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A global company
with a local approach

management & board of directors

William Demant employs a two-tier management structure, consisting of the Board of Directors and Executive Management. The Board of Directors supervises the performance of the company, its management and organisation on behalf of the shareholders. It also contributes to determining the company strategy. The Executive Board, in turn, is responsible for the company's daily operations.

executive management

The Executive Board consists of two members: Søren Nielsen, President & CEO, who is also President of Oticon A/S, and René Schneider, Chief Financial Officer.

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  • Exec 2-a

    Søren Nielsen

    Søren Nielsen, President & CEO and President of Oticon A/S
    (born 1970)

    Søren Nielsen joined the Company in 1995 and has since then worked within multiple areas of the Group. In his first years, he worked with the Group's then newly acquired hearing aid manufacturer, Bernafon, in Switzerland where he was instrumental in integrating Bernafon into the William Demant Group. He then moved on to also work within shared services as Quality Director and as business unit team leader in Oticon.

    Since 2008, Søren Nielsen has been overall responsible for all the Group's hearing aid activities, consisting of three hearing aid brands, and been President of Oticon, and he has had a decisive say in the Group's important strategic decisions and acquisitions. In 2015, he was appointed COO & Deputy CEO of William Demant Holding, and he has been a member of the Executive Board since September 2015. After more than 20 years with the Group, he took over as President & CEO of William Demant Holding in April 2017. 

    • Oticon A/S, President
    • Sennheiser Communications A/S, board member
    • HIMSA A/S, chairman
    • HIMSA II A/S, board member

    Søren Nielsen holds a Master of Science degree in Industrial Management and Product Development from the Technical University of Denmark (DTU). He used Oticon as a case in his thesis work, and right after his graduation, he was employed with the Company, which he has got to know from all angles imaginable. Søren Nielsen has a wide network in the global hearing healthcare community. One of the most important things that drives him is experiencing how proper hearing healthcare can positively change the lives of people with hearing loss and add immense value to society. 

  • Exec 3-a

    René Schneider

    René Schneider, CFO
    (born 1973)

    René Schneider joined the Company in September 2015 as Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and member of the Executive Board. René Schneider has broad business and financial experience from various management positions with major companies, including Auriga Industries (Cheminova), NeuroSearch, NNIT and Novo Nordisk.

    His areas of responsibility in William Demant Holding include HR, Finance, Operations, IT, Executive Support, Investor Relations and Legal Affairs.

    René Schneider holds a Master of Science degree in Economics from Aarhus University. He has extensive international experience in such areas as streamlining and re-establishing companies, M&As and driving value creation. 

board of directors

The Board of Directors of William Demant has eight members: five elected by the shareholders at the general meeting and three members elected by employees in the Danish William Demant companies. 

The Board members elected by the shareholders are elected for one year at a time and staff-elected Board members for four years at a time. The next staff election will take place in January 2019 and will take effect after the annual general meeting in April 2019.

The Board of Directors is responsible for the overall strategic management as well as the financial and managerial supervision of the company, and it currently evaluates the work of the Executive Board. The Board of Directors' duties and responsibilities are set out in its rules of procedure. These are revised once a year.

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  • nielsbchristiansen

    Niels B. Christiansen

    Niels B. Christiansen, Chairman
    (born 1966)

    Joined the Board of Directors in 2008 and was re-elected in 2018 for a term of one year. He is chairman of the nomination and remuneration committee and a member of the audit committee. He is considered independent.

    • LEGO A/S, CEO
    • A.P. Møller - Mærsk A/S, board member

    Niels B. Christiansen holds a Master of Science degree in Engineering from the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) and holds an MBA from INSEAD in France. His international experience from the management of major, global, industrial hi-tech corporations is comprehensive. He has extensive board experience from listed companies as well as comprehensive insight into industrial policy.

  • nielsjacobsen

    Niels Jacobsen

    Niels Jacobsen, Deputy Chairman
    (born 1957)

    Joined the Board of Directors in 2017 and was re-elected in 2018 for a term of one year. He is a member of the audit, nomination and remuneration committee. Because of his position as CEO of William Demant Invest A/S, he is not considered independent. 

    • William Demant Invest A/S, CEO
    • KIRKBI A/S, deputy chairman 
    • Nissens A/S, chairman 
    • Thomas B. Thrige Foundation, chairman 
    Additional William Demant Group-related duties:
    Jeudan A/S, chairman; Össur hf., chairman; Sennheiser Communications A/S, chairman and HIMPP A/S, chairman.

    Niels Jacobsen holds a Master of Science degree in Economics from Aarhus University. He has extensive leadership experience from major international companies. His competencies include business management and in-depth knowledge of financial matters, accounting, risk management and M&A. He has broad experience from the global healthcare industry.

  • thomasduer


    Thomas Duer
    (born 1973)

    Staff-elected Board member. Elected to the Board of Directors in 2015 for a term of four years. 

