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IT Leadership // CIO Insights & Innovation
11:04 PM
John Soat
John Soat

CIO: A Lot To Live Up To

Especially if it stands for "Chief Innovation Officer," which is what Citi has in mind for the acronym. Is it a corporate turning point or management hocus-pocus?

Especially if it stands for "Chief Innovation Officer," which is what Citi has in mind for the acronym. Is it a corporate turning point or management hocus-pocus?Last week, banking powerhouse Citigroup appointed Deborah Hopkins to the new position of Chief Innovation Officer. According to a statement by the company, "This new role will bring together the strategy, information technology, and research and development to drive cross-business, client-focused innovation across the company."

Redundancy notwithstanding, it's an impressive-sounding position, and one that most -- if not all -- companies would kill to be able to afford.

Hopkins has an equally impressive resumé. She joined Citi in 2002 as head of corporate strategy, mergers, and acquisitions. From 2003 to 2005, Hopkins served as both Chief Operations and Technology Officer and Chief Information Security Officer for the bank.

Before being involved in technology, Hopkins was a finance person, holding the CFO job at Boeing and Lucent, and before that, VP of finance for General Motors Europe, along with being a member of GM's European Strategy board.

It's noteworthy that, since 2005, Hopkins has been managing director of Citi's Institutional Clients Group, advising investment banking clients, a position she will continue to hold, according to the company.

That's a lot to ask anybody to do: drive cross-business, cross-company innovation and at the same time continue to advise the company's most important banking customers. Here's Citi's more detailed description of the chief innovation officer role:

Ms. Hopkins will be responsible for developing and leading Citi's approach to creative, forward-looking collaboration with external constituencies, including current and prospective clients, venture capital firms, government agencies, and academic institutions. She also will create and direct methods to maximize the internal creativity of Citi's newly reorganized corporate structure with the goal of creating operating efficiencies across global products, regions and the enterprise as a whole.

Global, collaborative, forward-looking, creative -- those are all the right concepts, and ones that all CIOs -- and by that I mean chief information officers -- should be constantly cognizant of infusing their corporate IT strategies with. IT is a change agent, and the role of technology in business innovation can't be underestimated. It's encouraging to note Citi's acknowledgment of that role, both in its description of the Chief Innovation Officer's job and in its appointment of a person with experience in IT to that position.

I'm not doubting that Citi is serious about innovation. I'm just wondering how serious Hopkins can be about it when it's only a part-time job.

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