The 2013 Tech 50: Deborah Hopkins

The Citigroup CIO carries out her mission of  'client-focused innovation’ by exploring and building relationships with the high-tech world.

Deborah Hopkins
Chief Innovation Officer
Last year: 18

A few things have changed since Deborah Hopkins became Citigroup’s chief innovation officer in 2008. The economy, the banking industry and New York–based Citi’s profitability have rebounded from the despair of the financial crisis. Vikram Pandit, the CEO who created Hopkins’s job, was replaced last October by Michael Corbat. And a swarm of technologies that were just emerging five years ago — Hopkins reels them off as “social, mobile, consumerization of IT, cloud, big data” — has brought about “disruption accelerating at a crazy pace,” says the 58-year-old. “We are fortunate to be in the middle of disruption in so many different categories.” A former chief operations and technology officer and head of corporate strategy for $1.9 trillion-in-assets Citi, Hopkins carries out her mission of  “client-focused innovation” by exploring and building relationships with the high-tech world. As chairman of Citi Venture Capital Initiatives, a strategic investment fund based in Palo Alto, California, Hopkins leads a multinational team that met with 800 young companies last year. One high-profile portfolio investment is mobile commerce start-up Square. Another, cybersecurity innovator Silver Tail Systems, was acquired by EMC Corp. last year. Hopkins says that although the undisclosed exit payoff was “a pleasant surprise,” Citi was motivated more by the partnership and the insights it yielded.

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