    • Danske Sprogseminarer A/S, board member since 2009
    • Oticon A/S, staff-elected board member since 2011

    Thomas Duer holds a Master of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from the Technical University of Denmark (DTU). He is Head of Integration & Verification in Oticon's R&D department and has been with Oticon since 2002.

  • peterfoss


    Peter Foss
    (born 1956)

    Joined the Board of Directors in 2007 and was re-elected in 2018 for a term of one year. He is a member of the audit and nomination committee. Because of his seat on the boards of the Oticon Foundation and William Demant Invest A/S, he is not considered independent.

    • FOSS A/S and two affiliated companies, chairman
    • The Oticon Foundation, deputy chairman
    • William Demant Invest A/S, deputy chairman
    • A.R. Holding af 1999 A/S, board member
    • TrackMan A/S, board member

    Peter Foss holds a Master of Science degree in Engineering from the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) and a Graduate Diploma in Business Administration (Finance). He has extensive managerial experience from global, market-leading, industrial companies with comprehensive product development as well as board experience from different lines of business.

  • benedikteleroy

    Benedikte Leroy

    Benedikte Leroy
    (born 1970)

    Joined the Board of Directors in 2014 and was re-elected in 2018 for a term of one year. She is a member of the audit committee and is considered independent.

    • Dell Technologies, SVP & EMEA General Counsel
    • Dell GmbH, Germany, chairman of the supervisory board

    Benedikte Leroy holds a Master of Law degree from the University of Copenhagen. She has significant international management experience from large, global technology companies within both consumer and business-to-business segments. She has lived and worked in the UK and Belgium for many years.

  • olelundsgaard

    Ole Lundsgaard

    Ole Lundsgaard
    (born 1969)

    Staff-elected Board member. Joined the Board of Directors in 2003 and was re-elected in 2015 for a term of four years.

    • Interacoustics A/S, staff-elected board member since 2003

    Ole Lundsgaard trained as an electronics mechanic at the University of Odense, Institute of Biology. He is Senior Product Manager in Diagnostic Instruments where he is responsible for the hearing aid fitting systems area. He has been with Interacoustics A/S since 1993.

  • jrgenmllernielsen

    Jørgen Møller Nielsen

    Jørgen Møller Nielsen
    (born 1962)

    Staff-elected Board member. Joined the Board of Directors in 2017 after having been elected substitute Board member in 2015 for a term of four years. Also staff-elected Board member from 2011-2015.

    Jørgen Møller Nielsen holds a Master of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) and a Diploma in Business Administration (Organisation and Strategy). He is Project Manager at the Group's facility in Ballerup, Denmark, and he has been with the Company since 2001.

  • larsrasmussen

    Lars Rasmussen

    Lars Rasmussen
    (born 1959)

    Joined the Board of Directors in 2016 and was re-elected in 2018 for a term of one year. He is chairman of the audit committee and is considered independent.

    • Coloplast A/S, President & CEO
    • H. Lundbeck A/S, chairman
    • Committee on healthcare issues under the Confederation of Danish Industry, chairman

    Lars Rasmussen holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering from Aalborg University and an Executive MBA from SIMI. He has considerable executive management experience from global MedTech functions. His qualifications include management and board experience from listed companies, and he is well versed in such areas as innovation, globalisation, business-to-business and business-to-consumer sales models. He has extensive experience of globalisation and efficiency improvements.

Board committees

The Board of Directors has decided to set up an audit committee, a nomination committee and a remuneration committee. For further information on the committees

Read more

Evaluation of the Board

Once a year, the Chairman of the Board evaluates the Board’s work. Every other year, such evaluation is performed through personal, individual interviews with the Board members by the Chairman of the Board, and every other year, the evaluation is carried out by means of questionnaires to be filled out by the Board members. In both instances, the results of the evaluation are discussed at the subsequent Board meeting.

In connection with the evaluation in December 2017, the Board members expressed great satisfaction with the manner in which the Board works emphasising the constructive working climate in the Board.


The Board of Directors continuously strives to ensure that between them the Board members have the relevant knowledge and professional experience required to fulfil the company's needs. These competencies must cover the following areas:

• International management experience at corporate level

• Board experience from listed companies with international operations

• Industrial management experience 

• Insight into globalisation challenges

• Profound knowledge of economics and finance

• Insight into and knowledge of the political aspects of business

• Board experience from multiple lines of business

• Academic level of education

Though Board members are up for election every year, they traditionally sit on the Board for an extended number of years. This ensures consistency and maximum insight into the conditions prevailing within the company and within the industry. This is considered to be extremely important in terms of the value that the Board of Directors brings to the company. In fact, it is considered just as important as the professional skills listed above.

Board of Directors’s fees

The basic fee for a Board member is DKK 350,000. The Chairman’s fee is three times the basic fee and the Deputy Chairman’s fee is twice the basic fee.

There is no separate fee for nomination and remuneration committee members. Audit committee members receive a fee of DKK 50,000.

The Board adopted the Remuneration Policy at the Annual General Meeting held on 7 April 2016.

Board meetings in 2017

In 2017, the Board of Directors convened on five occasions.