Builders at our Core: Alondra Navarro
Data centers have become so integral to our everyday lives that we take them for granted. They play a crucial role in many of the tasks we perform, from asking a device to play a song, to the Cloud-based systems we depend on 24/7 to reading this story right now. Data centers make these mission critical tasks so seamless we don’t even consider their complexity behind constructing these facilities. With demand growing by the day, the construction of data centers shows no sign of slowing, even as the construction itself is no easy feat.
DPR completed its first data center more than 25 years ago and has built more than 850 since being founded. One such project that is currently under construction is the Meta Mesa Data Center in Mesa, AZ. Once complete, it will be among the most advanced and energy- and water-efficient data centers in the world and will provide over 200 operational jobs to the local community. A five-building campus encompassing over 2.5 million square feet of space, the number of skilled tradespeople onsite peaked at 2,000 workers. One of these team members is Alondra Navarro, a DPR safety coordinator, who shared her experience recently.
Q: What is your role at DPR? Describe the path you took to get there.
Navarro: I’m a safety coordinator here in Arizona, but I come from a family of drywallers—my father, my grandfather, my tios. My dad has his own construction company. He wanted me to do paperwork, but I wanted to learn how to hang drywall and how a building came together. When I started at DPR almost two years ago, I was a drywall apprentice. Then, I was asked to be a part-time safety coordinator and later moved to doing it full-time. I really enjoy being involved in safety.
Q: What are some interesting aspects about the project you’re working on right now?
Navarro: This is the first large data center I’ve been involved in, and it is mind blowing. When I started here, I had walking meetings with the project leaders to learn their expectations and what they look for on their walks. There are a lot of security protocols on this project and restrictions for who comes on site, so I assist team members in getting access.
On this project, I’m overseeing safety for Drywall, Strut, Division 7, and Doors Frames and Hardware. Division 7 has to do with the protection and performance of the building envelope. I walk different areas and give team members advice on safety protocols for various tasks.
Q: What is one thing you think everyone can do to make the industry as a whole safer for everyone?
Navarro: I think being open minded and learning to accept feedback from others goes a long way. People in the thick of things might not see potential issues that others with fresh eyes might. Building safe habits is the key—if it’s a habit it becomes automatic. It is easier to forget small details when you’re in a hurry.
We have meetings with safety managers at least once a week. We identify EHS toolbox talks we can focus on with workers on the jobsite. We also help them with OSHA certifications.
Q: How do you plan every day? For safety? For quality?
Navarro: I talk to the foremen, ask them questions about the plans for the day. I find out if there’s anything we need to focus on or if any incidents have occurred that we should talk about. I always ask, “What did we do yesterday that we can do better today?”
We start every morning with a stretch and flex, then a huddle, toolbox talks, and talking about our expectations for the day. If we hear about an incident at another contractor, we try to be proactive and come up with solutions for prevent those things from happening on our projects.
Q: What is your proudest moment at DPR?
Navarro: It makes me happy when people ask me to translate. My parents are from Guanajuato in Central Mexico. Some of our team members don’t speak English, which can make it harder for them to communicate. I help translate the all-hands meetings we have every Tuesday, where we get updates on the jobsite. Knowing English and Spanish has helped me connect with everyone. It makes me proud that I’m able to reach out to them that way.
Q: To be successful in your role, what skills does a person need?
Navarro: Being communicative and learning how to talk to people is the most important thing. Getting through to people can take time. People don’t always “get it” the first time and you have to remind them. That can be challenging because you don’t want to sound like a broken record, so it’s important to create relationships and be able to talk to your team members in a supportive way.
Q: What would your advice be for the next generation of builders entering this field?
Navarro: My advice is to go for it. Sometimes even going into a role that’s out of your comfort zone is a good thing because it gets you out there. My communication skills were not as a strong before I became a safety coordinator, but I have stepped up. It has helped me become the person I am right now.
Builders at our Core is a blog series dedicated to sharing stories of DPR’s self-perform work teams. With diverse career paths, we’ll hear from people who got to where they are in very different ways, but have a few key things in common: a passion for continuous learning, growth and building great things.
Posted on January 26, 2024
Last Updated January 19, 2024