Vanessa Colella

Vanessa Colella

Chief Innovation Officer, Citi, Head of Citi Ventures & Citi Productivity

"It cannot be done. I told Wilbur that and I told Orville that and now I am telling you that." —Anonymous


Corporate Development, Strategic Partnerships, Mobile Payments, Emerging Payments, Entrepreneurship, Education, Venture Capital, Marketing


Vanessa Colella is Citi's Chief Innovation Officer and leads the Citi Ventures and Citi Productivity teams. Vanessa's goal is to accelerate and discover new sources of value by championing innovation so that Citi can compete more effectively in a world of technological, behavioral, and societal change. The Citi Ventures team drives innovation by exploring, incubating, and investing in new ideas and partnering with category-defining startups to help people, business and communities thrive. The Citi Productivity team works to transform the employee experience by leveraging the power of process simplification, operating model redesign, and new technologies to help Citi increase efficiency and effectiveness.

Before assuming the role of Chief Innovation Officer, Vanessa ran marketing for Citi's North American Consumer Bank. She joined Citibank in 2010 from U.S. Venture Partners (USVP), where she was an entrepreneur-in-residence. Prior to USVP, Vanessa was Head of NA Marketing and then SVP of Insights at Yahoo, where she was responsible for developing and executing the company’s consumer data strategy. She was previously a Partner at McKinsey & Company and a junior high and high school science teacher.

In 2021, Vanessa was honored as a “Standout” on American Banker’s Most Powerful Women list, was named a 2021 BIG Innovation Award Winner, and was recognized by Innovation Leader as one of the “Most Influential Innovators.” She received a Silver Stevie Award in 2020 for her work as a champion of innovation, has been recognized on the Global Corporate Venturing Powerlist in 2017, 2018, and 2019, and was named to Institutional Investor's Fintech Finance list from 2015 to 2018. Her work conceiving and launching CitiBike led Citi to win Advertising Age’s 2013 Creativity Award and the Gold Pencil in 2014.

Vanessa sits on the Board of the National Venture Capital Association and serves as a member of the Corporation’s Visiting Committee for the M.I.T. Media Lab. She is also a Board Member for the La Scuola International School in San Francisco and recently joined Chief, a women’s leadership network, as a founding member in San Francisco.

Vanessa received her Ph.D. from M.I.T.'s Media Lab as well masters' degrees from both Columbia University and M.I.T and an S.B. degree in molecular biology from M.I.T. A charter member of Teach for America, she is a published author and lecturer, taught courses at the Santa Fe Institute, and previously served as a research fellow at Rockefeller University. She resides in San Francisco with her husband and son.