Diana Montenegro (BBA ’86) attributes her success to her parents and her upbringing. Her parents, college-educated Cuban immigrants who didn’t speak any English, obtained domestic jobs upon their arrival in the U.S. and worked hard to obtain a better quality of life. They were great role models, she said, full of ambition and drive to succeed who instilled those characteristics in her.
She said her parents encouraged her and were very supportive of her education. She majored in finance and international business in the College of Business Administration at the university.
“FIU was an eye-opening experience for me,” she said. “I came from Miami-Dade College, where I had a full scholarship for academics and was used to making A’s.”
She remembers the disappointment of receiving a C on her first exam. The scores were posted, so she knew that it was the highest grade in the class.
“I asked the professor if he would give a curve on the test and he said ‘no’,” she said. “That is when I realized that I was receiving a quality education.”
Montenegro ended up taking every class that the professor offered by the time she graduated. She enjoyed the challenge that drove her to achieve more.
Montenegro’s career accomplishments have displayed her determination to succeed. Currently, she is the vice president of human resources and employee relations of the publicly-traded company, Terremark Worldwide, Inc. (TWW), the leading operator of integrated Internet exchanges and a global provider of managed IT infrastructure solutions for seven locations across the U.S., Europe, and Latin America.
In this role, she is responsible for human resource functions and staffing expansion. Since joining TWW, she has grown overall operations from fewer than 100 employees to more than 300, both in the U.S. and globally. Within the first year alone, she realized more than $1 million in recruitment savings by implementing new programs and minimizing external agency dependency.
Montenegro said the most enjoyable aspect of her job at Terremark is seeing the growth and development of the company as well as of each individual employee.
Montenegro has twenty years of experience in the human resources field. Before joining Terremark, she was employed by Carnival Resorts and Casinos (now known as Penn Nation Gaming, Inc.) for six years and held the positions of vice president of human resources and vice president of administration. She was the director of human resources at Doral Golf Resort and Spa and has held several other positions in the field.
Montenegro’s best advice for new graduates is to follow up on every single resume sent out. In today’s hectic and chaotic work environment, it is easy for resumes to get passed over or filed away. Following up on resumes that are sent out will help them stand out from other resumes.
She said she also sees that young graduates may have a degree, but many are not ready to enter the business working environment. Basic business savvy skills are needed for graduates to enter the job market. Simple tasks like preparing memos and phone etiquette are required and expected. When hiring a new employee, she said she looks at a candidate’s degree, as well as his/her work experience and volunteer work.
“It’s important to take time to give back to the community,” she said. “You can meet others from all walks of life through volunteering.” She added that some of her best leads have come from volunteering, and her community involvement ranges from professional organizations to her children’s school.
Montenegro said that her greatest accomplishment is improving the quality of life for employees and helping others. When she was working at Doral Golf Resort & Spa, she arranged an after-hours program for employees to be compensated to attend an English language training session. One of the housekeeping employees who attended excelled and went on to become a server and then a banquet captain. The employee’s son thanked Montenegro personally for contributing to his mother’s success.
“As a human resource manager, you hear plenty of complaints because it is the nature of the job, but the memorable moments that affect the quality of people’s lives are what make a world of difference.”