Speaker Spotlight

Estella V. Maldonado

Estella V. Maldonado relocated to northern California in the spring of 2018 to join Delta Dental’s technology team to evolve its disaster recovery into the next level.

“I was excited to bring 20-plus years of expertise and my vision of a comprehensive process to recover technology systems by educating the technology teams about the recovery life cycle,” she said.

Delta Dental is the largest dental data plan system in the U.S., comprised of 39 independent Delta Dental member companies operating in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. The company is headquartered in San Francisco and is comprised of 4,000 employees.

The company’s primary mission is to provide exceptional dental care for its customers. In order to do so, it has adopted four foundational core values which are trust, service, excellence, and innovation.

Maldonado is cyber security engineer and disaster recovery program manager for Delta.

She said, “I am as creative as I am analytical in my nature.”

In everything she works on, she seeks to deepen her understanding with the goal to improve the process or product. In her experience, she has learned that sometimes the best solution to a problem is the creative one.

“Personally, thinking outside the box is a comfortable approach for me at work and in life in general,” she said.

In addition, Maldonado is often told she is a positive person and that makes working with her enjoyable.

Maldonado’s initiation into the BC/DR industry originated in 1997 when she worked for Deutsche Bank. The BCM director took Maldonado under her tutelage and mentored her on the BCM program fundamentals. The program was based on requirements set by SEC NASD Rules 3510, 3520, NYSE Rule 446, and FINRA Rule 4370. Through the years, the Deutsche Bank BCM program has received prestigious awards such as the “Award of Excellence” by DRI International and the “Most Effective Recovery of the Year” by BCI.

Maldonado has spent her entire career in technology and has performed many different roles in this area. She has worked for large corporations and spanned across different industries but has always remained in technology.

“For me, BC/DR came as a project and kept coming even as I moved employers,” she said. “I discovered my natural affinity in this area of technology and recognize that my advantage is that I can combine skills and expertise obtained through the multiple technology roles I have previously held.”
She understands how technology works and that allows her to plan for the recovery of data centers intelligently and strategically. She also enjoys the work because it allows her to be creative, lead and direct, manage projects, and solve issues all while keeping her finger on the pulse of technology.

It was not a person who awoke Maldonado’s interest and passion for technology disaster recovery. Instead, it was the drastically sad event that took place on Sept. 11, 2001.

“My sadness propelled me to take my work seriously because one day a real disaster may happen, and we need to be prepared to deal with it and keep going,” she said.

On a personal level, she loves the engaging process in planning and preparing for a DR exercise.

“I love learning about the technologies my company has in place to perform business,” she said. “Equally rewarding for me is building relationships with the different technology teams and SMEs.”

She added that having a successful recovery from a simulated outage is great, but what excites her the most is learning the unknown, which is priceless.

Maldonado will co-present “Disaster Recovery in the Times of COVID-19” with David Carter, manager of Cyber Risk Assurance, at DRJ Spring 2021 during Breakout Track 6 on March 31 from 4:15-5 p.m.

According to Maldonado, as many were battling COVID-19 across the nation, Delta Dental’s annual planning of its enterprise data center failover was in full swing. But this complex project was abruptly interrupted by news from the World Health Organization about the COVID-19 pandemic.

Following federal and state government mandates, Delta Dental business functions came to a complete halt as the entire workforce was required to shelter-at-home. Staff worked days and nights to create remote connectivity for the entire workforce.

The big question was if Delta should cancel their disaster recovery exercise. Once it was decided to proceed, they moved to readjust their DRE planning, including assessing new risks introduced into the picture because of the pandemic. Communication, connectivity, and coordination because the pillars of this effort. In the end, there was consensus that Delta’s DRE 2020 was better than most years.

During this presentation, Maldonado and Carter will share lessons learned with attendees.

Maldonado said the importance of community support and networking that happen at DRJ conferences is amazing.

“Everywhere you find productive conversations and collaboration breakout out throughout the event,” she said.

Maldonado has more than 30 years of experience with organizations ranging from Fortune 500 companies to mid- and small-size industries such as financial, governmental, and legal. Her specialty in the technology spectrum is that she understands how business’s needs, requirements, and risks can be creatively addressed through technological solutions.

One of Maldonado’s strengths is how she is able to understand the different technology components make an application system function, and this understanding allows her to methodically and strategically manage any technical project, inclusive of legacy systems or next generation technologies. Her structured approach to effectively manage projects and resources has earned her the trust and respect of superiors and colleagues.

Presently, Maldonado is working on Cloud-relevant certifications, in addition to her recently obtained CDPSE. In the past she held board of director positions for the non-profit organizations SHPE and ACP.

She is the proud and grateful mother to two young men. Together, they enjoy hiking and beach bonfires. Her happy places include a beach on a sunny day or in the studio dancing Tango.

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