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Deborah Hopkins
Chief Innovation Officer
Last year: 21

Citigroup chief executive Vikram Pandit's May 2008 appointment of Deborah Hopkins as the company's first chief innovation officer was a call to arms. The message was "to make innovation everybody's business," says Hopkins, 57. "He could have just said, 'We'll have a skunkworks to work on the next great thing, and we'll touch base from time to time.' But there was a real recognition of the changing landscape for all of us." Adds Palo Alto, California–based Hopkins, a former chief operations and technology officer and head of corporate strategy, "Who would have guessed at the impact of social networking and this incredible level of connectivity we all have?" Her aim is to foster innovation throughout the $1.9 trillion-in-assets, 266,000-employee institution, reasoning that "everybody has a role" and "you don't have to be a nerdy innovator to add value here." Citi Ideas, a program Hopkins describes as "not the old 'dead letter' suggestion box," culled 2,500 futuristic recommendations down to ten finalists and ultimately one winner, which will be presented to a senior team for possible launch. As chairman of venture capital initiatives, Hopkins oversees Citi Ventures, a strategic portfolio that includes trading platform developer InvestLab and mobile payments company Obopay.