Roel Yambao ’02 ’04
When 4-year-old Roel Yambao stepped off a plane in Indiana in the middle of winter, he looked at the white stuff on the ground, so unlike the sand in his native Philippines. When he asked his mother about it, she told him it was halo-halo, a sweet, icy confection that Roel had enjoyed in the Philippines. Some 30 years later, Roel still likes halo-halo, but he’s had enough of cold weather to last him a lifetime. Read how this Knight likes to spend his days.
By Camille Murawski ’98
Roel Yambao ’02 ’04, chief operating officer of Florida Hospital Foundation in Orlando, is doing all the right things to achieve success at his job.
Yambao hails from the Fort Lauderdale area, and had his choice of big Florida schools when the time came to start college. He absolutely fell in love with the opportunities at UCF and the campus, he said.
But as a student, Yambao recalled, there were opportunities he missed that might have advanced his career a little quicker. Yambao worked in the service industry to help put himself through school, he said, and as a result, missed out on networking and internships.
Yambao made up for lost time when he landed his first job post-graduation with Florida Hospital. He reached out to other departments and went far beyond his job description to get things done. Although he was hired as an entry level associate, he quickly rose through the ranks until his current position, where he has been since 2012.
Yambao credits his wife, Sabrina ’04, for encouraging him to seek a career in his major. Although he was initially set on a clinical path, his passion for the business side of health care was ignited through a course he took that was required of all allied health students. The course introduced him to a variety of aspects of health care through guest speakers. When a hospital executive lectured about health care administration, Yambao was hooked.
Here, he thought, was a career that blended beautifully his aptitude for business and technology with his passion for health care. In his current role, Yambao is part of the leadership team of one of the area’s largest philanthropic organizations, which recently completed a $150 million capital campaign at the end of 2016. As part of the campaign, he helped turn a struggling fundraising initiative into one of Florida Hospital Foundation’s most successful social media promotions. The simple idea – which resulted in nearly $6 million for the organization – helped Florida Hospital for Children achieve its fundraising goal in 5 years instead of ten.
Still, using skills he gained through his time at UCF, Yambao enjoys partnering with organizations throughout Central Florida to benefit the community. His civic work includes sitting on the Board of Directors for Runway to Hope, a local nonprofit that supports pediatric cancer patients. He also serves on the board of the Avalon Park YMCA, the Investor Relations Committee of the Orlando Economic Partnership, and the Healthy Living Committee of the Central Florida YMCA.
Yambao learned his work ethic from his immigrant parents, but his charismatic personality – or “WOO” – is all his own. Woo stands for “winning others over,” according to a business strengths-finder profile, and is one of Yambao’s top personality traits.
“I like that personal connection,” Yambao said. “If you grow your circle, it bolsters your confidence and ability to work with partners for the good of the community.”
Getting to Know: Roel Yambao
What do you do?
I am the chief operating officer for the Florida Hospital Foundation. The Foundation exists to support the mission of the hospital by connecting the passion and generosity of community members and philanthropists, with opportunities to improve the lives of others.
Why do you do what you do?
My role at the hospital is much more than a job. It fulfills a characteristic instilled in me by my parents at a very young age, which is a desire to help others. I may not be performing surgery or caring for patients by the bedside. However, I know that at the end of the day, the important work that we do at the Foundation helps to renew the health of an individual, a family, and even the community.
What do you like most about your job?
My job allows me to interact directly with the community that we serve. I get the rewarding opportunity to see exactly how our fundraising efforts, the work done at the hospital, strategies we develop, and processes we install impact lives.
What is your most memorable experience on the job?
There are almost too many to count. I have the privilege to hear from grateful patients who share their lifesaving experiences. I get to see physicians and clinical staff interact with these grateful patients with a renewed sense of why they practice medicine. I get to see communities from diverse populations rally around causes bigger than themselves, committing to improve the lives of others. I get to see smiles fixed, lives mended, and health restored.
