Editorial: 04.10.2023

Norma Zepeda – From Receptionist to Project Engineer

Norma Zepeda

As a new mom with a six-month-old son, Norma Zepeda applied for a receptionist position at a local San Diego construction company. This is the job that sparked her career in construction and 19 years later she now holds the title of Project Engineer with Castle Contracting.  

At the time, it was just a job to pay the bills, but she stayed for the company values and opportunities. They were a very family-oriented company and treated their employees well. 

Over the years Zepeda went from receptionist to administrative assistant, to estimating coordinator, and then to the role of project coordinator.

At this point in Zepeda’s life, she decided to have another child. Around the time her daughter was six months old, she decided to interview with Castle. At the time, the Castle San Diego office was just starting up and was still working out of an old office space with only a few employees. 

“I rejected the offer initially,” says Zepeda. “This was just because my daughter was a baby at the time, and I didn't know if it was the right fit or not. I didn't know the direction this company was going. I had originally wanted to work for McCarthy, but there weren’t any openings. They said there were opportunities at their sibling company Castle where I interviewed with Jason Mrozek. I left the interview with mixed feelings, but he offered me the job right away. But as I said, I originally declined! We joke about it now, but after more than a few conversations with Mrozek, he had convinced me to give Castle a shot.” 

Growing with The Company

After four years with Castle, Zepeda cannot imagine being so happy with any other company. She has watched the office grow from only a few employees to over 30 with a beautiful new office space. In those same four years, the San Diego office grew from a $4-million-dollar company into a $43-million-dollar company.

“I've never felt so connected to a company before I started working for Castle. We laugh about it! I tell them, I'm never going to leave here. You'll have to drag me out of here for me to leave Castle,” Zepeda laughs. 

“I've never felt that way about a job before,” she explains. “It was always just a job. I'm going to come to work and I'm going to leave. The difference is that I love the people that I work with and they really feel like family to me. And second to that my leaders always have my back. Jason Mrozek, Tim Conkling, and Keaton Taylor always believe in me even when I don’t fully believe in myself. And that feels really good.”

With Castle’s rapid growth, Zepeda started assisting with more project engineering tasks for Castle. This opportunity allowed her to gain experience in the role, which never seemed like an option with previous companies.   

In December 2022, Zepeda was officially promoted to Project Engineer. 

“I was intimated at first because I had been working as a Project Coordinator for so long and I was so good at it. Since the promotion, I have been learning a lot. Each day is a new challenge.” Zepeda says. 

Learning to Be A Project Engineer

In the role of Project Engineer, Zepeda is responsible for providing tracking and general job support to Project Managers and Superintendents. She performs document control, reviews drawing sets, and connects with everyone involved to make sure materials and plans are set. 

“This has been a huge change for me. I had gotten to the point where I could perform my last position with my eyes closed.” She explains, “It has been frustrating and overwhelming at times, but it is great to have a new challenge and at the end of the day, I really like my new position.” 

Castle's Work-life Balance

As a mom, family has always been important to Zepeda. It was the element that originally drew her to her first position in construction and is part of the values that keep her at Castle now. 

Born in Honduras, Zepeda came to the United States with her mother and sisters at the age of two and most of her childhood was spent in the North Park neighborhood of San Diego. She is the youngest of five siblings and they are all still very close. She considers herself a San Diego native and has no plans on leaving the beautiful place she calls home.

She now lives in the Chula Vista area of Paradise Hills with her family. Although her son now lives in Las Vegas working for the U.S. Air Force, they are still very close and are frequently making trips to see one another and family.   

Zepeda and her fiancé Rob are big into trying new restaurants and consider themselves foodies. Since her daughter is still young, they like to spend their free time doing family activities like going to the Zoo, Balboa Park, and the beach. She likes to stay connected to friends by planning happy hours and brunch events about once a month. 

Zepeda says, “I truly can’t imagine life any other way. Sometimes it’s those little unexpected things in life that make the biggest difference in our lives.”

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