Rosario Avila of Petaluma's Arrow Benefits Group is a winner of North Bay Business Journal's 2018 Latino Business Leadership Awards.
Professional background: 16 years in health insurance
Education: Sonoma Valley High School
Tell us your story and that of your organization: I was born and raised in Sonoma, California and am the youngest of eight children. When my parents immigrated to Sonoma, with six children, at the time, it was to give their family a better quality of life and to live the American Dream. In 1985 my parents attained their dream of opening their own business, a restaurant called The Ranch House. I had a firsthand look at entrepreneurship and how hard “living the dream” was. This achievement also came with struggles, most of which were language based. My parents relied on my older siblings to help translate everything, from business related transactions to even my parent- teacher conferences. I learned very early on how important culture- based translations were.
In 2002 I started working for a small insurance company and realized I really enjoyed the customer service aspect of the business. We had a few clients that had Spanish speaking employees and were very thankful when I started to explain their benefits to them in their native language. I treated those employees how I wanted my parents to be treated. I had found my niche and always wanted to take it a step further. In 2016 I started working for Arrow Benefits Group. I knew I wanted to work with a company who had a greater vision and a sense of community. Arrow has not only allowed me to expand our communications efforts for our Spanish speaking clients but has encouraged and supported all my initiatives in serving our Latino community.
Is there a major accomplishment in the past year or so that you would like to share?: In October 2017 we launched our Spanish Language Division called Alianza. Unfortunately, the following week were the Sonoma County fires. This tragic event made it even more clear how important it is to have support and information for our Latino community.
What is the achievement you are most proud of?: My daughters are my greatest achievement. My oldest graduated from UC Santa Barbara in June 2017 and my youngest is in her third year at UC Davis.
What is your biggest challenge today? Wanting to do more than I physically can.
As a successful professional, what were the biggest obstacles you faced and how did you overcome them?
Our culture still has a lot of machismo and for some in the Latino community, the concept of insurance is already hard to grasp. As a Latina in insurance, it makes it sometimes difficult to be viewed as a trusted consultant. However, if you know your audience and your product, you know what information and examples will resonate with the client, no matter the gender.
How do you think your profession will change in the next five years?
A lot of people think technology is taking over in our industry, I think technology is a great addition. As consultants we have to do what is best for our clients and sometimes that means getting comfortable with the uncomfortable. We have to stay innovative and educated.
Who was your most important mentor?
My most important mentor was my mother, Rosario Avila. She is the strongest woman I know. She raised eight children and ran a successful business and is the most amazing cook! She made being a working mom look so easy.
Benefits Consultant / Spanish Language Division Lead
Arrow Benefits Group
One Willowbrook Court Suite 230 Petaluma