One of the more memorable moments happened during the Pulse tragedy. I felt more part of the care team than ever before during that incident. As our clinical staff and physicians cared for the physical wounds left by the shooting, our team was able to care for the emotional and spiritual needs of the victims and their families. We connected with amazing members of the community to offer victims simple gestures that you and I would regularly take for granted. Something as simple as providing a meal, or offering a cell phone so that families could be connected went a long way for those patients. We even found resources to fly family members to Orlando to reunite with their loved ones, and sadly even helped to make funeral arrangements for those who were lost. It was an overwhelming, but beautiful sense of community that only a tragedy like that could produce.
What do you do for fun?
My time away from work is devoted to my family. My beautiful wife, Sabrina, and my two daughters are my world. We are a very active family, usually running from one sporting event to the next. If it isn’t soccer practice or a game, we’re probably competing in a triathlon, running, or cycling.
What makes you laugh out loud?
Without a doubt, my daughters, who are 9 and 5. Watching them explore the world and learning new things certainly keeps my wife and me entertained.
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
One day, I’d like to try my hand at teaching. I love imparting knowledge to others, whether it’s coaching my daughter’s soccer team or mentoring my employees. I feel teaching is a profession that provides fulfillment and is as rewarding as the work done in health care.
What is the last thing you Googled?
Probably some DIY video to fix something that my wife put on my “honey-do” list.
What has been your favorite city or country to visit?
Definitely my hometown in the Philippines. My family immigrated to the United States when I was 4. It is always humbling to go back to visit. It reminds me how fortunate I am to raise a family in a country where the only limits are your ability to dream and your motivation to work hard.
If someone wrote a book about you, what would the title be?
The Architect (I love building processes, programs, relationships, and strategies. I also like building and doing things with my hands, so I think the title suits me all around).
What has been the best meal of your life so far?
Nothing beats a flame-grilled, thick-cut New York Strip
What songs would make up the soundtrack of your life?
- Andy Grammer – Keep Your Head Up
- Eminem – Lose Yourself
- Jason Gray – Good to Be Alive
What is the happiest and/or proudest moment of your life?
My wedding day and the birth of my two daughters
What is your favorite quote?
“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” ~ Gandhi
If you were on an island and you could only bring 3 things, what would you bring?
Sabrina, Valerie and Natalie
What superhero would you be and why?
Tony Stark, because he uses his education and mind to build things that help other people.
What is the last book you read?
Inferno by Dan Brown
Why did you choose to attend UCF?
UCF truly stands for opportunity. I saw so much potential at UCF when my parents and I toured the school. I fell in love with the campus and its layout, though the campus back in 1998 does not even hold a candle to what it is today. Not gonna lie, I’m jealous of the current students who have such an amazing campus on which to live and learn. I chose UCF over UF and FSU because I felt I could have a fresh start and clean slate. Almost all of my friends from high school were headed to one of the other state universities, so this gave me an opportunity to meet new people. I don’t regret that decision one bit. I met the love of my life at UCF, and built other great relationships along the way.
How has your UCF degree helped in your career?
The education I received in both my undergrad and graduate programs did well to prepare me for such a rewarding career. I distinctly remember several courses that have quite literally guided me to the work that I’m doing today. My experience at UCF taught me to work with others towards a common goal, a skill I use every day. I also learned the value of developing relationships, networking and building lifelong connections. The lessons I experienced throughout my course work also helped build the foundations of leadership.
What extracurricular activities were you involved in at UCF?
I was a member of the Filipino Student Association, played several intramural sports, and was part of the dive club for a brief time.
What is your favorite UCF memory?
Some of the best moments were spent just hanging out in the Student Union in between classes. Football games were fun, but a bit of a bear to get to since we still played in the Citrus Bowl back then.
What’s the most important piece of advice you would give to your fellow Knights?
Time flies when you’re having fun, so take it all in. Enjoy every moment you have at UCF, because those are memories that will stick with you for a lifetime. CHARGE ON!!