McKinsey alumnus Niels Christiansen new CEO of LEGO Group

15 September 2017 2 min. read
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Former McKinsey consultant Niels B. Christiansen will be hoping to build a bright future at Lego, as he takes up the role of CEO at the Danish toy company. Lego, whose brand has expanded from simple plastic blocks to include video games and hit movies in recent years, has a storied history with McKinsey, having been revived by the firm from the brink of bankruptcy in 2000.

The Danish toy giant Lego has appointed Niels B. Christiansen as CEO. Christiansen replaces Bali Padda, 61, a long-standing LEGO Group executive, who will assume a special advisory role with LEGO Brand Group. Padda, who has been with the Lego Group family for the past 15 years, was praised by the company for his role in the turnaround of LEGO during his time as CEO, having taken the helm shortly after LEGO had sought the aid of McKinsey & Company. The group was then suffering financial hardship amid early forms of digital disruption, as traditional toys struggled to compete with new technology-centred products.

Lego’s Board of Executives, meanwhile, confirmed 51 year old Christiansen as his successor far more rapidly than expected. According to Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, Executive Chairman of LEGO Brand Group, “[Christiansen’s] 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.”

Niels Christiansen - CEO of Lego Group

Christiansen was most recently CEO of global industrial technology company, Danfoss, a position he held for nine years until June 2017. With broad experience leading large, global high-tech companies, he joined Danfoss in 2004 as Executive Vice President and a member of the Executive Committee, before becoming Chief Operating Officer in 2005, and Vice-CEO in 2006.

The new Lego CEO has spent more than 25 years in business leadership, beginning his career at management consulting industry heavyweights McKinsey & Company, before stints at Hilti Corp as Vice President Corporate Development, and GN Netcom, where he reached the role of President & CEO in 2000. In 2003, he was appointed Group Executive Vice President at GN Store Nord.

Christiansen remains as Chairman of the Board of William Demant Holding A/S and Axcel and a Member of the Board of AP Møller-Maersk A/S and Technical University of Denmark (DTU).

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."