2018 Top Hat Finalist Spotlight – Derek Morganti

2018 Back of House – Hospitality Finalist

Derek Morganti

Hyatt Regency Albuquerque

What was your first job in the hospitality/tourism industry?
Depending on what you consider, I began as a busser at Romano’s Macaroni Grill when I was 15 and moved my way up in F&B. In 2012 I started at Hyatt in the Banquets team, and moved to Operations 2 years ago.

Who has helped/mentored you throughout your career?
My doting wife, Lauren. My friends and coworkers Greg Olson and Reinier Ramirez. My parents. Our leadership team at the hotel, but George San Miguel, Mindy Jensen, and Pete Mora especially.

What has been the highlight of your career?
Oddly quiet times. In the hotel after a massive overnight project has been completed. Surrounded by the other engineers, exhausted, but immensely happy to have been successful repairing the building without (too many) guests even noticing. I am fortunate to have had several occasions of this happening. The morale of the team lifts after times like these and it feels wonderful.

Red or Green?
Green. Though better do it Christmas. That’s what the missus likes and she staked claim on all things delicious long ago. I signed a prenup for it too.

What is one suggestion or piece of advice you would share with young people entering the hospitality/tourism business?
The industry is incredibly broad. There are a thousand things to do and even more to learn. There are no ruts to be stuck in. I’ve moved around a lot and am constantly thinking about how good a fit a different team member would be in Engineering. I have worked alongside many other success stories of Sales Managers coming from Serving. Painters from Convention Services. HR Managers from Housekeeping. It is diverse but isn’t scary. We are all one big team and are constantly looking out for each other.

What is your favorite New Mexico travel experience?
One weekend my wife’s parents were going to be passing through and on a whim we decided to rent Harley Davidson motorcycles and do a Wild Hogs trip through Madrid, Santa Fe, then back home. We went up the Sandia Mountains and made a whole trip out of it. Beautiful.

What is your favorite quote or piece of inspiration?
“If you look for the light, you can often find it, but if you look for the darkness, it is all you will ever see.” -Iroh

What does being a finalist for the Top HAT Awards mean to you?
It is unexpected. I feel selfish in the way that I work, as I am bettering myself only for me. I start letting my doubt take hold and start thinking that Engineering doesn’t really attract tourism to the hotel. However, I also see my folly. The pride I take in my own work and the work that our excellent engineering team puts out directly affects our guests and their stay. We genuinely care about the little details being right and every aspect of the hotel remaining functional. We take it deeply personally when we can’t deliver on this or repair the malfunction. So keeping that in mind, I am very grateful to the organization and my hotel that they would honor me like this.

Stay tuned for more Finalist Spotlights as we get closer to the 2018 New Mexico True Top HAT Awards Gala on November 8th!