As part of the LEGO Group’s second annual Fan Media Event, Bali Padda – CEO of the LEGO Group – sat down with representatives of fan media outlets, including Brick Fanatics, for a frank chat. The informal conversation allowed the gathered attendees from worldwide LEGO websites and publications to put questions and ideas to the CEO, who was honest and thoughtful in every response.
Bali opened the conversation by flattering the LEGO super fans present, acknowledging that the product knowledge the assembled group had put his to shame. Whilst only in his position as CEO since December 2016, Padda is in his 15th year with the LEGO Group. For the past 10 years he has been regularly commuting from the UK to Denmark. ‘It’s a very egalitarian culture. I like the frankness of the people, it’s very non-hierarchal and I really enjoy that.’
When Bali found himself taking on the role of CEO, it was not something he had expected – at 61 years old, he had been preparing for retirement. The Kristiansen family had discussed restructuring the company, as Jørgen Vig Knudstorp was becoming distracted by ‘none-core business’. It made sense given the LEGO Group’s growth to make the change and appoint Knudstorp as CEO of the newly formed LEGO Brand Group and for Padda to take on the LEGO Group. ‘If you ask my wife she’ll say I’m a lot busier than I ever was before,’ he laughed.
‘My favourite theme is Technic,’ Padda said, to the delight of the Technic fan site reporters present. ‘Born in India, growing up I never had access to LEGO.’ It was a chance trip to Toys R Us that saw Padda pick up a LEGO Technic remote control car that appealed to him. ‘I remember building it and getting annoyed that my son wanted to join in,’ he smiled. The largest set the CEO has built is 10189 Taj Mahal, which he found time-consuming thanks to the many similarly coloured pieces. A few rare items, such as bespoke sets developed for factory openings, are part of his personal collection.
More recently, Padda has particularly enjoyed BrickHeadz, which he described as ‘a fascinating build’. Although his role at the top of the company keeps him busy, the LEGO leader still finds time to do a little building. He chooses the mid-sized LEGO sets to build, as they are the best-selling and give him the opportunity to experience the set in the same way that the end consumer does.
The CEO was asked what he hopes to accomplish in his new role. ‘For me it’s the leadership preparation for 2025,’ he reiterated. ‘Getting the right foundation, getting us ready for the future. Making sure from a leadership perspective we are agile, that we can be adaptable.’
Given the pressure that must come with taking on such a high profile position, it is nice to hear that the man in charge of the LEGO Group has past experience in putting the pieces together – and still finds the time for a little building too.