Manuel Sacerdote

  • Interviewed 21 December 2008 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, by Andrea Lluch, Research Fellow, HBS
  • Clip Duration – 1:13

Mr. Sacerdote talks about his extensive business career, from the early 1970s until the financial crisis of 2001/2002. He addresses a range of issues, from the impact of different macroeconomic scenarios in banking practices to the analysis of the most difficult times he faced as the CEO of BankBoston in Argentina.

Interview Excerpt

P: ¿Cuáles creen que han sido los dos o tres puntos que distinguirían a su gestión, su carrera?

R: Bueno, yo creo que mi carrera fue ver la realidad de cada momento y adaptarme muy rápido a esa realidad y cambiar radicalmente. Dirigir el banco de acuerdo a la realidad que me tocaba vivir. Adaptarme sin que me molestara cambiar. Sin nostalgia.

P: ¿En el sentido de estar acostumbrado a manejar con cierto nivel de incertidumbre y de inestabilidad?

R: Claro, pero estaba preparado para la inestabilidad. Yo, por ejemplo, en los setenta y en los ochenta, venía todos los días a la mañana al escritorio y todos los días pensaba que mañana podía cambiar al banco unos 180 grados. O sea que estaba preparado para cambiar 180 grados todos los días. No lo cambiaba, pero estaba preparado.

P: ¿Eso usted cree que fue una clave del éxito?

R: Sí, fundamental. En los setenta y en los ochenta fue fundamental. Así como en los noventa fue fundamental tener claro que había que guiar un crecimiento muy grande y había que prepararse para un enorme crecimiento.

Q: What are two or three features that have characterized your career?

A: Well, I think my career was based on paying close attention to reality at all times and adjusting very quickly to each situation, even changing radically. Managing the Bank according to the reality I had to face. Adjusting without minding the change – without nostalgia.

Q: Do you mean getting used to managing amidst some uncertainty and instability?

A: Of course, but I was ready for instability. For example, in the 1970s and 1980s, I used to come to my office every morning, thinking that tomorrow I could turn the Bank around. I mean, I was prepared to change course by 180 degrees every day. I didn’t do it, but I was always ready.

Q: Do you think that was the key to your success?

A: Yes, I’m sure. In the 1970s and 1980s, it was crucial, just like, in the 1990s, it was crucial to be aware that we had to foster very large growth and we had to prepare for enormous growth.

All the interviews are audio recordings with Spanish and English transcripts. Excerpts from these interviews are included in this web guide. The collection of oral history interviews are part of Baker Library Historical Collections, Harvard Business School. Please contact Baker Library Historical Collections at to receive a full copy of the transcript.

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