Trabuco: “The Pursuit of Knowledge Is What Makes a Difference”

President of Bradesco Speaks at EMBA Brazil Graduation

11/06/2014 São Paulo

Luiz Carlos Trabuco

“Only those who have dared to begin get to celebrate at the end.” This was how Luiz Carlos Trabuco, president of Bradesco, one of the biggest financial bodies in Latin America began his talk to the 30 IESE Executive MBA graduates in Brazil, the first class to graduate in that country. It was an emotional talk from someone whose journey has been marked by passion and determination.

“Coming from the sort of school that I attended there were few opportunities to make a career in banking. I come from a humble, working-class family, with all the difficulties that implies, without upward mobility and in a country where the future never arrives,” Trabuco, a sociologist by training, said. It was a mixture of passion and determination that took him to the presidency of the bank. Last year he was voted one of the 50 most influential people in Brazil. Now he has 103,000 people working under him and assets of 908.1 billion reales ($408 billion) and net wealth of 70.9 billion reales ($32 billion). “You need to use your talent with passion, will and determination because without that, talent is worthless.”

Trabuco Recalled how, in his first job as road manager for a band, he learned that when the most talented musicians stopped following the sheet music, the band began to play out of tune. Later, when he worked for a textile firm, he read newspapers at least three days after they were published and only when the managers no longer wanted them. “It was there that I learned the importance of having information and seeking knowledge,” he explained. He said it was the tireless pursuit of knowledge that was going to make the difference for each of the alumni in their daily struggle in both their professional and personal lives. “Modernity demands that we continually seek to improve. We have to be good professionally as well as in our personal lives,” he added.

Faith and hard work

The president of Bradesco also referred to the climate of euphoria in Brazil surrounding the football World Cup. “There’s no doubt that all of the players from all the countries are going to play every match as though it were the last one of their lives. If we give our very best in life we will make a difference. If we’re not giving the best of ourselves now, we will never know if we can make a difference in the coming decades,” Trabuco said.

Speaking to an audience of graduates made up of 25 men and five women from Mexico, Chile, Spain, Portugal and Peru, the guest speaker said that education doesn’t change the world. “Education changes people and it’s people who can change the world.”

He then handed the podium over to Jordi Canals, dean of IESE, who told the 30 alumni they would always be remembered as the first graduates of the IESE and ISE Business School EMBA program in Brazil. He said this was a source of honor and pride for everyone.

Canals warned that mediocrity, superficiality and conformity are very deeply embedded in our society and shouldn’t influence the attitudes of a good businessperson or executive. “The combination of personal and professional excellence with the spirit of service is the best treatment for this illness and helps us in our desire to make our lives into a small work of art for others to enjoy.”

Making a difference

Canals reminded his audience of the South African leader Nelson Mandela, who died last December. “Mandela did many things but it was opting for reconciliation as the basis of living together that was the hallmark of his presidency, teaching us how to exercise power with nobility and humanity and bringing hope to Africa.”

“Today more than ever society needs excellent professionals who don’t only pursue tangible success but who want to make a positive impact on those who share their professional projects with them, in order to serve as the foundations for future generations,” added Canals. He reminded the alumni that IESE and ISE are their home, a place they can always return to and where they will be welcomed with respect and affection. “And we want to count on you, on your ideas and your support so that we don’t become complacent but instead strive to improve every day so that IESE and ISE can continue carrying out their mission of service to people, companies and society.”

Cristiano José Carvalho, president of the EMBA Class of 2014, spoke on behalf of the alumni. He exhorted his colleagues to keep learning, to seek knowledge and to progress. “We are the first EMBA generation in Brazil. We are contributing to the start of the road of success for IESE and ISE in this country, a road that will lead many leaders to knowledge, ethics and dignity.”