Niels B. Christiansen announced as incoming LEGO CEO

The LEGO Group Board of Directors has appointed Niels B. Christiansen as CEO, replacing Bali Padda who has held the position for less than a year.

Niels B. Christiansen is an external appointment to the role of the LEGO Group’s CEO, having held the position at Danfoss – a company also founded and based in Denmark – for nine years. He will take on the role from October 1.

Bali Padda, who as recently as May was discussing developing the next generation of LEGO leaders internally during the LEGO Fan Media Days, has moved to a special advisory role with LEGO Brand Group.

The press release provides quotes and more information on the incoming CEO’s background:

Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, Executive Chairman of LEGO Brand Group said, ‘Niels is a great leader who delivered outstanding results while CEO of Danfoss. There, he transformed a traditional industrial company into a technology leader. His experience in digitalisation and globalisation, implementing a transformative strategy, and creating an agile, high performing, international team will benefit the LEGO Group. The Board is confident that under Niels, the LEGO Group will continue to flourish and bring play experiences to more children around the world.’ Knudstorp said the transition to a new CEO occurred more rapidly than the Board had anticipated.

“Bali has been part of the LEGO Group family for the past 15 years. He played an integral role in the turnaround of the LEGO Group and during his time as CEO created a solid foundation from which to continue to transform the company. He is a great friend and a wonderful ambassador for the LEGO® brand,” said Knudstorp.

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With the LEGO Group’s growth slowing, and the creation of the LEGO Brand Group to oversee new areas of the business, there is the perception that course correction is required if the company is to adapt to its new, dominant role in the global toy market. It is likely that Christiansen has been appointed to determine the strategy going forward.

Niels B. Christiansen has spent more than 25 years in business leadership.  He began his career at management consultancy, McKinsey and power tools manufacturer, Hilti, and became CEO of GN Netcom aged 33.  He joined Danfoss in 2004 and became CEO in 2008.  During his tenure, the company doubled in size to 39 billion DKK, increased its global footprint and transformed its portfolio in response to changing customer demands. Danfoss is a family-owned, Danish-based global technology company which specializes in infrastructure, food supply, energy efficiency and climate-friendly technology solutions.

Christiansen said: “I am honoured to have the opportunity to join an organisation as iconic and purpose-driven as the LEGO Group. I have loved building with LEGO bricks since I was a child. As I look at the challenges facing this generation of children, the Group’s mission, to inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow, is more important and urgent than ever. I am looking forward to working with the Board, the family and the LEGO Group team as we embark on the next phase of global growth.”

The parallels between Danfoss and the LEGO Group – both being founded and run from Denmark, going on to become global businesses and run by the founding family – are clear. Fans will now be able to wait and see whether this helps the new CEO stay put in the role for a full year.

LEGO SYSTEM A/S

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