On the Road with Debby Hopkins, Innovation TrailBlazer.

A look into the stories behind some of the most successful innovators of this century

calendar icon July 17, 2020

We started the On the Road podcast series with the intention of getting an in-depth look into the stories behind some of the most successful innovators of this century, and how they were able to blaze a new trail — sometimes against very steep odds.

I had the pleasure to speak with Debby Hopkins during a trip to Wyoming. Debby has a truly unique perspective on innovation and the changes that have taken place in large enterprises over the last couple of decades. She’s seen those changes across multiple industries, including aerospace, telecom equipment, financial services, transportation and consulting. She’s experienced them through the lens of serving multiple leadership roles within some of the world’s largest companies, including CFO of both Boeing and Lucent. After moving to financial services, Debby founded and was CEO of Citi Ventures and was ultimately Citi’s first Chief Innovation Officer. In that role, she built a world-class team, grew a strong global ecosystem, and did the hard work of culture change.

In our far-reaching conversation, we touched on what it was like to be in Silicon Valley in the early 2000s when a lot of big companies didn’t really understand how to effectively work with the startup ecosystem to drive innovation. She shares how she built Citi Ventures into one of the largest and most respected corporate venture programs, and what she learned along the way.

Debby also peppers the conversation with some advice for managers and executives who are just starting their journey to build a startup ecosystem, as well as sage guidance for those who’ve seen some success, but are struggling with how to scale.

I hope you enjoy the conversation. Watch a short snippet, or you can settle in and watch the full video here. I’m certain you’ll consider the time well spent!