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women in banking 2016October 2016, Southington, Conn. – On Friday, October 21, COCC sponsored a panel at the annual New England Women in Banking Conference, entitled “Building the Next Generation of Women Leaders.” Moderated by Kim Carlone, COCC’s Manager of People Strategy, the panel discussed what it takes to develop the next wave of empowered women in banking and featured several top executives from the region’s banks, credit unions and mortgage companies. Panelists included Christine Bodine, Vice President of Cash Management at Fairfield County Bank, Sheryl Shinn, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer at Unibank, Sarah Valentini, founder and CEO of Radius Financial Group and Jill Nowacki, President and CEO of the Credit Union League of Connecticut.

Financial institutions are facing a new challenge as the baby boomer generation reaches their retirement years. Within the next decade, these long-term employees will be exiting the workforce in unprecedented numbers—leaving companies to hire, train and retain members of the next generation while developing them into strong, confident leaders. COCC began addressing this need several years ago by bolstering its internship program, implementing extensive training opportunities for all employees and adding the unique perks and work/life balance offerings favored by the millennial generation.

“This is an exciting time in the workplace as we reinvent our organizations to respond and adapt to the needs of our next generation of contributors and leaders,” said Ms. Carlone. “Companies that are motivated to build flexible, collaborative and innovative cultures that emphasize learning will be the winners in the search for great talent.”

With these changes and strategies in mind, COCC opted to sponsor this timely panel discussion to give these industry thought leaders an opportunity to share their insight on individual and organizational approaches to succeed in this new paradigm. The discussion centered around what companies can do to build a culture that encourages women to become leaders, as well as ways to grow and develop high potential employees from the up-and-coming millennial generation. Panelists discussed the challenges they faced from the start of their careers, how they moved up within the ranks or founded their own companies and described the risks they took along the way. Throughout the discussion, panelists stressed the importance of continuing education, the role of mentors, effective intergenerational communication strategies as well as the need to be highly adaptable and willing to take risks to move ahead.

“COCC has had great success in building an engaged employee culture,” said Ms. Carlone. “We’re eager to see what innovative services and product offerings this pipeline of new talent will bring to our clients in the future!”

The 45-minute panel was attended by a mix of women in the early stages of their careers through senior-level financial institution leaders looking to foster opportunities within their own organizations. Several COCC women leaders and employees from all levels of the company were in attendance as well.