2019 Onyx Woman Leadership Award Honoree, Debra Hickman, Has Climbed Mountains on Her Journey to Reach Her Goals


Name: Debra Hickman

Title: Owner

Company: Giant Eagle

Industry: Retail

  1. Why did you choose this profession? 

I always enjoyed working with the public, especially with our youth. As an independent owner, it gave me the opportunity to serve, support, and be a mentor in the community. My goal was to offer on-site apprenticeship programs that enabled us to train, develop, mentor, and empower employees in various fields such as customer service, accounting, baking, cake decorating, meat cutting, department management, corporate directors, and entrepreneurs. To date, I know of 10 former employees that have opened businesses.

2. What does receiving this award mean to you? 

I am humbled and honored to receive this award. To God be the glory! I began my career with Giant Eagle Corporation in 1973 for $2.20 per hour and utilized all the training and mentoring the company offered and was able to become an owner. Knowing I serve an awesome God and having faith in Him, all things are possible. He said ask and it shall be given, and if you have faith in Him, you can move mountains and nothing will be impossible for you.

3. What advice would you give to other women who want to go into your field?

Keep God first. Understand “WHY” you want your business and don’t lose sight of it. Get specialized knowledge of the business, be coachable, surround yourself with talented people, respect yourself and others, visit your competition, support the community you serve, and set examples for employees and customers. 

4. What would you tell other women about overcoming obstacles? 

Eliminate the word obstacles and instead use the word mountains. Keep your “WHY” in front of you. Pray for understanding and guidance. You may need to be still and evaluate the situation. You may need a consultant for additional knowledge in the field so you can put corrective actions in place. Understand that mountains are for your personal development and essential for your success in your life journey.

5. How have you evolved over the years? 

The bravest thing I have done to get me where I am today: I picked up the phone that I thought weighed 150 pounds and made an appointment with David Shapira, the CEO and Owner of Giant Eagle Corporation.

On May 4, 2019, we will be honoring Debbie Hickman along with 18 other women who have been selected for their contributions to other women. For early registration, go to https://onyxwoman.com/vip-onyx-woman-leadership-award

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  1. Debbie Hickman has been such an inspiration to me. I met her three months ago and she has already impacted my life in a positive way. She has a zest for life that is contagious and she’s always stretching and encouraging everyone to be their best! I appreciate working alongside of her in her business group. Her business expertise and community influence is a testament to how hard work, dedication to a cause other than self and her unique ways of modeling “all things are possible if you want it” has been refreshing and a definite testament to her success. It is an honor to be a part of her business group.

    Valerie Lowe


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