It is rare that an employee who starts out at the lowest position in a major corporation goes on to completely transform the entire business of his firm. But every once in a while, someone truly unique comes along and changes the way that massive corporations do business.
Luiz Carlos Trabuco Cappi is just one such story. The current CEO of Bradesco, one of the largest banks in Brazil, started out his career with the firm when he was just 18 years old. Over the next 48 years, he would rise slowly but steadily through the ranks, moving up the old fashioned way, through hard work and talent.
But Trabuco Cappi was more than just an ambitious employee with a strong work ethic. Over his career, he slowly began exerting ever more influence over the entire corporation itself, making profound changes to the way in which the bank approaches its business. More than just a CEO, Trabuco Cappi has risen to become something like the soul of the firm he leads. In fact, it can be argued that Bradesco never would have made it out of the starting blocks had Trabuco Cappi not been part of it.
The founders aren’t always the most important people in a company
When Luiz Carlos Trabuco Cappi graduated from high school and went looking for his first job in the summer of 1969, he had no preconceptions about what it was he wanted to do or even what type of work he would prefer. He saw a help wanted sign at a local bank and applied for a job as a teller. He was quickly hired. The bank’s name was Bradesco, at that time, a small local bank in the town of Marilia that had just a couple branches.
Throughout his first year, Trabuco Cappi proved himself to his superiors as a hard worker and quick learner. By his fifth year with the firm, he was managing his own branch. Within a decade, he was a regional manager for the now quickly expanding bank.
Throughout the decade of the 70s, Trabuco Cappi not only gained extensive experience in all aspects of the banks business but was also able to put himself through college. He eventually got an undergraduate degree in business administration and a master’s degree in social psychology. By this time, he had proven himself as a capable manager and was being looked at by the firm’s top brass for a number of executive roles. In 1984, he got one.
Appointed to the helm of the firm’s director of marketing department, Trabuco Cappi found himself in his first real position of influence within the company. He immediately began making deep changes to the way in which the company marketed itself and interacted with both the media and the public. Forging strong ties with local media personalities and engaging in charity work, volunteering and other high-visibility acts of community service, Trabuco Cappi quickly overhauled and greatly improved the bank’s public image. Under his watch, the marketing department successfully began driving sales far higher than they had ever been.
In 1992, Trabuco Cappi was again promoted, this time, to the head of the financial planning division. It was here that he began making serious changes to the way in which the bank operated. Prior to his tenure, the bank had held the philosophy that all customers should be treated equally, no matter what their value to the bank. Trabuco Cappi scrapped that idea. Luiz Carlos Trabuco Cappi created Bradesco Prime, a high-end banking service for wealthy individuals that features separate, luxurious facilities, 24/7 personal bankers and luxury comps like airline tickets and hotel rooms.
The strategy worked. Bradesco quickly became the Brazilian leader in high-net-worth personal banking, bringing in tens of million of dollars in new business. By the time Trabuco Cappi was again promoted, the financial planning division had grown to almost 30 percent of the firm’s total revenues.