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Change must be a part of the DNA of a business if it is to be successful, says Dynshaw Italia, CFO at spend management platform Soldo, who has navigated his fair share of transformation throughout his career. 

“In a fast growing business, change is continuous,” says Dynshaw. “In today’s world, you never stand still, you always have to adapt to survive and be successful. The only thing that is constant is change.

“It comes from the inherent desire to keep improving, finding ways to be more efficient.”

In order to effectively ride through this transformation, Dynshaw says businesses need to have: “Constant communication, the right philosophy, be encouraged to innovate and to accept failure – as long as you learn from it.”

These are lessons Dynshaw has learned throughout his career which has spanned nearly 30 years in finance. 

Dynshaw’s career beginnings

He describes himself as “lucky” when it comes to his career, as very early on he was exposed to everything from accounts, to audit, tax and business modeling. 

“I started off as a sole practitioner, and you get to see the whole picture when you’re dealing with a small firm,” he says. 

“But then I went to the other extreme and worked for KPMG for a number of years in financial services, auditing banks.”

“So in effect, I got the full spectrum of experience from working across multi discipline areas, and across different company sizes, from very small to very large.”

But, it was in 1999 that Dynshaw really cut his teeth in a financial director role – in a period of great change in the form of the .com boom. 

“I got the opportunity to join ebookers as their fifth employee,” he says. 

“I became CFO – but in those days it was called finance director – at the peak of the .com boom.” 

“We listed on Nasdaq and on the German market. And it went from something like zero to nearly a billion dollars of revenue and 3,000 people in a very short period of time. We became the largest online travel agency in Europe.”

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Change requires trust

This experience was a “rollercoaster”, according to Dynshaw, including sometimes having to take counterintuitive decisions. 

“One really interesting thing that we did was we kept the physical shops,” says Dynshaw. “We acquired a lot of offline travel agencies and the idea was to bring travel online, but we kept the bricks and mortar presence in every location.” 

This idea turned out to be crucial, as consumers wanted to feel that they could walk into a store and complain if they needed, or double check their booking – it helped build trust in a period of transition for many consumers who were used to buying in person. 

“It gave them the comfort to make the purchase,” says Dynshaw. 

From ebookers, Dynshaw then moved on to drinks brand Cobra, where he was both COO and CFO for seven years, and is still involved as a Non Executive Director. 

“We built it into a household name,” says Dynshaw. 

“It was all about innovation, doing things better, changing the marketplace forever.” 

“Whether it was inventing the big bottle – which was a marketing tool we came up with because you’re forced to leave it on the table to share and then everyone comes in and sees the bottle and is like, I’ll order one too – or innovation within finance.”

“I believed every asset on your balance sheet can generate working capital. We created a totally new, different product with a bank to help extend supplier credit and create extra working capital within the business.” 

Growing further

After a few more career moves, Dynshaw took the role of CFO at Soldo at the start of the pandemic, and has just completed one of the largest Series C fundings in the sector, for $180 million. 

He only ever sees himself working for entrepreneurial businesses that grow fast and want to scale up. 

“These are businesses that are exciting, they’re challenging, they keep you on your toes,” says Dynshaw. 

“I love my role,” says Dynshaw. 

“I enjoy the entire CFO function. I would never be a CEO because I’d have to give up the CFO function.”

“In Soldo, it has the added bonus of the product being so closely linked to finance, so there’s an added dimension of being able to test new products and new features and be part of the product development phase as well. We strive to add more things that will benefit us as a company and as a result will benefit our customers.” 

Dynshaw’s Power Profile

What music empowers him?

“I love movie soundtracks. I think a great soundtrack really enhances a movie, for example music by Hans Zimmer in all the Christopher Nolan movies like Inception or The Dark Knight.

“If I look at my playlists, the two songs that are always on there are Hotel California, (live acoustic version) by the Eagles, and Come Undone by Duran Duran.”

Who is his hero?

“I’m generally inspired by people around me and the strength and ability of people who deal with all kinds of adversity. And, while I don’t call them heroes, there are a few people who do inspire me. Satya Nadella and how he shaped Microsoft, Elon Musk and the way his mind works, and Rafael Nadal for how he conducts himself, the way he plays tennis and always gives 100% never giving up.”

 

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