Derk Haank is to retire from his role as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Springer Nature by the end of 2017. Derk will be succeeded by Daniel Ropers, currently CEO of bol.com, who will join Springer Nature on October 1 and work with Derk until December to ensure a smooth transition.
Derk has thirty years of experience in the academic publishing industry, almost half of which have been with Springer. He joined Springer Science+Business Media in 2004 as its CEO and drove the migration of content from print to digital, re-inventing the academic book market in the process. Throughout his career, Derk championed new business models and in 2008, led the acquisition of BioMed Central which together with Springer’s own open products led Springer Science+Business Media to become the leading open access publisher in the world.
The culmination of his career was the merger of Springer Science+Business Media with the majority of Macmillan Science and Education in 2015. He became CEO of the newly created Springer Nature and for the past two years led the integration of the businesses to become the world’s leading open access publisher, the number one academic book publisher and publisher of the most influential journals.
Derk Haank, CEO, Springer Nature, commented: “I’m at the stage in my career when I’d like to step back from a CEO role and try something a little different and a little less all consuming. The fact that we have found a great successor in Daniel makes this now possible. I am very proud of all that we’ve have achieved together at Springer Nature over the past two years. Whilst I will certainly miss the company and the people that I’ve worked with, this feels like a good time to hand over the reins to someone new. The critical merger related activities are behind us and our growth strategy is bearing fruit. I will be leaving Springer Nature in the capable hands of a strong and highly experienced Management Board and in Daniel, a new CEO who will no doubt bring fresh insight and passion to a business that will remain close to my heart”.
Daniel Ropers is an experienced CEO with a proven track record of building successful B2C businesses that lead the market. He joins Springer Nature from the digital sector where he co-founded online retailer bol.com in 1999, becoming CEO in 2000. During his 17 years as CEO, Daniel created the leading retail brand in Benelux with a reputation for excellent personalised shopping, reliability and customer service. After two consecutive periods under Private Equity ownership, he steered the sale of bol.com to Benelux based retail group Ahold Delhaize in 2012 and remained its CEO.
Daniel Ropers, CEO, bol.com, commented: “Growing up in Germany to a family of scientists, the Springer and Nature brands really needed no explanation. I am excited and honoured to be joining a complex industry which is undergoing digitally driven change, to work with people from around the world passionate about what they do and to contribute to the growth of a sector that really matters for the advancement of science, learning and society. I have been impressed by the drive, passion and deep industry knowledge of the Management Board colleagues that I’ve met already at Springer Nature and I very much look forward to working with Derk and the wider team on a smooth transition”.
Stefan von Holtzbrinck, Chairman, Springer Nature Board commented: “Derk has taken Springer Nature and the industry forward and as such, he’s a hard act to follow. He transformed the business from print to digital and created the operational backbone to deliver this at scale. This set us up well for future developments, as did his early moves into Open Access publishing. Springer Nature is now fast becoming a more service orientated business dedicated to helping the community we serve become more successful. The recent launches of pioneering Springer Nature services such as Recommended or SciGraph are cases in point. Although Derk will be hugely missed, we respect his decision to retire and look forward to working with him over the next few months on the transition.
“In Daniel, we have found a CEO who understands the importance of putting customers at the heart of a business and delivering products and services that they want, when they want them and in a way that suits them. From my days as an early investor in bol.com, I know him to be a great colleague with a personality that will be a good cultural fit with Springer Nature. He is well versed and successful in the digital business world with B2B and B2C experience that is key to the future success of all three areas of our business. This experience is equally relevant to helping researchers to advance discovery by serving up relevant information and making their research globally discoverable, helping teachers make use of digital products to be more effective or helping professionals to keep up to date with the latest thinking. “