Former colleagues of late Bed Bath & Beyond CFO Gustavo Arnal, stunned by his death, remember him: ‘The strongest and most resilient person I’ve met’

Though they didn’t work with him at Bed Bath & Beyond these coworkers were from his time as an executive at Procter & Gamble the teammates said Arnal was “larger than life” and enjoyed digging into a big business challenge.

Over the course of more than 20 years, Arnal held several senior positions at P&G, including CFO of its India, Middle East, and Africa business; CFO of Global Fabric and Home Care; and CFO of Global Personal Beauty. While at the company that makes Tide soap and Pampers diapers, he worked out of Brazil and Cincinnati, where it’s headquartered. Earlier in his career, he worked at Avon and Walgreens, where he was CFO of the drugstore giant’s international divisions.

Arnal’s former colleagues at P&G who spoke to Insider expressed shock over his suicide. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they hadn’t arranged permission from the company to speak to the press. Insider has verified their identity and employment.

‘The best boss I ever had’

“Pure shock is what best describes it,” said one of Arnal’s colleagues from his time at Procter & Gamble in Brazil, a former finance senior manager who was part of his leadership team there. “It was hard to believe.”

“Gustavo was always full of energy, and quite frankly the best boss I ever had,” this person added. “He was a person who was fun to be around, even in times of crisis, who knew how to work really hard and focus and also knew how to celebrate.”

Arnal was “larger than life,” added one former plant finance manager who also worked with him at P&G in Brazil. “He was someone who would fill a room and be the joy of any party.”

At the same time, he didn’t shy away from challenges at work, according to his colleagues who spoke to Insider.

“He was a reference for many of us that worked with him, myself included, on how to lead people in tough situations because he was not afraid of having the tough calls, the tough conversations,” the former plant finance manager continued. “He was the strongest and most resilient person I’ve met.”

A former finance supervisor who worked with Arnal at P&G in Brazil remembers him as a “funny and passionate leader.”

“He was an example of following what’s right for the company and for the employees,” she said. “As a woman in finance almost 20 years ago, I felt included in Gustavo’s team, and he had an important role in my development.”

One former colleague from Arnal’s time at P&G in Cincinnati remembers him as devoted to his work and to his team.

“He was definitely driven. He loved to win in business, and he liked to help the business be successful for the employees, for the shareholders,” this person said. “I think people who knew him will just remember him as kind, as upbeat, as positive, as a person dedicated to those around him whether it’s his family, his friends, his colleagues, his shareholders, consumers.”

Arnal’s decision to join Bed Bath & Beyond at a fraught point in its history exemplified his tendency to run toward challenges, his former colleagues said.

“If he wanted an easy layup, he wouldn’t have taken the job,” his former colleague in Cincinnati said of Arnal’s jumping into the challenge of helping to lead Bed Bath & Beyond, which had struggled mightily in recent years.

The former member of Arnal’s leadership team at P&G Brazil echoed this sentiment, saying, “Gustavo was always driven by challenges.”

Turning around years of slumping sales at Bed Bath & Beyond would prove to be just that: Last month, the retailer flagged that it was forced to shutter 150 stores and slash 20% of its corporate roles. In June, former CEO Mark Tritton was forced out after the company logged dismal sales for two consecutive quarters.

And Arnal’s tenure at the company wasn’t without its controversies. Shortly before his death, Arnal was named in an insider-trading lawsuit that claimed that he and activist investor Ryan Cohen had engaged in a “pump and dump” operation accusations that Arnal’s former colleagues say are unfathomable and that Bed Bath & Beyond has said it believes to be “without merit.”

In the days leading up to Arnal’s death, the company’s interim CEO, Sue Gove, and several board members were concerned for his well-being, believing he was overwhelmed at work, The Wall Street Journal reported this week, citing sources familiar with the matter .

Friends of Arnal told the Journal he’d been working up to 18 hours a day, according to the report.

“I could see the stress on him,” Jan Zijderveld, the former CEO of Avon, told The Journal. “He’s the sort of guy who carries the world on his shoulders of him.”

Bed Bath & Beyond declined to comment for this story.

If you or someone you know is experiencing depression or has had thoughts of harming themself or taking their own life, get help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) provides 24/7, free, confidential support for people in distress, as well as best practices for professionals and resources to aid in prevention and crisis situations. Help is also available through the Crisis Text Line just text “HOME” to 741741.

Are you a Bed Bath & Beyond employee with a story to share? Email this reporter at

About the author


Leave a Comment