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How Teri Cuyco Rombaoa of Pru Life UK faced adversity with perseverance

By Franz Lewin Embudo Published Apr 26, 2023 6:00 pm

Sometimes the road to success is paved with unexpected challenges and setbacks. For financial expert Teri Cuyco Rombaoa, one of the top agency leaders at Pru Life UK, losing her job in 2001 was just the beginning of a series of difficult events. But instead of giving up, she persevered and faced these challenges head-on.

Rombaoa, a district manager and recipient of multiple local and international life insurance industry awards, said her journey to success started from humble beginnings. Raised in a family of eight siblings who relied on farming as their source of livelihood, her parents instilled in her the value of education.

“I was raised in a poor family but my parents made sure we finish a four-year course even if they have to make loans and sign promissory notes. Witnessing this, I made a promise to myself that when I finish college and become successful, I will help out-of-school children and provide them with the opportunity to study,” Rombaoa said in an exclusive interview with The Philippine STAR.

At present, Rombaoa is a major contributor to World Vision, an international non-profit organization that is dedicated to improving the well-being of children, their families, and communities worldwide. She currently supports 16 scholars.

Beating the odds

Despite the financial struggles during the early stages of her life, the 60-year-old agency leader from Pampanga shared that her hard work paid off as she was able to finish college with the help of her brother who landed a good job after college.

From 1996 to 2004, she worked in the information technology (IT) industry, selling a mix of hardware, software, and back-office solutions specifically for the retail industry. However, in 2001, the IT sector experienced a significant downturn that left many people out of work, including Rombaoa. Just two months after, her husband also lost his job.

“At that time, we had just moved into a new house which we are amortizing for P20,000 a month because I wanted a shorter payment period,” she recalled.

Rombaoa shared that there came a point in her life when she considered transferring her daughters to a public school. She even had to discontinue their school bus service. Her children had to make do with just biscuits and water as baon.

With bills piling up and a monthly mortgage payment to sustain, Rombaoa got financially distressed. Feeling helpless and having nowhere else to run to, she found herself praying in tears in the adoration chapel of their parish. “As I was looking at the Holy Sacrament, I talked to God and said, ‘Bumaba ka diyan, hindi ko na kaya!’”

Upon waking up the next day, she received good news and things began to turn around. Within two weeks, blessings after blessings came, and she was able to fully pay for their housing loan in the succeeding years.

“I had been too arrogant to think I could manage everything alone when only God can provide for my needs,” she recalled.

Becoming a driving force in Pru Life UK

According to Rombaoa, joining the life insurance industry was just an accident in 2004. Little did she know that stumbling upon this chance would lead her to a fulfilling career, albeit in a different field.

“It was my friend, not I, who was being invited [to be a life insurance agent],” she recalled. “Even before joining the company, I was already a believer in life insurance and even had my own Pru Life UK policy. So when I heard about my friend being recruited, I eagerly volunteered to join and attend the next training session.”

The rest is history.

With the current manpower of more than 3,500 agents and over 100 agency leaders plus eight general agencies, Rombaoa believes that there is still room to grow and improve.

“I believe that focusing on leader development will accelerate our recruitment and therefore make us grow in numbers. Sales will definitely follow.”

Pru Life UK’s icons—such as agency leaders Henry Gocuan, Tessie Koa, Kaye Yap, and Henson Tan—have always been her idols as she aspired to achieve the same level of success as they did. “They paved the way for most agents and agency leaders like me to become successful.”

Having an entrepreneurial mindset

When asked about how she manages to meet her goals, Rombaoa highlighted the importance of having an entrepreneurial mindset in managing a business. For her, being in the insurance industry is more of a business than a career.

She also believes that staffing should be given top priority, “Leveling up to become an agency leader should not be taken as a promotion but as a business expansion. Investing in people and systems to support our structure plays a crucial role, so we can focus on more strategy.”

“’Pag ikaw lahat gagawa ng mga task, stressed out ka. Dapat hindi ka lang mayaman, dapat maganda ka rin, ‘di ba?” she quipped.

A rewarding journey

When asked for advice for newcomers in the industry, she emphasized the importance of staying focused on their goals and trusting in the product, the system, and the company. "The good thing about this business is there is no secret! Everything is laid down. May blueprint na and susundan mo na lang.”

She admitted that being in the life insurance industry was not an easy journey, but it is very rewarding. “I have my own stories of challenges and difficulties of different forms, too. But whenever I encounter difficulties, I always go back to the reason why I chose this path.”

While the reason was income at first, it eventually became the fulfilling mission of helping people secure their future.

“You create an impact [in other people’s lives]. There is a sense of purpose and fulfillment, not just achievement,” she emphasized. “Can there be anything more fulfilling than being able to secure the future of our fellow Filipinos for whatever circumstance that they may encounter?"

At the end of the day, as one of the prime movers in Pru Life UK’s agency force, Rombaoa says her goal is to see her team members succeed in securing more Filipinos, who, in turn, can succeed in their financial goals.

“I want them to experience what I have now. Ito ‘yung achievements ko, more than the awards and recognitions. Mas meaningful sa akin [to share my success] because when I see people happy, I am happier.”

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Editor’s Note: BrandedUp is designed to provide you with insightful, inspiring, and educational content created by PhilSTAR L!fe in collaboration with brands like Pru Life UK.