My "Tenacity" Led to My Progress
By Deborah Hopkins, CEO, Citi Ventures and Chief Innovation Officer, Citi March 09, 2015 12:00 PM
To celebrate International Women’s Day, Deborah Hopkins, CEO, Citi Ventures and Chief Innovation Officer, Citi, shares her story about the defining characteristic that led to her progress.
Early in my career at a well-known B2B company, I was asked to take on a new responsibility – not part of my job description at the time – and navigate a possible bankruptcy. There was a consortium of more than 20 banks advocating for a Chapter 11 filing of our company, and I was assigned to create a convincing story of why we were worth more alive than dead. I went home that day thinking I had no idea where to start; it felt like I had been pushed into the deep end but didn’t know how to swim.
Defining moments in our lives, whether professional or personal, often don’t come with a checklist or roadmap. I realized that I had two choices: flounder and let other people drive the outcome, or embrace this challenge and test solutions. So I called my team, and together we created a financial plan rooted in the company’s holistic values. We pitched this case to the bankers, and we all achieved a better outcome than had we filed for bankruptcy.
This was just one of many moments when I’ve learned the power of tenacity. Tenacity empowers us to pick ourselves up when we face adversity, and it focuses us when we are driving toward a challenging mission. As women, embracing this determination is critical, as is supporting each other. Often women feel like they need to fit into certain criteria or standards – many of which we self-impose. Rather, our success lies in supporting each other to step into the unknown, push our boundaries and redefine our own limitations.
When I took my role at Citi Ventures, my professional path changed again. The challenges were new and different: How do you accelerate innovation across an established institution like Citi, with a 200-year track record? How do you find the best way to embrace the changing financial services landscape?
What drew me to Silicon Valley and what is most exciting about this new challenge is the relentless curiosity, the passion for embracing bold ideas and harnessing emerging technologies. In my role today, again, there is no playbook, and it is the best challenge of my career. Learning how and when to push, and how to navigate the unknown is exciting and helps me to hone my tenacity daily. This trait is what enabled me to make it here, is what empowers me to seek progress for Citi, and is reinforced by the dedication of our collaborations across the company.