M. Michele (“Shelly”) Sponholz

This entry is part 72 of 77 in the series

Michelle Shelly SponholzM. Michele (“Shelly”) Sponholz

Giant Eagle Inc.
Senior Vice President, Real Estate & Development

Years with company: 18 Years

Education Degrees/professional/volunteer/organizations:

  • Allegheny College, BA in Political Science/Pre-Law
  • Penn State University, AD in Paralegal Science
  • Master of Corporate Real Estate (CoreNet Global)
  • Member – International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC)
  • Member – ICSC Open Air Shopping Center Committee
  • Member – CoreNet Global and Board Member of its Pittsburgh, PA Chapter
  • Member – Food Marketing Institute (FMI)
  • Board Member – Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council

Mentors and how they have assisted in your career: Mentors, both formal and informal, have played a critical part in my career development.  One of my first mentors was an amazing female executive who rose in the ranks of McDonald’s Corporation to become its President of US Operations.  She challenged everyone around her but was also quick to acknowledge quality work and build confidence in those around her.  Her mentorship inspired me to stay focused and strive to be effective no matter what obstacles I had to overcome.  From the day I began my career at Giant Eagle, I was fortunate to have our now president and chief operating officer as my mentor.  He taught me the supermarket business, supported by growth within the organization, listened to my concerns and always pushed me to do more and be better.  Last but not least are those that provide mentorship informally.  Administrative staff, middle management as well as peer group advice has helped me to understand the differing dynamics of how managers can improve and become more effective both personally and professionally.

What are you most proud of in your career achievements?  Do you have a defining moment of your career to date? The excitement and satisfaction derived from supporting our company’s successful entry into new markets and its development of several new formats (Market District, GetGo, GEX, Market District Express and Good Cents) is a great source of pride.  This achievement would not have been successful without the tireless efforts of my team members.  It was having the honor and pleasure of leading their work that made these events extraordinary.  When I was in my mid-twenties, I made the decision to “climb the corporate” ladder.  At the time, I wasn’t sure what that meant but it was the aspirational goal that resulted in my joining McDonald’s Corporation’s real estate department.  That “concept” plan for my career was the building block to a rewarding career in corporate real estate and construction.

Most challenging part of your job: Change Management.  Staying ahead of the curve in the supermarket business means new challenges, innovation and the inevitable accompanying changes that keep our business relevant.  It is both the life-blood of our industry and one of the ingredients that makes every day fresh and exciting.

Advice for upcoming younger executives: Work hard.  Be patient when necessary.  Speak out for what you really believe in.  Seek feedback – consider it a gift.  Be willing to change.  Ask for help when you need it.  Be confident.  Respect for others never goes out of style.  Enjoy what you do!

Hobbies: Travel, Literature, Antiquing