What does it mean to be an ATHENA?

For the past 25 years, the Buffalo Niagara Partnership has honored the valuable contributions made by area individuals to advance the status of women in the Buffalo Niagara region.

The ATHENA Leadership Award®, and the ATHENA Young Professional Leadership Award® are given to individuals who have achieved professional success, contribute time and energy to making the region a better place, and actively assist others (particularly women) in reaching their potential.

As we approach our 26th ATHENA Awards luncheon in 2016, we will offer profiles of past ATHENA Award honorees- demonstrating what it takes to be an ATHENA. Visit our blog often to see more ATHENA profiles in the future.

Know someone who should be an ATHENA? Nominations fro the 2016 ATHENA Awards remain open until November 6th! To have a nomination form sent to you, or if you have questions about the process, please contact Krystal Sondel by e-mail ksondel@thepartnership.org or phone at 716-541-1720

ATHENA Spotlight
Sharon Lochocki
Regional Retail Sales Leader, Senior Vice President
Key Bank Western New York Region
Received ATHENA in 2009

What did receiving the ATHENA Award mean to you? What do you think it means to be an ATHENA?

When I received the award in 2009, what I felt most was gratitude. So many people, professionally and personally, had helped me get to the point in my life where I could be recognized for having built a successful career that afforded me opportunities to make a meaningful difference in the community. In fact, many of them were at the ceremony with me. It felt like validation for a long journey we had all traveled together. It also reinforced for me what it means to be an ATHENA, which is to be a leader who achieves success by lifting others to their greatest heights. For me, I do this in two ways: mentoring and sponsoring.

To mentor is to guide. To sponsor is to promote and make introductions. Over the course of my career, I have been on the receiving  end of both, and these experiences have shaped me into the leader I am today. Being able to do that for other women is very important to me. If the knowledge or experience I share can help them attain that goal, then I’ve been successful as a leader, community member and/or mentor. I’ve been successful as an ATHENA.

What have you been up to in your career since receiving the ATHENA Award?

I have been in banking for more than 30 years. It’s amazing but true to say that there are still parts of the banking world I do not know yet. So learning about fresh aspects of our business as they evolve may be one of the most satisfying aspects of my work with Key. In addition, my area of oversight has expanded to include the Rochester Market. I am now responsible for managing 95 branches and more than 100 ATMs across 10 counties in Buffalo and Rochester.

What is the best piece of advice you have been given?

The best piece of advice I have ever gotten could be collectively summarized as the following: to be successful you must be an early adapter to change, own your development and build a network. It is advice I often give to others.