It has recently been announced by Grupo Bradesco, one of the largest financial institutions in Latin America, that the bank’s longtime chairman, Lazaro Brandao, will be stepping aside for good.
In his place, Luiz Carlos Trabuco will soon begin leading the bank’s board of directors, ensuring the continuity of the vision and success that Brandao has worked so hard to create for the firm over his last 27 years of dedicated service.
While Trabuco will be following a tough act, Brandao has repeatedly made clear that he believes there is no one better-suited to the role of chairman anywhere on Earth. Although the departure of Brandao will bring to a close an incredible 75-year career with the bank, making him one of the longest-serving employees of any major corporation in Brazil, Trabuco has formidable experience and an impressive track record of leading divisions to profitability and success.
Trabuco, who is the bank’s currently acting CEO, will be required to select his replacement by March of this year. The shakeup creates a vacuum at the top of the Bradesco executive hierarchy. No one knows precisely who the next CEO will be, although many people close to the process have fingered 56-year-old IT chief Mauricio Minas as the most likely candidate to succeed Trabuco.
Whoever ultimately ends up in the bank’s top day-to-day executive position, they will inherit an organization that has risen from obscurity to the heights of the Brazilian banking industry. The main task going forward will be to ensure that Bradesco is able to maintain and solidify its considerable strategic advantage over the Brazilian banking market. As the largest private bank in the country, the hard battles, carried out over the last five decades as the bank went from small-town thrift institution to major international player, have largely been fought and won. And the two people most prominently responsible for Bradesco’s current hegemonic position are Luiz Carlos Trabuco and Lazaro Brandao.
Job hunting in World War II
As incredible as it may sound, Lazaro Brandao first came to work at Bradesco while WWII was still raging across much of the globe. The year was 1943, the first full year of Bradesco’s operation, and Lazaro Brandao had just turned 16.
Although he hadn’t even formally completed high school, Brandao had a lot of brains and even more ambition. Like many Brazilians of his generation, he was born into relatively poor circumstances and developed a puritanical work ethic from a young age. It didn’t take long for Brandao to begin distinguishing himself at the bank and rising through the corporate ranks.
In 1981, he was appointed to CEO by the bank’s founder, Amador Aguiar. Over the next 36 years, Brandao would hold executive roles with the bank continuously according to valor.com.br. Between 1990 and 1999, he was both the CEO and acting chairman, the only time in the history of the bank that one person has held onto both jobs simultaneously.
It was starting in 1990 that the bank’s fortunes really began to take off. Brandao began following policies of aggressive expansion, causing the bank’s stock price to rise more than 300 times between 1990 and 2009. This rocket-like rise in the company’s stock price resulted in thousands of shareholders becoming wealthy, with many Bradesco employees among them. Such wealth creation for so many has given Brandao a level of respect and admiration uncommon to business executives.
This almost rockstar-like status afforded to Brandao has produced many vocal opponents of his leaving. However, Brandao himself has reminded people that Trabuco is one of the key employees who helped the bank achieve its current success. Without Trabuco, says Brandao, it is unlikely that the bank would even exist in its current form.
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