40 Under 40 Class of 2008

Sheryl Shinn

Age 33: Senior Vice President, Hampden Bank

Sheryl Shinn loved studying math — even though she had no idea what career it would lead to.

“My favorite subject was mathemetics,” said Shinn, who selected it as a major at Mount Holyoke College. After graduation, with an additional major in Statistics and a minor in Computer Science in hand, she found a good career fit at Easthampton Savings Bank, where she worked in the systems department. She eventually advanced to an officer’s position, but saw no further room for growth. That changed when a vice-president job opened up at Hampden Bank in 2005.

She was promoted soon after to senior vice president — the first woman to serve in such a capacity at Hampden — and today oversees two divisions: operations and information technology, the latter of which includes managing the bank’s network communications, Internet, and any other technology in use. In 2007, she led a project to implement new check-imaging technology for commercial customers.

“I love that my job is very challenging,” said Shinn. “It changes constantly, and there are always opportunities for learning, growth, and advancement. When I meet other people in my position, we say we’re jacks of all trades, masters of none.”

Well, masterful enough to understand the ins and outs of 60 different software applications, each with its own idisyncracies, she explained. “With the size of our organization, you need to know a lot of things; I work on the network, service, workstations. The job is ever-changing, and that’s what keeps things interesting and creates opportunities as well.”

It’s no surprise that Shinn values lifetime learning. In her spare time, she serves on the New Hingham Regional School Council and also mentors a Springfield ninth-grader one day a week.

“I believe education was the basis for my whole career,” she said, “and when I learned that the graduation rate in Springfield schools is around 50%, it really hit home for me. There are so many students out there who won’t ever graduate from high school, never mind college. So I really wanted to put some work into that area.”

The citywide program aims to match each student with one mentor in a relationship that will last throughout high school. “I get to be a role model for someone to see that you can be successful by staying in school.”

That’s advice anyone can, well, count on.

Joseph Bednar