Podcasts

Citi Ventures’ Vanessa Colella: ‘No one runs innovation, it’s all about unleashing it’

  • Citi's focus on innovation combines internal programs with a venture investing arm.
  • Vanessa Colella is the bank's Chief Innovation Officer and she joins us on the podcast this week.
close

Email a Friend

As one of the largest financial institutions in the world, Citi takes its innovation efforts seriously. Combining internal and external models of collaboration with a disciplined corporate venture arm, the financial services giant ensures that it has a lot of coals in the innovation fire.

Leading those efforts is Vanessa Colella. Vanessa runs Citi Ventures and is the Chief Innovation Officer at Citi. In my talk with Vanessa, we explore how Citi combines internal and external innovation and what role venture investing plays in the overall mix. For her, all this talk and activity around innovation addresses something very simple: how to get the best results for Citi’s clients.

Vanessa Colella is our guest today on the Tearsheet Podcast.

SubscribeiTunes I SoundCloud

Below are highlights from the episode, edited for clarity.

You are both Chief Innovation Officer and also run Citi Ventures. What’s your mandate?
My role entails a variety of things, from our venture capital equity investing on a global basis — that’s about bringing the outside in and staying on top technology and new developments in fintech — to working with our internal innovation labs and external and academic partners.

How do you encourage innovation within the organization?
We also run a program at Citi Ventures called D10X, which stands for discovering exponentially better solutions for our customers. We bring the same principles of entrepreneurship and ingenuity into a 206 year old company to unlock the promise of how our employees know they can best serve our clients. Innovation isn’t one single point or approach. We’ve greatly benefited from the perspective that it’s both about internally what we can do to drive better solutions for our clients as well as externally understanding what’s happening in the marketplace, what entrepreneurs are doing and where technology is moving. Sometimes people ask me if I run innovation as the Chief Innovation Officer. No one runs innovation. It’s really about unlocking the creativity and promise of what all our hundreds of thousands of employees bring to work every day to unleash that to drive results for our clients.

What are you looking to accomplish with your corporate venture investing?
We’re strategic investors, so we’re doing this to understand and participate in the technology ecosystem driving change. This isn’t something you can be an observer of. It’s something you have to get in the game and work with entrepreneurs. Our mantra has always been to champion our entrepreneurs, to help them scale their businesses quickly and efficiently. This approach is different than a lot of corporate venture capital firms who think a lot about finding entrepreneurs who can help the parent company. We’ve learned that a company as large and diverse as ours can have enough demands on an entrepreneur and a startup that they can’t keep up. Instead, we find that we’re able to work with them to scale their businesses. It can turn out that they become partners of ours or we’re able to help the launch into new markets.

What drives success in equity investing for Citi Ventures?
It’s two-fold. We understand that venture is both an art and a science. So, we judge success in the strategic impact an investment has on our firm and our clients, as well as the ultimate success as our companies. Today companies in our portfolio employee over 10,000 people.

0 comments on “Citi Ventures’ Vanessa Colella: ‘No one runs innovation, it’s all about unleashing it’”

Podcasts

‘We see more and more nonprofits adopt the fintech model’: Prudential Financial’s Sarah Keh

  • Large financial organizations are increasing their work in their communities and with inclusivity.
  • Prudential's Sarah Keh joins us on the podcast to talk about her work with nonprofits and the city of Newark, New Jersey.
Zachary Miller | October 14, 2021
Podcasts

Embedding communications into financial services with Twilio’s Bijon Mehta

  • Twilio's embedded communications tools work behind the scenes in many of today's top fintechs and FIs.
  • Bijon Mehta, who leads the firm's work in financial services, joins us on the podcast to shed some light on where the firm grows from here.
Zachary Miller | September 21, 2021
Data, Podcasts

‘Data aggregation is used today in ways we wouldn’t have thought about five years ago’: Fiserv’s Kevin Hughes

  • Fiserv enables banks, credit unions, and fintechs to aggregate data seamlessly and securely.
  • Kevin Hughes, who manages the AllData products, talks to Tearsheet about changes in the aggregation field and where it's heading.
Fiserv | September 09, 2021
Podcasts

Behind the launch of the Dayforce Wallet: Ceridian’s Seth Ross

  • As a payroll provider, Ceridian moves $300 billion in wages yearly.
  • Seth Ross, who runs the firm's embedded finance group, joins the podcast to talk about Ceridian's move into banking and early wage access.
Zachary Miller | September 08, 2021
Podcasts

‘We bring the instant gratification from the lottery to help incentivize people to save’: Adam Moelis, Yotta

Zachary Miller | September 01, 2021
More Articles