We are hugely excited to be welcoming Alex Goodway to the Dawn team as our new CFO.
Alex joins us from Kindred Capital, where she was among the firm’s earliest employees and built up its finance and operations functions from scratch over a six-year tenure. A CFA Charterholder, Alex initially worked as an Investment Associate at family office Alta Advisers before diving into the world of venture at Kindred. Alex’s strategic perspectives and expertise will be critical in ensuring our continued success, and we’re thrilled that she will be joining our Investment Committee as well as leading our finance team and strategy.
We sat down with Alex to talk about everything from her unusual degree in Land Economy, to why she was attracted to VC, and her favourite TV shows.
What drew you to a venture CFO role?
I’ve always been quite a generalist. I studied Land Economy at Cambridge, which is a hodge-podge of everything — accounting, economics, law, and the study of the built environment — and coming out of uni I had no idea what I wanted to do. The opportunity to work at Alta Advisers was amazing, because it was a chance to learn about so many different industries from an investment point of view. Around three years into my career at Alta, I ended up working more in the VC space, and that was just at the point when venture was really starting to take off in Europe. I was hooked, and when the chance came up to work as Head of Finance at Kindred, I realised this role was the right one for me.
And why Dawn?
So many things. Dawn’s reputation within the European landscape is unparalleled when it comes to building value, being self analytical, and being introspective about how to get better over time. Here no one is standing still, everyone is running towards the next iteration all the time, and I thought it would be super exciting to be a part of that.
Also, coming from the finance perspective you look closely at the LP side of things, and Dawn’s LP base is really exemplary, and has been built up over years, which is a great sign.
Another big factor for me was how female-led the team is at Dawn, and how diverse the firm is generally. Kindred was also very female-led, and I wanted to stay in that sort of environment. There are still so few female CFOs generally — I’ve sat in meetings and attended too many events where I’m the only female CFO at the table. Overall I think venture is more diverse than many other sectors, but Dawn’s level of representation still stands out.
What does being the CFO at a venture fund look like in 2023?
I guess one of the main things to say about the role is that no two days are the same. The role is much broader than most people expect, and looks at all the different facets of the business. For example, how do we interact with our LPs (our shareholders), our portfolio companies (our customers), and with the Dawn investment team? How can we optimise across those stakeholders, and ensure their interaction with Dawn is excellent from beginning to end? How can we make ourselves more efficient?
Dawn just raised $700m in new funds, so we’re growing, and it’s about how we keep growing in the best and most efficient way possible — just as we encourage our companies to do. I’m planning to really leverage technology to enhance and optimise our operational processes, and to work closely with our IR and investment teams on an ongoing basis to help us deliver that going forward.
Now for our GTKY quick-fire round….
Where did you grow up and whereabouts are you based now?
I grew up near St Andrews in Scotland, then moved down to Cambridge when I was 18 for university, then later to London. Now I live near Sevenoaks in Kent and really enjoy being near nature.
What are your favourite things to do in your free time?
Running, diving, and cooking!
What’s your favourite dish to cook?
Ooh that’s hard. I think lasagne, I really feel like lasagne at the moment — it’s a great winter’s dinner.
Tell us a bit about your TV watching habits…
I re-watched all of Game of Thrones on holiday between leaving Kindred and joining Dawn, and I love Succession. But mostly you can find me watching anything rugby or tennis-related.
How would your friends describe you in one word?
To end the piece, it would be brilliant if you could share the best piece of advice you’ve ever received.
So many jump to mind here! I think the main one is to be kind and generous to people where you can, because you don’t always know what’s going on with someone behind the scenes. A little bit of kindness can go a long way if someone’s having a bad day.
Another thing — an outlook someone shared with me quite recently when I was thinking of joining Dawn — has also stayed with me. It was: everyone always thinks about the opportunity cost of moving jobs, but not of staying put. In other words, it can seem scary to make a career change because of all of the “unknowns” that the move involves. But it’s important to also consider the cost to you if you don’t change career; the cost of not meeting those new people, not learning new things, and not growing as much as a person. That approach helped me take a leap, and I’m so glad I did.