Management Changes in William Demant: Søren Nielsen New President

Smørum, Denmark
24 February 2017

President & CEO Niels Jacobsen has decided to step down after 25 years as member of the Executive Board in William Demant Holding to become CEO of William Demant Invest A/S. The present Chief Operating Officer (COO) Søren Nielsen will become new President & CEO of William Demant Holding. The management changes will take effect on 1 April 2017. Going forward, the Executive Board will consist of Søren Nielsen and CFO René Schneider backed by a management group consisting of Arne Boye Nielsen (Diagnostics), Niels Wagner (Retail) and Svend Thomsen (Finance). In addition, the Oticon Foundation will announce a number of other management and board changes in the William Demant Group.

On the promotion of Søren Nielsen, the present Chairman of the Board of William Demant Holding, Lars Nørby Johansen, says:

"With Søren Nielsen as President & CEO, the Company gets a strong leader who will safeguard William Demant Holding's continued competitiveness in a dynamic industry. He stands for both readiness to change and continuity and has the ability to carry on the strategy to ensure that the Company continues its growth. With his insight into the industry gained over the past many years, his ability to discover new ways and many commercial successes on his resume, Søren Nielsen is the right person to manage William Demant Holding, where he is already very well-respected as a leader."

Søren Nielsen, who will also continue as President of the subsidiary Oticon, comments on his new role in William Demant Holding:

"I'm proud and honoured to have been given the opportunity to be at the head of a fantastic company, which year after year delivers great results - not least in 2016. We are standing on a very strong platform, ready to take on the competition and be part of the fast development in our industry and together with our customers deliver the most innovative and well-functioning products to the end-users."

Søren Nielsen takes over from Niels Jacobsen, who will assume the position as CEO of William Demant Invest, which is the company from which the Oticon Foundation's business activities arise. In addition, Niels Jacobsen has been nominated as member of the Board of William Demant Holding. The Board intends to elect him Deputy Chairman. In a comment on Niels Jacobsen's 25 years with the Company, Lars Nørby Johansen says:

"With his business acumen, Niels Jacobsen has focused on each company in William Demant Holding being able to act optimally in the ongoing transformation of the Company, and results show that he has been very successful indeed."

Oticon, industry leaders in advanced audiology and hearing aid technology for both adults and children, was founded 1904 and today employs 12,000 people globally. With its innovative hearing technology, Oticon supports numerous hearing losses from mild to severe. Oticon recently launched the next generation hearing aid, Oticon Opn™, that unlocks a whole new world of sound and overcomes challenges today’s most advanced solutions have been unable to solve. Thanks to Oticon’s revolutionary BrainHearing™ technology, Opn is the first hearing aid proven to be ‘easier’ on the brain, reducing cognitive load for more comfortable listening and improving both memory and understanding*. Opn has already been received very well by dispensers and end users and is one of the William Demant 2016 high performers.

Please find below biography and CV for Søren Nielsen


Søren Nielsen biography

Søren Nielsen will take another step up the corporate ladder when he becomes President & CEO of William Demant Holding. In 2015, he was appointed COO of William Demant Holding, and he has since 2008 been responsible for Oticon where he will continue as President.

For the past eight years, Søren Nielsen has been overall responsible for the whole hearing aid business, and he has had a decisive say in important strategic decisions and acquisitions for the whole Group, most recently also as a member of the Executive Board since September 2015. Søren Nielsen will continue the William Demant Group's hearing healthcare strategy, which he also helped define: To grow in all areas of hearing healthcare, including hearing aids, hearing implants and diagnostics, and to exploit the Group's infrastructure and know-how with a view to developing the Group's position as market leader.

In the Group, Søren Nielsen is regarded as a hard-working, energetic man, who knows both the customers and the employees well. He is seen as a very committed leader and an adept communicator. He is detail-oriented and knows what goes on both internally and externally.

Søren Nielsen will continue to prioritise the development of the Group's culture and employees, while focusing on the customers and using technology and innovation as important tools for driving the business forward. Highly concerned with the exploitation of synergies across all business activities in William Demant Holding, Søren Nielsen uses every opportunity to emphasise the importance of the further development of the Group's global distribution and shared services.

It is a man who knows the Group better than almost anybody else that will take the reins. The newly appointed President & CEO is 46 years old and has been with the Company for almost half his life. Already when Søren Nielsen studied to become a Master of Science in Engineering at the Technical University of Denmark, he used Oticon as a case in his thesis work, and right after his graduation, he was employed with the Company. That was back in 1995.

In the coming years, he got to know the Group from all angles imaginable in William Demant Holding's subsidiaries all over the world, before he returned to the "mother ship" in Denmark where he became an important part of Oticon's management.

Up through the 2000s, Søren Nielsen took part in ensuring a string of important commercial successes, including Oticon Delta that changed the way in which we design hearing aids. In 2016, he was behind the launch of the game changer Oticon Opn, which is an Internet-connected hearing aid that opens up the sound picture and enables the user to participate actively in complex listening situations.

Søren Nielsen is married to Henriette Svarre Nielsen, who is a doctor. The couple has three children.


Søren Nielsen CV

Born 1970

2015-                            COO & Deputy CEO, William Demant Holding A/S

2008-                            President, Oticon A/S

                                            Responsible for all activities in Denmark and the overall global responsibility for Oticon. Responsible for the global wholesale business

1997 - 2008              Oticon A/S, Headquarters Copenhagen

                                           Business Unit team leader 2000-2008

                                           Project manager for two large product launches, e.g. Oticon Delta

                                           Quality director 1997-1999

1995 - 1997              Posted with Bernafon AG, Switzerland where he participated in the integration of Bernafon into William Demant Holding

1995 - 1995              Oticon A/S, Project employee in Finance


Directorships and positions of trust

Board member in Sennheiser Communications A/S

Member of the Confederation of Danish Industry's committee on health policy


Master of Science in Engineering, Technical University of Denmark (DTU)


*Compared to Alta 2


500 million people worldwide suffer from hearing loss. It is Oticon's ambition that our customers – hearing clinics throughout the world – prefer to use our products for people with impaired hearing. The majority of people with hearing loss are over the age of 50, with 8 per cent under the age of 18. Based on passion, dedication and professional expertise, Oticon designs and manufactures hearing aids for both adults and children. Oticon supports every kind of hearing loss from mild to severe and we pride ourselves on developing some of the most innovative hearing aids on the market. Headquartered out of Denmark, we are a global company and part of William Demant Holding Group with more than 12,000 employees and revenues of over DKK 12 billion.  


For more information contact:

Trine Kromann-Mikkelsen, Media Relations, William Demant

Phone +45 5117 6873

Katrine Hertz Østergaard, Media Relations, Oticon

Phone +45 2095 2530