Executive President & CEO, Danfoss
After graduating in engineering, Niels worked as a research engineer at Copenhagen University Hospital. It was here that he invented a device for non-invasive measurement of the human nose. It received a patent and is still in production today. After completing his MSc in Engineering from the Technical University of Denmark, Niels joined McKinsey & Co. before joining INSEAD in 1993.
“I chose INSEAD because I wanted to gain the best business knowledge possible in the shortest time and in the most efficient manner. It was also important to me that I could do just this in a global environment with a global mindset. INSEAD could offer just that, having as it does, students from a broader spectrum of nationalities than any other business school.”
“I had a magnificent year at INSEAD. It was different from any other year during my career and student life. It was an amazing experience to be challenged personally, professionally and culturally, all at once while being in the company of so many exciting people. However, my fondest memory of INSEAD has to be the Scandinavian party. There were 200 of us, all dressed as Vikings and I am afraid we behaved as Vikings too. The injuries, fortunately, only amounted to one Norwegian breaking an arm!”
When he graduated, Niels went to work for the Hilti Corp. in Switzerland for a number of years and then GN Store Nord in Denmark, before joining Danfoss as COO in 2004.
“Since leaving INSEAD I have pursued a global career path and I have always had a great interest in working with the challenges that global companies encounter. INSEAD sharpened my awareness of my own integrity and what I stand for, especially when it comes to having the courage to make the right choices. This means sometimes taking on challenges that appear daunting at first, as well as sometimes having the courage to say no to offers that, however tempting, would not have been right for me in the long run.”
Niels is the current Chairman of the Danish INSEAD council and has continually recommended and promoted INSEAD to others throughout his career.
Niels has also made a conscious choice for a life outside of his work. “I am proud of my family. Being close to my children, spending time with them and sharing their successes and concerns as they grow up, is very important to me. Making time for this is a personal achievement when one has a job like mine.”
“From a professional perspective, I am quite proud of the way we have been able to navigate Danfoss through the current global crisis. A lot of difficult choices have been necessary along the way, but we took action early and consequently have managed to adapt our set-up to the situation in the world around us.”
In the future Niels would like to contribute to improving companies through board memberships, as well as make a difference to society, particularly in relation to climate issues, including promoting and contributing to solutions that can help the climate.
“I would like to be remembered as someone who made a major positive difference both to Danfoss, to society in general and in relation to climate issues.”