Accounting for meaning


Luciana Barbosa’s journey towards leading accounting at the IDB

When you meet Luciana Barbosa, immediately you see two things: determination and passion. It is not just the way she describes the work she does, but how she talks about her team. Luciana is the type of leader who cares about her staff while pushing them to go above and beyond with their clients. Accounting at the IDB is not just about the numbers, it is about finding innovative solutions to impact lives in the region.

Luciana is the Accounting Division Chief of the Finance Department of the Inter-American Development Bank. She arrived at the Bank in 2016 to lead the area that is responsible for preparing all financial statements of the Bank’s main funds and other funds under its administration. "It’s all about transparency. We make sure the Bank provides the correct information to our investors and our member countries," says Luciana firmly, but keeping her big smile.

From a "Big 4" to the most prominent Latin American Development Institution

lucianaThe Brazilian leader is tasked with overseeing the external audit process of the Bank. She makes sure that the auditors come to the IDB and provide non-biased, clean opinions to the Bank’s financial statements.

Luciana started her career in Deloitte, a "Big 4” firm. She worked there for 15 years, where she progressed from intern to Senior Manager. In a male-driven industry, Luciana never allowed herself to feel less than others. She understood she was a minority but focused on producing results. That's how she got where she is. "I knew I was good at my job, I just needed to demonstrate it.... and it always worked."

"Working for Deloitte was really great because I started in Brazil and then I moved here to the U.S. for three years as part of their exchange program to work in another office. I landed in Washington, D.C. and had the opportunity to do the audit of the World Bank. It was my first time working with an International Finance Institution."

After that, Luciana transferred to Deloitte in Denmark, "My husband is Danish so after we got married I worked in Denmark for 5 years." After Denmark she and family moved back to Brazil, Luciana moved from Deloitte to EY, where she became an Assurance Partner. "It was a big move for me."
More bold moves were in her future, including her decision to come to the IDB. Luciana was not looking for a job when she was invited to join the Bank. To make this decision, she asked herself "If I want to move in my career… why do I want to do it?” Her answer was clear, it was about purpose. "I want to work for the region, know the other side of the table, and I want work-life balance."

"At the IDB you can actually do {things} yourself and see the end result. When you work as an auditor or consultant, you give comments and advice, and maybe you come back to follow up, but working here you see the project from start to end. You see the impact of your work."

A mother leading in Finance

barbosa"I have small kids, two boys," she proudly says while showing pictures of them dressed in their soccer uniforms. When Luciana is not assuring transparency and improving processes at the IDB, she is probably watching one of her children's soccer games. They go hiking in the mountains, they do rock scrambling. "It is really about spending time with them, doing something outdoors, creating adventures for them. They love it."

She understands the importance of work-life balance, and she is an advocate for it. "At the end of the day, I just want the work done. I try to accommodate what works best for my team. It's ok if they work from 9 to 5:30, or from 8:00 to 4:30; or if they work at the office or from home as long as they get the work done."

"Sometimes things happen, and even if you don't have kids, something can come up that you need to take care of." That is why Luciana encourages her staff to use one of the three modalities the IDB has available: flexible work schedules, teleworking and compressed work week.

A diverse workforce for diverse workdays

Luciana is deeply rooted to her origins. Behind her desk and besides a drawing of one of her two boys, she has a big painting of the main street of Tiradentes, a historic town located just two hours away from her hometown, Belo Horizonte in Brazil.

The Accounting Division has a diverse workforce, with 35 people of more than 13 nationalities from all over the world. She has people from Latin America, from the U.S, from China and Korea. "It is a very diverse team, not only in nationality but in gender and cultures. I think that's one of the beauties of my team."

No one day is like the other in Luciana's division. "On a day to day, we are problem fixers. We need to find innovative ways to solve problems. I can assure you that working in accounting at the IDB, you will not be bored." They utilize the Finance Innovation Room; a space designed to develop new ideas and improve their work.

Luciana is very deliberate in the people that she recruits for her team. She appreciates technical skills, but she also values soft skills. "If you are an accountant with good experience, but more importantly you are really passionate about working in development and want to try to do different and innovative things, then you can thrive here at the IDB."

Once a quarter she has a coffee with each of her staff. "We don't have an agenda. It is just an opportunity to talk and to get to know each other better. Sometimes we talk about work, sometimes we talk about our personal lives. It is a way for me to know a little bit more about my people."

Luciana's engaging and charismatic personality projects in every aspect of her life at the IDB. Her broad experience managing people and providing accounting solutions to a wide range of clients is a game changer.

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