A conversation with Jeff Ray and Bertrand Sicot

Yesterday morning, we announced that Jeff Ray, who has been the SolidWorks CEO for the past four years, has been promoted to a new role at Dassault Systèmes corporate headquarters in Vélizy, France. Taking Jeff’s place is Bertrand Sicot, who was promoted to CEO from  his previous position as executive vice president of sales.

I had a chance to sit down with Jeff and Bertrand to talk to them about these changes, and see what they’re thinking about as we enter the new year. Here’s a quick recap.

Matt: First off, congratulations to both of you. Jeff, can you tell us a little about your new role as Executive Vice President, Geographic Operations for Dassault Systèmes?

Jeff: Sure. This is a new position that’s never existed before, so we’re still working out some of the details. The Dassault Systèmes organization is broken up into twelve different geographic areas, each with its own special and unique challenges. Right now, the leaders of each of those geographic organizations are responsible for making sure that they’re doing the right things for customers and the business. Those leaders are now reporting directly to me, and I’m going to work with them to help standardize practices where we can, improve operations where it’s needed, and ensure that the customer experience is superior every where Dassault Systèmes does business.

Matt: Bertrand, what do you intend to focus on as you take on the role of CEO at SolidWorks?

Bertrand: My plan is to carry on the work and standard of excellence  that Jeff and the leadership team have instituted since SolidWorks was founded. My goal is to create an evolution rather than a revolution. I want to continue to help the teams at SolidWorks create the right tools for our customers, and also build the next generation of design software. I’ve been here since 1997, and I know that SolidWorks’ success has really been due to the constant focus on our customers—they’re the ones who really decide where we go. My job is to ensure we address customer needs but always in the context of new technologies and design trends that will help them in their every day tasks.

Matt: I understand that you’ll both be moving. What do you think about your new locations?

Bertrand: Yes, I will be moving back to the US from France, where I currently live. I I have done this a few times now (moving back and forth), and it will be good to be back in the office with the rest of the SolidWorks team full-time. And I love America—I’ve heard other SolidWorks employees joke that the only thing French about me is my accent.

Jeff: And my wife Cindy and I (and our dog) will be moving from Boston to France. Bertrand and I have joked with one another that we should just swap houses—it might be easier than trying to sell them in this market. We lived in Amsterdam for a few years before, and it will be fun to be back in Europe. Now, I just have to brush up on my very poor French.

Matt: Jeff, you’ll be the first person from SolidWorks to take an executive role in the overall leadership at Dassault Systèmes. What will you take with you from your experience at SolidWorks?

Jeff: I think the biggest thing I’ll take with me is the energy and enthusiasm of the global SolidWorks community—there’s nothing else like it in the world. I believe there’s a lot that that we’ve done at SolidWorks that could really make a positive difference to the overall Dassault Systèmes business and community, and I look forward to taking what I’ve learned at SolidWorks and applying it on a larger scale. But, just because I’m moving doesn’t mean I’m leaving SolidWorks behind.

I’m also thrilled to be able to continue to build a stronger, more unified team of people and technologies of which all customers will take advantage. I’ve often said that I am so impressed with the extraordinary technologies and inspired people in Vélizy; the more we share among all Dassault Systèmes resources, the better we’ll be able to serve our customers. I’ll also hold true to the core values of SolidWorks: treat people as you would want to be treated, hold one another up to a high standard, and never forget that hiring is the most important thing we do.

Matt: Bertrand, what are you most excited about in your new role as CEO?

Bertrand: This is the most exciting time I’ve witnessed since I started working at SolidWorks. As always, our flagship SolidWorks product will continue to build on the previous release with hundreds of user enhancements all targeted at specific customer requests. 

But, we also want to use 3D to significantly impact the success of the business–not just engineering. To make this happen, we are giving our customers more choices of tools than ever, so they can pick the solutions that work best for them. You’ll see some of these technologies at SolidWorks World in San Antonio. 

We’re also going to give our customers new ways to address their design challenges, and let them work faster and simpler in ways that they’ve never been able to before, with almost any kind of device. I wish that I could have had some of these tools when I was at university learning about engineering. I can’t wait until these new products start rolling out later this year.

That said, if they want to move to our new technology, we’ll make it easy. If they want to stay with what they use now, they can do that too. We’re effectively giving users the choice of three platforms–desktop, mobile, and online

Matt: Is there anything else that either of you would like to say before we wrap up?

Bertrand: First of all, I’d like to thank Jeff and the team at Dassault Systèmes for giving me this opportunity. Second, I’d like to thank all of our customers, employees, resellers and partners for their faith in SolidWorks. Jeff, along with Jon Hirschtick and John McEleney, leave behind some large shoes to fill, and I’ll do my best every day to do what’s right for our customers and the engineering community at large.

Jeff: Thanks, Bertrand. Similarly, I’d like to thank everyone in the SolidWorks community for making the last four years the best ones of my career. It’s really been amazing, and I know that SolidWorks is in good hands. I honestly can’t wait to see what the team comes up with in the coming years. But don’t think you’re getting rid of me completely—I may be leaving Concord, Massachusetts, but I’m still part of the Dassault Systèmes family, and you never know where I might turn up! 

Matthew West

SolidWorks alumnus. I like plate reverb, Rat pedals, Thai curry, New Weird fiction, my kids, Vespas, Jazzmasters, my wife & Raiders of the Lost Ark. Not necessarily in that order.