Marcos Piccardo: athlete, adventurer and CEO


A Life Full of Adventures and Lessons with Marcos Piccardo

Today at N5 CIZ, Julian Colombo talks with Marcos Piccardo, former CEO of dLocal, one of the most important Fintech companies in Latin America. Established in 2016 and with offices in 6 countries, the Uruguayan unicorn startup provides cross-border payments connecting global providers with emerging markets around the world

Join us for an encounter full of anecdotes as we explore the life of Marcos Piccardo. From his beginnings as a professional polo player as a teenager, to his arrival at a hedge fund, through the lessons he would take at dLocal.

Below you will see the key points of the interview, from a life-changing lesson in Santander to his adventures in La Pampa. Even so, we recommend you watch the full video so you don’t miss a talk full of valuable experiences and fascinating adventures.

From Athlete to CEO

Since the young Marcos Piccardo was a man of action. At only 16 years old, he traveled throughout Latin America as a professional polo player. That, in fact, was his dream back then. However, as he himself recounts, there came a point where he ran “out of fuel” and had to find a stable job.

His first experience in the financial world was as a cashier in Santander. After a while, he saw the opportunity to move for a position in the company’s stock market and decided to send himself. He had no experience but he learned as he went and did well. So much so that later in his career he would end up working for a hedge fund, and in 2017 he would end up becoming the CEO of dLocal.

When the Best Course of Action is to Wait

If we talk about a hedge fund, you are most likely thinking of a luxurious eighth-floor office – full of people busy filing papers and taking calls. Marcos Piccardo expected something similar. Instead he found himself sharing offices with just two other people. However, that became one of his most valuable experiences in life.

Her boss was a laid-back guy who could both stay working late and arrive at the office at noon in shorts and a T-shirt. Sometimes he took a nap. Sometimes she let him go early. Marcos couldn’t believe he was the same man with whom he managed hedge funds with high leverage. One day she decided to confront him.

I scratch my head and you sail, Marcos says he was thinking. To which his boss responded with a lesson that he would not forget. ** We make decisions and we hope they are the right ones **, his boss told him. Everything takes a process, a time. And that time is what you have to learn to manage.

That day Marcos learned that time to disconnect is as valuable as work itself. Even the most successful in the business need time to process and clear their minds. If not, there is the risk of falling into iatrogenesis – trying to fix something and end up getting worse. As Julian points out, sometimes the best course of action is to wait.

Encourage Making Mistakes

When you are so young and in a position of authority, it is normal to make mistakes. Marcos only made two “big” mistakes in his career, but these were so important that he never forgot them.

The first was out of sheer nervousness. He was working in trading at the time when he called a Citibank fund and they passed him a bunch of orders to collect. An oversight led Marcos to duplicate all the orders. An expensive mistake that ended with his boss giving him an ultimatum: ** It’s the first and the last **. In other words, there was no room for another mistake like that. And there was not.

The second big mistake occurred while working in Santander. Marcos had been interviewed by a major newspaper to ask him about the Argentine stock market. The outlook was not entirely favorable, and he let her know. What he did not expect was that the next day the director of the stock market would call to ask to be fired.

Enrique Cristofani, Santander bank number one, would end up calling him at his office to reprimand him as he had never been reprimanded in his life. ** It still scares me **, says Marcos, remembering his angry face. After that episode, he would be more careful when talking to the press.

Despite this, Marcos encourages being encouraged to fail.

It’s fantastic, he says with a smile. Just as you dare to fail, you can succeed. It’s one thing or another. The important thing about making mistakes is that afterwards you know how not to make them again.

Some Adventures in Canoe

At the end of the interview, Marcos remembers his first experiences canoeing. Or rather, trying to canoe.

The first time he had been sent without having experience. He had bought a canoe and gone on a truck trip with his girlfriend and friend. In the middle of the road, however, strong winds began to shake the canoes. They had to stop in a town to buy rope and ended up “mummifying” the canoes, as Marcos describes it.

A small setback, but the adventure continued. At least until the next inconvenience. Halfway there they were immersed in a forest fire. To get out they had to follow a fire truck because nothing was visible.

After that odyssey, when they finally reached the river in Piedra Buena, the current was very strong and they had to turn back because his girlfriend didn’t want to jump.

Some time later, the opportunity was presented again and it was an unforgettable experience. Marcos even ended up ordering a canoe in the shape of Formula 1 to be assembled.


Sometimes adventurous people come to N5, without fear of the unknown. Marcos Piccardo is one of them. These are the main things to remember from this note:

  • There is no fixed path. Marcos started as a polo player and ended up as CEO of one of the most important Fintech companies. Titles are fine but determination is everything.
  • Being constantly on the lookout for something that takes time can backfire. Sometimes the best course of action is to be patient.
  • The faster you make mistakes, the faster you learn from them.
  • A Formula 1 canoe doesn’t hurt anyone.

Publisher: Marcelo Frette

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