Q&A: Deborah Guyton


Deborah Guyton. Courtesy Wolverine Building Group

Editor’s note: Each Q&A in the Influential Women enewsletter will feature a woman from the region who’s influential, a rising face in her industry or doing interesting work. Submit tips on potential Q&A subjects to tgortsema at grbj dot com.

Deborah Guyton is a seasoned professional with demonstrated experience in all of the major areas of human resources, diversity and cultural competence.

Guyton is bi-vocational (human resources and ministry/nonprofit). Her career extends over 30 years with progression from various industries, organizations and disciplines, such as retail, food, health care and manufacturing.

As vice president of human resources at Wolverine Building Group, Guyton has been provided an opportunity to fully utilize her talents as a strategist, executor, change agent, facilitator and coach to fulfill her personal mission to educate, equip and empower individuals.    

Biggest career break?

My biggest career break was refusing to be defined by my family dynamics, personal circumstances and financial challenges and becoming an intentional learner, who allowed education to change my life. Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon that you can use to change the world.” My life is my biggest break! 

Proudest moment? 

Davenport University awarded me with the Hy Berkowitz Professional Excellence Award for my professional achievements, involvement in professional, educational and civic organizations, strong commitment to my community and church and for the manner in which I exemplified the university motto, “Make a living. Make a life. Make a contribution.” 

Best advice you’ve ever received?           

“Be great at being you.”

How did you make your first dollar? 

I worked as a secretary through the Grand Rapids Comprehensive Employment and Training Act, or CETA, program. It was a program that offered summer jobs to low-income high school students.

Most-treasured possession? 

The Holy Bible. One of my favorite scriptures that I apply to my life is Joshua 1:9 (New International Version): “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Dream job?         

After I retire from my HR career, I want to travel as an international missionary and lead my own foundation, where I assist in making people’s dreams and visions a reality.

If you were president for a day, you would … ?

Level the playing field for all in the areas of taxes and education. 

Last book you read?

The Ideal Team Player” by Patrick Lencioni

Last search term you googled?

I just returned from my first trip to Hawaii (Maui) and searched the meanings of “aloha” and “mahalo.”

Your worst habit?

Falling asleep on the couch in the living room watching television.

To unwind, you like to … ?

Turn on the television, music or sit in silence.

Dream vacation?

Bora Bora (160 miles from Tahiti)

Favorite food? 

Fried chicken

Person you most admire?

My late grandmother, Lena Guyton. She demonstrated strength, wisdom and was the matriarch for my family. Her legacy reached deep into the community where she lived and served.

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