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21 Deborah Hopkins

Chief Innovation Officer

Citigroup hit bottom in 2008, posting an $18.7 billion loss made even worse by a subsequent restatement. Yet in May of that year, CEO Vikram Pandit cut through the gloom by appointing Deborah Hopkins chief innovation officer. “Innovation is critical for Citi’s future growth,” Pandit said then. “Debby will work closely with Citi’s regional and product leadership to help us serve clients better by driving innovation through the enterprise.” That commitment and Hopkins’s three years of effort have gone a long way toward reclaiming the financial technology leadership for which Citi was renowned under past chairmen Walter Wriston and John Reed. The bank has gained access to critical technologies and expertise through partnerships, and there’s no more fertile ground for these than California’s Silicon Valley, where Hopkins, 56, is based. Being there, she says, has “fundamentally changed our lives.” The region has “thousands of start-ups focused on mobile payments alone.” Hopkins has forged relationships elsewhere too, with Microsoft Corp. and Morningstar, and worked on the Smart Banking branch modernization initiative that started at Citibank Japan and will be rolled out in other countries. Formerly CFO of  Boeing Co. and Lucent Technologies, Hopkins joined Citi in 2002 as head of corporate strategy, later serving as chief operations and technology officer.