Rafael Paniagua

CEO of Industrial Giant ABB in Brazil


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Rafael Paniagua is an experienced leader as Chief Executive Officer and President in the Power, Automation, and Manufacturing industries. Over a 25-year period, Rafael has built and grown successful companies, business units and lead global operations in multiple continents. Rafael believes strongly in developing people through coaching and mentoring. Main strength: customer-oriented, result-driven, teamwork, people development, change management, and intercultural profile. He is fluent in Spanish, English, and Portuguese

Professional Highlights

  • Rafael began his career as an Industrial Engineer at ABB, Global Leader in Power and Automation technologies with a presence in 100+ countries, after completing an extensive and successful career in ABB of over 25 years, he joined CEO Coaching international as a Partner Coach in 2020.
  • Rafael has developed solid expertise in renewable energies development, energy efficiency, e-mobility, power generation, transmission, distribution, automation, process industries, manufacturing, and robotic businesses.
  • Rafael is passionate about deep technologies and he is a partner and advisor with some Venture Capital Firms in start-ups in areas as digital health, nanotechnology, talent investment, people development.
  • He has experience in M&A through global corporate acquisitions and divestments. Currently, he is an advisor and industry expert for Manufacturing, Energy, and Infrastructure.
  • As a President and CEO of ABB Brazil for 7 years he repositioned the Brazilian and Latin American operations focusing on high growth segments, he led dramatic change in the customer base and achieved strong growth despite a very tough market.
  • Rafael has led several Global Businesses as Group Vice President (2+ BUSD, 5000+ employees, 14 factories, and operating in 30+ countries). He achieved the highest historical profitability of the business (doubling profitability in 3 years) by shifting the organizational culture and building a real global footprint with a strong presence in high-growth emerging markets.
  • YPO Member of the Chapters in Brazil and Spain
  • An active member serving as Vice-president and Member of the Board of Directors of the Manufacturer and Infrastructure Associations and Chambers of Commerce of Europe in Latino America.


  • Master Science Industrial Engineering at Universidad de Sevilla, Spain. The Faculty of Engineering. Industrial, Management & Business Engineering Department.
  • Accounting & Marketing Management. Mechanical Engineering – The University of Sheffield (UK). School of Management (MBA)
  • Member of the Board of Director Program. IESE Business School Universidad de Navarra.
  • Executive Program. YPO Young Presidents Organization. Presidents´ Program HBS – Harvard Business School.
  • Senior Management Program (PADE)- IESE Business School Universidad de Navarra.
  • Senior Leadership Program. IMD – Lausanne – Switzerland.

Personal Highlights

  • Happily married to his wife Curra since 1995.
  • Proud father to a son, Rafael, and a daughter, Maria, as well as a bichon frise named Milú.
  • Served as President of Instituto ABB – Criança – Futuro Esperança (Children’s education in Brazil).
  • Rafael enjoys sailing and walking in nature and one of his passions outside of work is raising Spanish Horses. He tries to enjoying time with the family and friends.