man who, himself, had climbed through the ranks of the company, which appointed him to an executive role. However, his choices for filling key slots proved wise. The financial planning division began taking off. By the end of his tenure there, the unit, which had struggled to post any significant revenues when Trabuco took the helm, now accounted for more than 25 percent of the corporation’s total profits. This remarkable turnaround took just eight years and got the attention of Trabuco’s higher ups.

Yet many cite Trabuco’s success as being a direct result of his implementation of specifically class-conscious, globalist policies. Among these was the decision to stop offering all services equally to Bradesco’s customers. In an effort to recruit high-net-worth clients, Trabuco began shuffling around the way in which customer resources were distributed. He created a separate banking line for high-value clients, complete with its own, luxuriously outfitted facilities. At the same time, the bank’s least valuable customers saw some of their services cut. Whatever one wishes to argue about these changes, they proved highly successful. The high-net-worth financial planning business became one of the most lucrative in the corporation.

In the end, whether Trabuco became a force for undermining the future success of people just like him is debatable. But the success he had following those policies is not.

Find more about Luis Carlos Trabuco Cappi: http://istoe.com.br/5442_NOVO+COMANDO/

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