In 2006, in the midst of a global bull market, the last thing Fernanda de Lima wanted was to go back to Wall Street. After earning degrees in math and economics from University of São Paulo and an MBA from New York University, and logging long hours for a decade at Merrill Lynch and JPMorgan, Lima had had enough. She washed her hands of finance and, with her husband as CEO, was building a news site called InfoMoney. The pair was raising three young children at home.
But in August of that year her father, Paulo Cesar de Lima, founder of São Paulo brokerage firm Gradual Investments, had a massive heart attack and suddenly the 38-year-old Lima was called into the family business.
“It was a crazy time. I was thrown onto the trading floor at Bovespa. It was just me and my father’s business partner Agostinho [Renoldi] running things,” she says of the São Paulo-based stock exchange, now known as the BM&F Bovespa. “I remember that I doubled the population of women on the trading floor when I jumped in… because it was just me and the cleaning lady.”