Montenegro takes over the HR reins at the Hyatt Regency


Switzerland-trained Denise Montenegro is the new director of Human Resources at the Hyatt Regency Saipan. (Ericka Santiago)

Switzerland-trained Denise Montenegro, also known as Seet Fah Wong, will be stepping into her new role as director of Human Resources at the Hyatt Regency Saipan.

After 25 years working at Hyatt Regency Saipan in different capacities, Montenegro will be taking over the reins from long-time Hyatt HR director Josephine Mesta, who has retired.

Montenegro started as the room service and café supervisor at Hyatt in June of 1996. In 1997, she was promoted to Food and Beverage outlet manager up to 2003. After starting her family, she transferred to the Finance Department as an accountant from 2003 to 2004. In 2004, she transferred to Human Resources as the learning manager up to the present. One of the many responsibilities she had was conducting the orientation for newly hired employees and training them in their prospective departments. She also assists employees in advancing their skills and knowledge.

Montenegro is a Society of Human Resources Management Certified Professional (SHRM C-P) since 2018, and a Certified Hospitality Trainer (CHT-AHLEI) since 2013. She is currently the treasurer of the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas SHRM chapter. Her promotion as director of Human Resources for Hyatt Regency Saipan took effect last Jan. 6, 2022.

Mesta is not worried about Montenegro stepping into her new role as they have worked alongside for many years, saying Montenegro went through years of preparation for her promotion. Mesta assigned different projects to her to help her familiarize herself with the work and what will be needed for her new position.

“She always told me to do the best of my abilities. It’s a fact of life that we don’t know everything. Based on what you know, do the best that you can,” said Montenegro when asked about the best piece of advice she has gotten from Mesta.

Montenegro was born and raised in Malaysia and received her college diploma in 1992 from Institute Hotelier “Caesar Ritz” in Switzerland. She gained her F&B experience interning at Hotel Zur Krone, Winterthur, Switzerland, and Brasserie Lipp in Zurich, Switzerland. After receiving her diploma, Montenegro returned to Malysia to start her hotel career in 1992 as a waitress at the Taming Sari Grill Room at the Malacca Renaissance Hotel in Malaysia, then joined The Datai Langkawi as an assistant manager.

She says that one of Saipan’s unique features as a destination is the island’s natural beauty. “The scenery is breathtaking. We live here and take the ocean for granted. The natural beauty of the landscape and the unique culture—this is what makes Saipan different from the other places.” She has a whole collection of photos dedicated to Saipan’s sunsets.

Montenegro is married to James and they have two children, Amber, who is 21 years old, and Jett, who is 15.  Her parents and sibling are still living in Malaysia.

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