Theam Romny on the challenges of getting a Fulbright and becoming a branch manager

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Theam Romny on the challenges of getting a Fulbright and becoming a branch manager

‘You need to be clear about your life’s direction,” is the advice proffered by Theam Romny, now a branch manager at ABA Bank.

Before she became successful in the banking sector, 31-year-old Romny received a highly prized Fulbright scholarship to study for a master’s degree in finance at the University of Akron, in the US state of Ohio.

“It starts from studying hard at school and obtaining a good transcript [of results]. The second thing is being involved in volunteer work for society and work experience plus [knowing] a foreign language,” she said.

Back in 2003, Romny completed two bachelor degrees, one from the National University of Management in accounting and a bachelor of arts from the Royal University of Phnom Penh’s Institute of Foreign Languages.

After finishing university, she got a job as an English professor at the Institute of Foreign languages, where she worked for about two years. In 2004, Romny applied for the Fulbright and soon found herself setting off to America the next year.

Her success came only after unsuccessfully applying for a Fulbright in 2003. Not to be deterred, Romney applied again the following year.

“I passed [in 2003] and prepared for the interview. Unfortunately I got a call and they told me that I could not go to do the interview. I was really disappointed but I decided to apply again the next year,” Romney said.

The fourth generation of an educated family from Pursat province, Romney moved to Phnom Penh to attend university after she finished high school.

“When I first moved to the city, I stayed with my relatives. Two or three weeks later, my brother and I moved out to live in a rental house,” she said.

“It was difficult for me during that time. I didn’t know anyone besides my family, and my parents didn’t move with me,” she said.

Later, when Romny returned from the United States, she began working for the Danish embassy as a local consultant working on governance issues, a job she continued for about three years before moving to ABA Bank in 2010.

Romney emphasised how important it was to be clear about what you want to study in the first year of university rather than making up your mind when you began applying for scholarships abroad.

“When you know what you want to study, learn it. Moreover, just studying isn’t enough, you need to put into practice in order to get experience.”

An outstanding student who was the third-highest ranking student in mathematics back when she lived in Pursat, Romny made an informed decision on her choice of career.

“I already knew that finance was a job that was rarely applied in the public sector but related more to private companies. But a country can develop by combining the public and private sectors,” she said.

For the future, Romny has already laid out plans.

“For the short term plan, I will look for opportunities in the finance industry. If there’s an opportunity, I will catch it. In the longer term, after I have got enough experience in knowledge and finance, I want to own a business,” she said.

“Studying hard is the good way of life. And you need to set the direction for your life ahead. Choosing skills is the process of preparing for your way of life. You need to follow your dream. The decision is made by you.”


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