" Sylvia Ionita, Digital Finance Function Award nominee, has always been a “finance person”.

By Olivia Wing, Customer Success Manager, GENCFO

Sylvia Ionita



Her career has led her through different finance, accounting and controlling positions, in large organisations and start ups.

“I love numbers, I like calculating stuff, so it was pretty clear that I’d end up in some kind of finance position."

Joining waterdrop®

Sylvia had known of waterdrop® for quite a while before working there, as she passed by one of its beautiful kiosks almost every day.

The company has a clear vision, in simple words: “getting rid of plastic bottles and drinking more water.”

“Our core products are little cubes made of fruit and herb extracts to be put in water that will dissolve to add taste, vitamins and functionality.”

Sylvia was fascinated by the product and the company. 

“I had a hidden feeling for years that I wanted to change something, but I'm not a founder - I did want to have an impact at some point, and with waterdrop® I can.”

Starting from scratch

When Sylvia joined, the finance processes were external and very basic: “it was definitely a challenge back then, and it didn't really get easier.”

“Our tax expert joined the month after me. Together, we started building up finance, enforcing accounting and growing the team.”

This in itself was difficult, because many of the applicants didn’t fit in.

“The perception is that you don't have to be that precise in a startup, just get things done - but accounting has to be accurate.” 

It wasn’t just accountants that they struggled to find, but controllers too.

“They're young people with a young mindset. It was about the fun of joining a startup for them, which I do get, because we have an amazing company culture. But you still have to do your job.”

Sylvia’s leadership advice

You can be the best one in your field of expertise, says Sylvia, but that doesn't automatically make you a good leader.

“You need a certain personality, you have to really take care of other people, and of course, be an expert to some extent - but you don't have to be the expert for the whole area.”

Sylvia, along with many other leaders, practises remote leadership to some extent. One way she does this efficiently is by spending time with those she leads, as they have to be in the office at the same time for several days a month.

“At least once a year, spend a few days with your direct and dotted line reports. When you sit together, you can show them you are on the same side and it gets so much easier.”

Working with different countries and cultures

In her career, Sylvia has liaised with teams in several countries. This taught her how to work with different cultures - but she says “it's definitely challenging”. Different cultures can have a totally different mentality. 

Sylvia emphasises the importance of understanding those you are working with, so they can understand what you need from them.

“This might be challenging, sometimes even frustrating, but for me, that turned out to be the best way to do it.

Recently promoted to CFO, Sylvia has big plans for her teams

“We have a controlling team and an accounting team,” Sylvia says - but she wants to create more to manage each area of the finance function.

“I want to establish a tax team, as we’re in so many countries and taxes are getting trickier, and a treasury team to take care of things like cash pooling and cash management systems.”

There are also individual positions she’d like to insource, including a treasurer, an ESG person and more accountants. 

Sylvia’s plans truly reflect the “fast growing” future of waterdrop®.

Want to nominate someone for the Digital Finance Function Awards? Click here.

Power Profile

What music inspires you?

"I love Latin Caribbean music, as I’m a salsa dancer, amateur of course. So there has to be some Latin energy, something with power, energy and joy."

Who is your hero?

"There are people I admire for different reasons, our CEO Martin Murray for being such an inspiration, and my former CFO as she was - in my eyes - the perfect mix between professionalism and accessibility or one of my dearest and longest friends for being the kindest and most generous person in spite of all the struggles she had to overcome."


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Olivia Wing, Customer Success Manager, GENCFO

Olivia is an author at GENCFO as well as being the Community Success Manager. Read her articles on everything from events, agility, hot topics in finance and interviews with key finance and accounting industry figures.

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