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WS Audiology Names Jan Makela as New President and CEO, Succeeding Eric Bernard

Jan Makela was previously President and CEO of Imaging at GE HealthCare, where he oversaw a business with revenues of about $10 billion and over 10,000 employees.

Jan Makela

Jan Makela has been named president and CEO of WS Audiology, the maker of Widex, Signia, and Rexton hearing aids, as well as the parent group of HearUSA,, and TruHearing.

LYNGE, DENMARK — WS Audiology (WSA), the parent group of Widex, Signia, and Rexton hearing aid brands, has announced that Jan Makela has been named its new President and CEO, succeeding Eric Bernard, effective July 15.

“The CEO succession at WSA has been well planned and agreed between Eric and the owners, the Tøpholm and Westermann families, and EQT,” said WSA Board Chair Lars Rasmussen in a press statement. “The owners and the board express their deep gratitude for Eric’s relentless commitment to WSA and his many contributions and achievements. He has led the company through the first 5 years after the merger, growing revenues by more than 50%, strengthening the leadership team, driving employee engagement levels to best in class, and developing WSA into a sustainability leader. With the appointment of Jan Makela, we have a strong successor with an impeccable track record. The board is confident that Jan will lead WSA into the next cycle of profitable growth, innovation leadership and consistent execution.”

According to WSA, Jan Makela brings 17 years of diverse and successful experience in the medical device and life sciences industries. He was previously President and CEO of Imaging at GE HealthCare where he oversaw a business with revenues of about $10 billion and over 10,000 employees involved in MR, CT, PET, nuclear medicine, x-rays, women’s health, interventional, surgery, imaging analytics, and software. He is in the process of moving his family from the UK to Denmark.

Additional experience of Makela includes:

  • From 2017 to 2020, Makela served as President and CEO of GE HealthCare Global Services.
  • He joined GE Capital in 2000 and moved to GE HealthCare in 2007 to lead the Diagnostic Imaging Services business across Northern Europe. He later served as Chief Operations Officer for the European region.
  • He began his career in engineering and production management with M&M/Mars Inc., followed by leadership roles at A.T. Kearney management consultants before joining GE.
  • He has a master’s degree in engineering from the University of Cambridge.

“I am thrilled about the opportunity to enter the world of hearing care and lead WSA, which is recognized as one of the most innovative MedTech companies in the world, enabling millions of people with hearing loss to continue to participate fully in society,” says Makela. “The growth opportunities in hearing care are outstanding, as global markets are underserved. I am inspired by WSA's purpose: Wonderful Sound for All, and look forward to working closely with the team and contributing to the company’s success.”

Eric Bernard

Eric Bernard.

Eric Bernard became president and CEO of WSA in June 2019, shortly after the merging of Widex A/S and Sivantos—which then became WSA. Not long after, he successfully navigated the company through a cyberattack and the COVID-19 pandemic and into an era of growth. He’d previously spent 25 years at Essilor International in several global leadership roles. Bernard will support Jan Makela in his transition to the new role and will, after a short break, serve as an industry advisor to EQT.

“My time at WSA has been one of the most exciting of my career,” says Bernard. “Together with a dedicated leadership team, and supported by our owners, we have been able to build WSA into a leading player in the hearing aid industry. I would like to thank our employees for their tremendous commitment and sincerely wish Jan lots of success.”

Source: WSA and HearingTracker

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