Boris Salvador Maldonado is Appalachian State University’s new Enterprise Risk Manager. I bet you’ve never heard of his position before, but he is in charge of some very important tasks. In his own words - “my experience has been that there is the job description, and then there is the true day to day, with the latter usually more complex than the job description may suggest. In summary, I am responsible for overseeing and facilitating the university's risk management program.” Boris is also the supervisor for our AppRIMI internship program and currently works with Omar Gonzalez, this year's intern (read more about AppRIMI here).
Boris graduated from App in 2016 with a double major in finance and banking, and risk management and insurance. The Brantley Center interviewed him once he settled into his new position, so keep reading to learn more about his journey and what brought him back to App!
How did you initially get on the path of risk management?
Boris: I'd certainly be lying to you if I said that going into this field was my plan as a young adult. Like most, I sort of stumbled upon it. It was early on in my junior year as a student at Appalachian that the Brantley Center recruited me. I was on track to major in Finance & Banking at that time, and had maintained a 4.0 GPA up through my first four semesters as a student (this is the same guy that never got straight As before college). By then I had started to get recognized by some folks on campus who knew my situation and got me connected with the Brantley Center. The Center pitched App's highly esteemed and nationally recognized RMI program, internship opportunities, access to industry professionals, shadow days, etc. All that sounded great, but honestly I couldn't get past my own preconceived notions of insurance companies and agents, and unfortunately those notions weren't very positive.The image that came to mind back then was that of an ill-intended guy with a Hawaiian shirt and greasy slicked back hair looking to take your money and run. Sort of like the stereotypical used car or vacuum salesman, who's last concern is the client's best interest. And certainly, you can find those personas in this industry, just as in every other industry. I was on the fence about it, but ultimately The Brantley Center and the RMI program had something else I desperately needed at the time, something I think a lot of college students need, and that was a means to access a lot of potential scholarship money. They offered me $500 just to take and successfully complete Dr. Marlett's Principles of Risk & Insurance course. Ding, ding, ding, now they were speaking my language.
I was a first generation college student from an immigrant family. I had been working nights and weekends in the cafeteria and later as an Resident Assistant with University Housing in order to sustain myself and cover my expenses, both academic and personal. $500 may not sound like a lot to some, but to me that was a lot of money, especially if you compared it to what I was making hourly back then. Besides, how often do you get compensated for taking a course? It's usually the other way around as a student. One thing led to another, I actually took a real interest in the classes, I loved my professors and classmates, and just really enjoyed all of the opportunities that the program afforded. That eventually led me to double major in RMI and Finance & Banking, attending all sorts of conferences, traveling to London with the International Markets class, and getting enough scholarships to cover most of my academic costs for Junior and Senior year when combined with other merit based scholarships I received. I ended up graduating with the Top RMI Student Award. It's kind of wild looking at these things in hindsight, and seeing how things ended up working out. I couldn't have imagined all that from the onset.
Where did you work before this job?
Boris: I was with BB&T, now Truist, for a total of 7 years prior to taking this job. I spent 2 summers with BB&T as an intern during my sophomore and junior years, and then went through their Leadership Development after graduating from App. After I graduated from the LDP, I went on to work as a property and casualty commercial insurance broker targeting small businesses for two years while based out of Raleigh, NC. I was then promoted and relocated to Greenville, SC to serve as a client relationship manager and be part of the leadership team for the company's Flexible Benefits Administration division. There I oversaw and managed the business relationship for 350+ companies that included hospitals, municipalities, universities, and other large employers. I served in that position for a little over 3 years before returning to Appalachian for this opportunity.
Why did you apply to this position? What drew you to return to Boone or App?
Boris: I really wanted to make a change in my career, but I didn't know exactly what direction I wanted to take. My career up until now had been with a single employer, which had its perks but also left me very curious as to the "outside world." I started reaching out to people from my past, specifically folks I respected and felt comfortable looking to for advice, with the hopes of learning about something new I had not considered before. That's when I learned about this opportunity. I felt the ERM role would allow me to use my knowledge about insurance and everything I had learned around the intricacies of working with large institutions. Most importantly, I felt it would allow me to expand into new territories and be presented with challenges that would really require "outside of the box" thinking in order to arrive at solutions. That excited me because I really enjoy looking at things from multiple perspectives.
After discussing it with my family and gaining their full support, I decided to pursue it. I am so thankful that it turned out the way it did, because I couldn't be happier to be back, especially serving the university in this capacity. It's still early on, not having even been here a full week yet, but in that short time I've already been exposed to some really interesting projects and assignments. I'm excited about my new team and the dynamics of this position. The culture here definitely seems to encourage a "how can we accomplish this" attitude rather than a gatekeeper, say no to everything style of risk management. I'm a naturally inquisitive person with a creative side, and I think this role really compliments that aspect of my personality. I also have a vested interest in the success of the university and its students, which gives me a great sense of purpose. This is my alma mater; I love this place so much and everything it means to me. I've made so many beautiful memories here, met some of my best friends till this day here, and really started my personal journey as an adult here in many ways. I'm honored to have this opportunity to play a critical role in ensuring that the current and future generations of mountaineers get the same, if not more, opportunities that I was afforded when I was a student here.
We're thrilled to have you back at App, Boris, and we look forward to working with you!