Blazing A Trail Through Male-Dominated Industries: Interview with Longo’s COO Deb Craven


Share post:

For years, Deb Craven has been blazing a trail through male-dominated industries including sports and apparel, logistics and now grocery retail as the Chief Operating Officer of Longo’s.

Her career path has been unique with positions over the years with NIKE, SportChek, Marks and Purolator.

She has built an incredible career grounded in hard work, supportive managers, curiosity, and having the confidence to speak her mind, even when she was the only woman in the room. 

From her decades of experience, Craven is a treasure-trove of advice:

  • Don’t worry about what everyone else in the room is thinking about you. (A piece of advice one of her first managers ever told her. That same manager continues to be a mentor for Deb.)
  • Be curious and ask questions. 
  • Learn everything about where you are. Don’t be afraid to go outside of your swim lane.
  • Count on yourself. There is strength in being independent (a lesson she learned from her grandmother and mother, and her daughter)
  • Use your skill set to your advantage. They have many uses and give you more opportunities than you know.
  • Surround yourself with people who champion you. (Deb is still friends with a group of women who met in Kindergarten!)
  • Determine what balance means for you and get comfortable with it.
  • Make sure there are diverse voices around the table and encourage them to speak by giving them the space to do so.
  • Every complex issue is solvable if it is understood and worked through as a team. 
  • Women are unique in their ability to empathize, bring emotional intelligence, and create safe spaces, something others can struggle to do. When our team members open up to us, we can more easily unearth what is really going on and what needs to change. As a leader, we can then champion those changes.
  • People think that being strong doesn’t translate to being kind, but it does; there is a lot of strength and success in being kind. The best relationships at work happen when you take the time to get to know people and allow vulnerability on both sides. These are traits of women leaders.

Career Highlights:

  • Received her Certified Accountant designation after graduating from university
  • Chief Financial Officer for Nike Canada
  • Chief Financial Officer for Purolator Canada
  • Senior Vice President for Sport Chek and Mark’s
  • Chief Operating Officer, Longo’s
  • Receiving the peer-nominated Star Women in Grocery award

In this video interview, Craven discusses her career and advice she has for other women looking to advance in the world of business.

The Video Interview Series by Retail Insider is available on YouTube.

Connect with Mario Toneguzzi, a veteran of the media industry for more than 40 years and named in 2021 a Top Ten Business Journalist in the world and the only Canadian – to learn how you can tell your story, share your message and amplify it to a wide audience. He is Senior News Editor with Retail Insider and owner of Mario Toneguzzi Communications Inc. and can be reached at

Interviewed this episode:

Like, Share and Subscribe to Mario Toneguzzi on YouTube!

Follow Mario:

Also check out the other series offered by Retail Insider, including The Weekly podcast and The Interview Series, which are both available on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, Google Podcasts, or through our dedicated RSS feed for Simplecast and other podcast players.

Follow Retail Insider:

Share your thoughts!

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He is the Senior News Editor with Retail Insider in addition to working as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

More From The Author



Subscribe to the Newsletter

Related articles

The New Grocery Code of Conduct Should Benefit Both Canadians and the Food Industry [Op-Ed]

An industry expert provides an overview of what the new code should improve and supply chain management practices as consumers grapple with rapid food inflation.

Columbus Café Expands Rapidly in Canada, Opening 10th Location in Montreal and Announcing First Toronto Location [Interview]

The Parisian chain is looking to grow its presence in Canada significantly with a goal for a significant number of locations, according to its broker.

Swarovski Opens Unique One-of-a-Kind Canadian Concept Store on Bloor Street in Toronto [Photos]

Toronto is one of only a handful of cities globally to feature Swarovski’s new Instant Wonder concept store design. 

Healthy Planet Expands in Southern Ontario with 4 New Locations and Innovative Healthy Planet Kitchen [Interview]

One of Canada's fastest growing health and wellness retail chains is growing its brick-and-mortar presence while launching a new concept, says its GM.

Canadian Restaurants Facing Impending Bankruptcies as CEBA Loan Repayment Deadline Looms [Survey]

Research is showing an increase in bankruptcies with a loan repayment deadline at the end of the year potentially throwing the industry into chaos.

Louis Vuitton Opens Canada’s 2nd Men’s Ready-to-Wear Concession at Holt Renfrew Ogilvy in Montreal [Photos]

The luxury superbrand is growing its ready-to-wear presence in Canada in the country’s second-largest city, which will see even more clothing when a flagship Vuitton opens at Royalmount next year.

The Body Shop North America Appoints New General Manager to Expand Business: Interview with Jordan Searle

Searle discusses plans to upgrade stores with The Body Shop's new Workshop concept as the brand continues to see consumer growth amid competition.

Canadian Consumers will Abandon Checkouts if Preferred Payment Methods Unavailable [Study/Interview]

A new report examines consumer behaviour in Canada, indicating that retailers need to invest in tech to gain shopper loyalty.

Rack Attack Continues Expansion in Canada, Adding Three New Stores and Acquiring Calgary Locations [Interview]

The retailer of car racks, bike racks, rooftop tents, overlanding, and other outdoor gear is growing its operations in Canada with plans for more locations amid consumer demand.

Pilgrim CEO Robert Hayes Discusses the Jeweller’s Expansion Plans in Canada: Video Interview

The discussion includes how Hayes brought the brand into the market, what makes it so popular, wholesale expansion, and what's in store for new locations in Canada including one at CF Toronto Eaton Centre opening in late June.

Fitness Concept elleTO Growing Business with Female-Focus [Interview]

Founder Michelle Epstein discusses the rebrand and location moves which are proving successful for the 12-year old women's gym.

Montreal-Based Gourmet Salad Brand Mandy’s Sets Ambitious Expansion Plans, Eyeing National and International Growth [Interview]

The popular salad restaurant chain is looking at opening a substantial number of locations, given success after a recent expansion.