A New York VC Spotlight: Deborah Hopkins



If ever there was someone who knew the true meaning of innovation, it would be Deborah Hopkins. Ms. Hopkins currently holds the title of Citi’s Chief Innovation Officer, and has worked in this role since 2008. Ms. Hopkins focuses on building partnerships with venture capitalists, government agencies, startups, corporations, academic institutions and thought leaders to support the progress of growing technologies in the design, development and implementation of customer oriented business models. In this role, she works to optimize creativity and to ensure operating efficiencies globally across products, regions and the enterprise as a whole.

She also serves as Chairman of Citi Venture Capital Initiatives, seeking investment opportunities and overseeing the development and enhancement of Citi’s relationships with the global venture capital community. This role was created with the intention of increasing collaboration and engagement with venture capital firms, startup companies and corporate partners, both in mature and emerging markets.

Since joining Citi in 2003, Ms. Hopkins has held multiple senior positions with the company. She was previously the Head of Corporate Strategy, Mergers & Acquisitions, Chief Operations & Technology Officer and also served as Co-Chair of Citi’s Women’s Initiative.

Prior to joining Citi, Ms. Hopkins held various leadership roles that included Chief Financial Officer for The Boeing Company and for Lucent Technologies, as well as Vice President of Finance for General Motors Europe.

Ms. Hopkins serves on the Advisory Board of Riverwood Partners, is a Board Member at QlikTech Inc., and was a member of the Board of Directors for DuPont from 2000 to 2005.

Fortune magazine named Ms. Hopkins one of the most powerful women in American business, and in 2011 she was named to Institutional Investors top Tech 50 list.

Ms. Hopkins has a B.S. in Accounting from Walsh College, and received an honorary doctorate from Westminster College.


Citigroup Inc. – Chief Innovation Officer, Chairman of Venture Capital Initiatives

Sector Focus:

Investment banking, information technology, Finance, telecommunications, aerospace, automotive.


Riverwood Partners
QlikTech Inc.

Expertise areas:

Innovation, research and development, venture capital, creativity, accounting, startups, business development, corporate strategy, mergers and acquisitions.

Websites & Social Media:

Company Website

Memorable Quotes:

On Citi’s corporate venturing approach: “Last year, we looked at 642 startups and invested in 8 of them. But it isn’t the investment that’s the core. It’s the 642 transactions with people who are intensely passionate about their idea.”

On moving the Citi Ventures team to Palo Alto, California: “I had a smaller team based primarily in New York, and then I had a breakthrough in 2009. I was in Silicon Valley at Kleiner Perkins listening to the chief executive of Shopkick, Cyriac Roeding. I was blown away by this young man whose view of the world was not limited by the way things are today, but was focused on how things should be tomorrow. I remember saying in the parking lot: ‘this is crazy. We need to be out here.’ I shared this instinct with our leadership and they liked it. So we based the Citi Ventures team in Palo Alto in early 2010.”

On coming to the innovation role at Citi: “In 2008, when the focus in the banking industry was putting out the fire, Don Callahan [Citi’s chief technology and operations officer, to whom Hopkins reports] and Vikram Pandit asked me to be Citi’s chief innovation officer. The key goals were to help establish innovation as a core capability central to the company’s strategy and return Citi to being the world’s most innovative bank.”

On working with professional investors: “Bring in professional investors to help you. It is different from being a strong financial person. It is important to have people good at looking at multiple forms of innovation, thinking which one of these business models make sense.”


About the author: Dan Kauffman

Dan Kauffman recently graduated from Rutgers University in NJ with a BA in Journalism and Media Studies. Dan is now pursuing a career in the journalism field.

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