Gijsbert de Zoeten is an accomplished business executive from the Netherlands. Throughout his entire career, he’s worked for major companies, including Unilever, LeasePlan, and Inchcape. During this time, he spent 15 years as a Chief Financial Officer (CFO).
Leading Financial Executive
Shortly after graduating from University of Groningen with a Master’s Degree in Business Administration in 1989, Gijsbert de Zoeten embarked on a Unilever career that would eventually span 27 years. Between 1989 and 2002, he climbed the ladder by working in various roles within the company. In 2002, he was appointed Financial Director of Unilever Foods Brazil.
De Zoeten was successful with this project and several more before landing his first executive role at Unilever in 2008 as CFO of the global Foodsolutions business (B2B). In 2010, he became the European CFO of the company. During his time at Unilever, he was given the chance to gain significant operational experience in global markets.
It was during his time at Unilever that De Zoeten began to see sustainability as an accelerator for growth. He was involved in Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan in 2010. In his tenure as European CFO (2010-2016), he helped reshape the company’s memorandum.
Unilever now openly operates with a sustainable business model. In particular, they integrate innovation with sustainability to come up with new and more efficient solutions.
In 2016, De Zoeten left Unilever for LeasePlan, a sustainability and innovation-driven vehicle leasing company purchased by Private Equity. This was a natural transition for him, yet it still brought fresh challenges. He helped take the company from a multi-local company to an international integrated business that’s now worth approximately $5 billion.
He also took on sustainability challenges. During his time at LeasePlan, he was involved in the company’s transition to 100% emission-free mobility. He left the role at the end of 2018.
In 2019, Gijsbert de Zoeten joined Inchcape PLC , a London-based distributor for the automotive industry operating in 30+ countries as Group CFO. He was successful in several major projects.
When Inchcape came under pressure during the unexpected COVID pandemic, De Zoeten guided the company safely through this difficult time through various strategic cost-saving measures and stringent cash management.
He also played a pivotal role in developing and communicating the revised company strategy with a renewed emphasis on acquisitions. He helped increase the share price and enhanced investor perception of the company. He spearheaded the acquisition strategy completing several smaller acquisitions and the landmark acquisition of the leading Latin American distributor Derco for £1.3billion. After three years at Inchcape, he ended his tenure in 2022.
A Future of Sustainable Growth and Leadership
Gijsbert de Zoeten’s track record in Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) and automotive industries (B2B and B2C), indicates his abilities to adapt and thrive in different environments.
Having successfully led major companies in adopting sustainable and innovative strategies, there’s proof of his theory that sustainability can accelerate growth. His results in mergers and acquisitions are also an excellent indication of his flexibility in a wide range of business environments.
He is now open to new opportunities in the market in both commercial and not-for-profit sectors. His experience and drive ensure he’s ideally suited to a full-time executive position or as an active board member.