Amy Radin: The Venture Capitalist

In March, at age 47, Citigroup Chief Innovation Officer Amy Radin gave birth to her third child. She had broken the news of her pregnancy to CEO Chuck Prince this way: "It's innovative and disruptive," she told him. "But it's not scalable." That's classic Radin. Half Brooklyn wisecracker, half deadpanning banker. At the time, the company had just announced that innovation was a new strategic goal and that Radin would lead the effort. The job followed her tour de force as head of, which she built into a top online credit card site.

Today she's crafting her role at Citigroup in the fashion of a Silicon Valley venture capitalist. With strong backing from Prince, Radin is building a portfolio of small, ethnographically derived and metric-proven innovation ideas. Like any good VC, Radin expects some to fail. But that's good. "We are building failure into the model," says Radin. It's the VC model -- diversify your assets and see which hits.

One of Radin's first plays will appear in New York this summer: Citi PayPass. New Yorkers are time-starved speed-seekers. So Citi has developed a payment tag that is an E-Z pass for the subway turnstile. Radin deliberately kicked off Citi's innovation mission with PayPass because she knew it would be a small, early win. Racking up early wins is key to getting widespread buy in. Radin has trials in the pipeline for phones embedded with a debit-card chip as well as individual wands -- either could one day take the place of paper cash in an economy of virtual money. Says Radin, "The point is to position the portfolio so that, no matter which way things go, Citi is covered."

Amy Radin

Chief Innovation Officer


5:30 a.m. Wake up

6:15 a.m. Leave for work via New Jersey Transit

Read, send/answer e-mails via Blackberry while on train

7:30 a.m. Arrive at work

7:30-8:80 a.m. Conference call with Asia Pacific contact on systems requirements for upcoming concept pilot

8:30-9:30 a.m. Respond to voicemails, review budget status to date

9:30-11:00 a.m. Meet with head of a Consumer Group business and his senior team to discuss innovation opportunities and a potential pilot later in the year

11:00-12:00 p.m. Meet with technology vendor for a potential joint partnership

12:00-12:30 p.m. Grab lunch, read/distribute 1-2 relevant articles/postings

12:30-1:00 p.m. Review some of the innovation ideas submitted by Citi employees, parse out to team for review

1:00-3:00 p.m. Participate in brainstorming mtg. w/team to drive an idea to tangible concept

3:00-3:45 p.m. Present the innovation vision to global consumer senior leader meeting via videoconference

4:00-5:00 p.m. Review latest results from consumer insights research

5-5:30 p.m. Leave work

Check/respond to messages on BlackBerry, catch up on reading during commute

Evenings Spend time with family, review documents related to next day's work

    Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.