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Looking AHEAD with Rossana Llenado

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Rossana Llenado shares her story of how sometimes going back to her roots helps her look AHEAD.

From K-12 to the pandemic, President of AHEAD Tutorial and Review Rossana Llenado is no stranger to how change can make or break a business. “When the K-12 hit us, I honestly thought that AHEAD was going to sink,” Rossana intimates. “I was already telling my employees to leave and find greener pastures. But they stayed and we survived. I thought that we could do the same with the pandemic. But, I was wrong.”

A Forced Change

Despite all the changes from migrating AHEAD’s operations and assets to the digital realm and offering solutions to keep the wheels of education going, the pandemic did a lot more damage than she expected. “Although we were able to deliver free college entrance reviews to students, we couldn’t do anything the moment colleges chose not to conduct the entrance exams,” she shares. “For the last two years, we couldn’t keep up with the forced digitization and economic recession. We had to take a step back.”

Besides AHEAD being forced to slim down, the toll of 27 years reared its ugly head with a debilitating diagnosis. “I also got a hypothyroid disease. It gave me high blood pressure and even diabetes. It slowed me down, mentally AND physically. I wanted to turn over my work but couldn’t. I felt so useless.”

Going Back To Her Roots

With AHEAD functioning only on a skeletal workforce, Rossana realized now that she had more time on her hands.  “I had a chance to go to doctors. I was staying at home more with my four kids. Even had time to binge on a few K-Dramas! Being indecisive about what to do with that much time can be so paralyzing. But it was also this time that I realized the need to take care of myself,” she admits. “Though, it wasn’t easy since I love keeping busy. I even joke with some friends that sometimes, I make problems for myself to fix,” she laughs.

She wasn’t the only one who had to go back to her roots. Even her four kids: twins Nicolo and Paolo, and her two younger daughters Darla and Meg had to learn how to be children. “All four of them suffered some form of cabin fever. But as long as they kept safe, I told them to try walking outside for a bit. Video games also helped them cope,” shares Rossana.

With AHEAD on the backburner, she returned to the one thing she was familiar with: learning. “I had been preaching often that learning is a lifelong journey. What was considered good 20 years ago may not be the same now,” she cheerfully states. “So, I took a variety of courses. Some of these courses included how to be a good board independent director of large corporations. I also enrolled in the Professional Directors Program (PDP) of the Institute of Corporate Directors Philippines (ICD). Then, I also enrolled in courses about real estate consultancy to be able to pass the board. Real Estate Consultancy is the highest level of real estate profession, higher than that of being a broker or appraiser. And I’m happy to report that I made it!” 

One Step Back To Jump Five Steps AHEAD

The amount of time that was once paralyzing eventually became the same force that propelled her to join different organizations and focus more on consultancy. “It was a nice change of pace. Finding the time to join different organizations especially Rotary Club as a charter president while doing consultancy work in both real estate and business helped a lot in getting my rhythm back.” 

Fully energized and prepared, Rossana gears herself up to fully resurrect AHEAD Tutorial and Review again. “Education has always been my passion, pride, and joy. It’s an engine of change—both good and bad. But sometimes, to dream and forge AHEAD, we need to accept that things have changed and we need to adapt. It may not be too obvious but learning always has this way of pulling us one step back so that it can launch us five steps forward.”

More stories about parents dealing with change:

Glossier Founder Emily Weiss: On Changes and Stepping Down as CEO

Tina Lagdameo: Being Flexible and Embracing the Changes

Raymond and Mia Lauchengco: Making Room For Change