Serpa studied visual and graphic arts in Germany and then worked at agencies GGK and R.G. Wiesmeir. In 1991 he returned to Brazil, the country of his birth. Here he worked at DPZ and DM9DDB, where he met his current agency partner, José Luiz Madeira, a senior account manager and strategic planner. In 1993, the pair left the agency to head up AlmapBBDO. They have been partners and co-presidents of the Board ever since, along with four more partners who have joined the ranks.
Havaianas was Serpa's first account at AlmapBBDO, and for 17 years he has been the mastermind of its award-winning advertising in Brazil as well as internationally. Throughout his career, Serpa has been noted as Brazil's most honoured art director, having won gold, silver and bronze medals in the principal Brazilian and international advertising festivals. At the Cannes Festival he won Latin America's first Grand Prix in 1993 and has since raked in 149 Lions.
Serpa is the most awarded creative in the history of the São Paulo Creative Club Year Book. In 2008, he was the first non-Anglo-Saxon to receive the 2008 Lifetime Achievement Award at the Clios for his contribution to worldwide advertising.
AlmapBBDO has had three nominations for Agency of the Year at Cannes and was the first-ever double winner of Agency of the Year in the Gunn Report.