Two of Hyatt Regency Saipan’s top directors will soon be passing the baton, with both Josephine Mesta, director of human resources, and Rosalyn Quintanilla, director of rooms, handing over the reins after having been with the company for about 28 years now.
Although both have expressed sadness at leaving the Hyatt Regency Saipan family, they feel their successors are ready to take over and accomplish greater things for the hotel. And it’s not as if they’ll be leaving behind their customer service talents; Mesta plans to even expand her goals to the larger community.
In individual interviews, both have shared their thoughts and feelings about closing this chapter in their life and the love that they’d had with what they were doing at Hyatt throughout the years.
‘Love what you do’
Josephine Mesta believes that you cannot work in an environment productively if you do not love it. You cannot give great service to others if you are not happy with what you are doing. Each day there’s a new challenge to overcome in the human resources department, and this is why she has worked for the company for 28 years.
Mesta actually did not plan on pursuing a career in human resources. “It was an accident; I was working at [Northern Marianas College] running TOPPS and the objective of the degree program is to feed the workforce. So I was actually sending students to Hyatt for employment. Then one day, the director of HR said she is planning to go off island and Hyatt will be needing a new HR director,” she said.
Mesta jumped at this chance. With her educational background and experience in the workforce, she knew she could get a job anywhere but she wanted to try working for an international company “where nobody knows me and will judge me for who I am.” She was interviewed six times by the corporate office before she was given the job. “The job wasn’t easy; I’ve had days where I had to leave late at night or come in as early as 4 in the morning. …But I enjoyed every moment of it.”
Mesta believes, though, that now is the time for the next generation to step up, and this informs her decision to let go of her job at Hyatt. “All good things must come to an end. So I can move on and someone else can enjoy what I have been enjoying these past few years working as the HR director,” Mesta said. Her biggest reward since working for Hyatt are seeing all the people who have climbed the ladder, the people she had mentored and groomed.
Mesta’s plans after retiring include traveling to see her children off-island and to pivot toward training others so that Saipan can be seen as a world-class destination. She wants to do something different now and do it at a bigger scope.
“Right now, I am only limited to training others here, but I want to train the whole island if I possibly can,” she said.
She want to focus on improving customer service training. “In order for us to be the destination we want to be, the people coming in our island need to know that we are kind and we have excellent customer service and that they can be taken care of. Regardless of where you work—government or private sector—it doesn’t matter.” She also plans on helping those with disabilities on island. She wants to change the way they are viewed in the work force.
When asked what the biggest change at Hyatt was when she was the HR director, Mesta said it was changing perceptions. Many people have a set opinion about the local people and of Saipan, she said, and Hyatt has proven that stereotypes are not true at all. Right now, almost all Hyatt employees are local residents. “Changing this hotel from 20% locals to 90% locals is a big change; it was a team effort. We need to take care of our local people before hiring outside. That’s the biggest thing we have done here.”
Mesta stated that the one thing she will miss about her job is the people. “The people that I work with are really my family. I’ll miss them the most. I have had other jobs where I left, but I have never had this bittersweet feeling that I feel now leaving this hotel,” she said.
As Hyatt’s outgoing HR director, Mesta has a standard piece of advice that she gives newly hired employees: “Love what you do, love why you’re doing it and love who you’re doing it with. Love your team. If you love what you do, it is never work,” she said.
If there is one word to describe how she feels about working with Hyatt for 28 years, Mesta said it would be ““Proud.”
“I am proud to have been a part of this company,” she added.
Opportunities to grow
Born and raised on Tinian, Rosalyn Quintanilla has worked her way up at Hyatt Regency Saipan in different roles over time, as an accounting manager, housekeeping manager, and now the director of rooms.
“Hyatt gives us the opportunity to assist in all departments. Whenever there is a big event, we all help out. Hyatt gives us all an opportunity to grow,” Quintanilla said. She handles the fitness center, spa, security department, front office, and housekeeping.
Quintanilla echoed Mesta that Hyatt’s biggest change over the years is that their employees are almost all local resident. Another big accomplishment she mentioned was cross training the employees, meaning she has trained employees to do other duties out of their regular positions so that everyone can help out when it is needed. “We started to train them even before COVID. And now it has helped a lot since we had to let go of our employees due to the pandemic. Our employees can work at any department and we give them the opportunity to develop more experience-wise.”
She has always liked working with people but Quintanilla said that working at the Hyatt was at whole new level. “I love my job so much that when I wake up, I get ready not to go to work, but to come to the place I love.” Quintanilla loves what she does for the company and her employees. “Without my employees I am not going to be where I am. They are the legwork of the whole Rooms Division. It all goes hand in hand. If you take care of your employees, they will take good care of your customers.”
Her biggest reward is seeing all the staff being here for many years. Hyatt Regency Saipan has worked with co-op students and over time they have stayed with the company and continue to excel in their positions. Same with other hires, they have started from entry level and many are managers who love working for Hyatt.
Originally, Quintanilla had planned to retire in 2020. She wanted to visit family and friends who are abroad; that didn’t quite work out due to the pandemic. She still is hoping to travel this year, but will wait around the summer to do so.
“With the pandemic, we struggled due to the amount of people we had to let go. It was a whole new ball game. But with the teamwork my employees had, we were able to push through,” she said. Everyone contributes wherever they can.
Quitanilla has been to quite a few places around the world but when asked what makes Saipan a unique destination, she said, “You can feel the friendliness of our people. Our beaches are amazing and our weather is tropical all year round.”
Her favorite dish to pamper herself with at Hyatt is the steak. “The steak is so good paired with a glass of wine. You can cook steak at home, but it’s different when you eat it here. I know the staff put a lot of love into it,” she said.
A message she would like to relay to her colleagues and valued Hyatt clients: “First, I want to thank my team for being there. Without them our guests would not be coming. They are the reason why our guests travel back. Secondly, I want to thank the guests for repeatedly coming back to our hotel. They are very understanding of when the typhoon hit and now with the pandemic. They continue to come. They make me enjoy coming to work.”