A Perfect Match: My Journey to the C-Suite at Rabobank

"At UC Davis, I learned how to balance people, profit and planet.”

As an MBA student in 2007, at the height of the internship application season, the Graduate School of Management’s Career Development team suggested I apply for an MBA intern position at Rabobank.

Their pitch was unforgettable: “You and Rabobank are a perfect match.”

Initially, I was skeptical. Banking had never been on my radar. However, the GSM Career Development team, like a skilled cupid, saw a connection I hadn't considered.

My background is in agronomical engineering, and my career goal was to become a CFO in the food and agriculture industry. But the Career Development team recognized that Rabobank would appreciate the distinctive blend of my agricultural expertise with my MBA skills, leadership abilities, outgoing personality and involvement in student clubs such as Net Impact and Women in Leadership.

They were right!

The internship at Rabobank, initially just an “arranged date,” blossomed into a job offer and eventually into a serious relationship. But before I delve into that love story; I should mention that moving to the U.S. from Brazil to earn my MBA and studying in a second language was far from being a setback. It bolstered my endurance, especially when juggling academic work with family life, including caring for my two energetic children, aged eight and 12.

My first mentor at Rabobank once remarked, “Your resilience in managing such a challenging experience speaks volumes about your character.”

Spending those four years calling Davis our home, and embracing the Northern California lifestyle were not just delightful for me and my husband (who also enrolled in the UC Davis MBA program), but transformative for my children as well. It undeniably shaped our future.

Finding Success at Rabobank

Now, let’s go back to my love affair with Rabobank. Despite my initial aspirations to gain work experience in the U.S. after completing my MBA in 2008, Rabobank was expanding in Brazil, following the agribusiness boom.

Agriculture was evolving into large-scale family or corporate businesses, making management practices, strategic and financial planning crucial for the sector's healthy growth.

Rabobank’s request was clear: “Come back home and let’s make a difference together.”

With my agribusiness experience, now amplified by my MBA training, I was able to establish an advisory department within Rabobank. Our main goal was to support Rabobank clients while also participating in the bank´s strategic planning to capitalize on all the market’s growth opportunities.

While MBA classes typically don't cover banking specifics, the managerial accounting, corporate finance, and governance courses at UC Davis laid a solid foundation for me to grasp banking essentials and effectively support our clients. The leadership insights from the Organizational Development, and Power and Influence, courses were instrumental in shaping my ability to lead. “Together” became my mantra.

This year marks my fifteenth anniversary with Rabobank. In a significant career progression, I was appointed as CEO of Rabobank Brazil and general manager for South America in March 2022. Quite a ride from advisory services manager to management team member and Rabobank Brazil´s statutory director, first serving as head of rural business for four years, followed by the head of corporate wholesale clients for another four years.

Shaping Rabobank’s Vision of Global Growth

It’s been a journey of constant learning and overcoming challenges with a great team, backed by the strong foundations of my UC Davis education.

Reaching the C-suite isn't the ultimate measure of success. True success is feeling a sense of belonging to something greater, feeling connected, contributing to a remarkable work environment, and inspiring others–just as the Graduate School of Management and my classmates once inspired me, broadening my perspectives while also offering their friendship.

Rabobank, driven by its mission to “grow a better world together,” has seen consistent growth in Brazil.

As general manager for South America, my key mission has been integrating our business lines across countries. Embracing our “together we are more relevant” approach has enabled our South American region to contribute 25% to the bank's international performance, which reflects a powerful teamwork achievement. It's incredibly fulfilling to be part of this journey.  

The skills acquired while earning my UC Davis MBA have been fundamental in integrating and shaping teams, engaging people with purpose, and balancing people, profit and planet.

The GSM's visionary curriculum, diverse and intimate class sizes, and emphasis on teamwork prepared me for the constant changes, complexities, and paradoxes of today's dynamic world—and for addressing the ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) strategic agenda in my role.

The GSM Career Development team truly hit the mark with this match! They understood me, understood my profile, and assured me that I should consider that internship. And considering my long-lasting, serious relationship with Rabobank, it's clear it continues to be a perfect match!