Denise Slettene-Sharpe, 2020 New York Women in Banking Winner

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Denise Slettene-Sharpe

Vice President, Retail Experience Leader for the Atlantic & Capital Regions
Key Bank

How did you get into this field? What keeps you motivated to stay?

I began my career in banking as a part-time Teller at Anchor Savings Bank in Orangeburg while attending Dominican College of Blauvelt.  I noticed the job posting at the college, and appreciated the location was right across the street.  From my first day I loved it!  I felt an immediate connection to so many clients, some of which I still stay in contact with today.  In all aspects of retail banking, the ability to impact clients’ lives is my passion.  In my current role at Key Bank, my primary focus is the Client Experience and delivering Financial Wellness to each and everyone of our clients.  Our mission is to positively impact our clients’ Financial Wellness, whether you are the CEO of a corporation, a student just getting their first checking account, or someone who has weathered financial hardships and is trying to get back on track.  Being able to watch people thrive and achieve their goals is really what continues to keep me excited about retail banking.

Have you had any great female mentors? What is the importance of mentoring and is this something that you focus on?

I have! No pathway to success is without challenges.  When I became an Area Retail Leader, I was struggling and my manager at the time suggested I form a mentor relationship with our current Capital Regional Retail Leader, Ruth Mahoney.  It was a game changer!  Our weekly conversations made a huge impact on my career and helped me find the success I was looking for in the role I was in at the time.  Fast forward and 8 years later our paths have once again crossed in my current role and we are back to weekly conversations, as partners now.  I truly value Ruth’s opinion, expertise and insights and still consider her a mentor.  Key Bank has a formal mentorship program called MentorMe@Key, which I recently joined in my new role.  I’m looking forward to giving back and making a difference in other Key employee’s careers.  But even without the formal program, all new teammates are paired with someone as a mentor to help them learn how to navigate not only Key but their own career paths.  I have found the mentor/mentee relationship to be invaluable!

What is your favorite movie? Why?

My favorite movie is A Beautiful Mind with Russell Crow.  Besides being highly riveting throughout, the ending was a huge surprise!  But what really resonated with me was how successful and respected John Nash was while struggling with mental illness most of his life.  It made me realize that no one should be discounted due to their disabilities, and we all have contributions to make.  With the right support, individuals of all backgrounds can be successful.

What do you consider your greatest success?

From a career perspective I would say my greatest success are the diverse and successful teams I have been able to form and the relationships I’ve been able to establish.  I love watching my team thrive and be successful.  I love helping them achieve their goals and watching them coach and develop their own teams.  I’m at a point in my career where my team’s success has become more important than my own.  I feel more fulfilled when our team and partners achieve success and I know that I was an instrumental part of the group working toward and achieving a goal.