Aart Jan De Geus was born in 1955. He studied law at Erasmus University in Rotterdam, then pursued postgraduate studies in labor law at the University of Nimwegen. In 1980, he accepted a position with the Christelijk Nationaal Vakverbond (CNV), a trade union confederation in the Netherlands, and he became a partner in the Amsterdam management consulting firm Boer & Croon in 1998.
From 2002 to 2007 he served under Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende as minister of social affairs and employment. In 2007, he was named deputy secretary-general of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) with responsibility for employment, entrepreneurship, social affairs, health, education and public governance.
He joined the Bertelsmann Stiftung Executive Board on September 1, 2011, and oversees projects relating to European integration, future of democracy, sustainable economies and international megatrends and partnerships. He has been chairman and CEO of the Bertelsmann Stiftung since August 5, 2012.