Last week Dassault Systèmes announced that Gian Paolo Bassi has been appointed CEO of SOLIDWORKS, replacing Bertrand Sicot, who was promoted to Vice President Sales of Dassault Systèmes’ Value Solutions sales channel. Coming out of last week’s announcement, we connected with Bassi and Sicot to discuss fond memories, where SOLIDWORKS has been and plans for continued growth in the future.
Q) Bertrand, it’s been 4 years since we welcomed you into the role of CEO…it’s almost as if you’ve completed a 4-year university program and you’re “graduating” to your next challenge. Can you tell us about what’s next for you?
I am taking over leadership responsibilities for 3DS Value Solutions at Dassault Systemes. The Value Solutions team is tasked with extending the value of Dassault Systemes’ portfolio (CATIA, SIMULIA, ENOVIA, DELMIA, EXALEAD) and our Industry Solutions through our 500+ channel partners.
Q) Gian Paolo, what are some of the things you intend to focus on in the first 3 months in your new role? What do you see as the most urgent priorities for SOLIDWORKS?
I see an increasing rate of innovation in new 3D printing/manufacturing technologies with the unprecedented capability to create parts with non-homogeneous materials. The CAD world has been developed around the concept of subtractive manufacturing and cannot handle these advanced capabilities, so accounting for this new development is one of our key priorities. The other is to make sure that we have the right products for the new generation of designers and innovators that live in a connected world and now have the ability to directly manufacture their ideas. This generation not only includes the traditional “makers” of the world, but also people in developing countries as well as a broad range of education institutions.
Q) Follow-up question Gian Paolo…what is on your radar for the longer-term? Bernard Charles and Bertrand have both stated that SOLIDWORKS will continue to be developed for another 15 years at least. When we flip the calendar to 2016 (or even the following years), what do you hope to have accomplished?
In the longer term, I would like to see SOLIDWORKS expand into new industries and realize our dream of anywhere, any time, on any device for an even larger population of 3D enthusiasts. We will continue to invest in all the products that our customers use and love, and at the same time we will introduce new products to better serve a changing society and technology landscape which are affecting our customers as we speak. Several constants will remain, especially our attention to our customers and to their investment and trust in us. Whatever we do, that is the premise. Everything we do must have our legacy and responsibility to our customers as core factors in our decision-making.
Q) Bertrand, what are some of your proudest accomplishments during your time as CEO? What are some of your favorite memories? Will you ever forget your bobsled ride?
During the past four years I think we have much to be proud of. For example, we grew the community by 1+ million users and now at the start of 2015 we have 2.8 million. We also delivered MySolidWorks.com which gives our users a single place to get information on everything SOLIDWORKS. Of course we also delivered four great releases of SOLIDWORKS software and added four new products to the portfolio: SOLIDWORKS Electrical, SOLIDWORKS Plastics, SOLIDWORKS Inspection and Model Base Definition. And we also introduced the first SOLIDWORKS application developed on the 3DEXPEREINCE Platform: SOLIDWORKS Mechanical Conceptual.
I have many favorite memories, from every SOLIDWORKS World and BBQs on the deck in Concord, to all of the good friends I’ve made at SOLIDWORKS and within the reseller community. Of course seeing the impact our customers are having on the world is especially memorable. My visit to Rwanda and seeing in-person what SOLIDWORKS is doing for that country will stay with me forever. And yes, I will never forget that bobsled ride. But I will also never forget my first trade show where people began applauding during a SOLIDWORKS demo.
Q) Bertrand, what would be a single piece of advice or insight you’ve acquired during your years as SOLIDWORKS CEO that you’d like to pass on to your successor?
Gian Paolo and have I have discussed many times how we must always put the user experience and the user community at the center of everything we do. As long as we keep customers as our focus, our community shouldn’t be afraid of changes.
Q) Gian Paolo and Bertrand, what are you both looking forward to the most in your new roles?
Gian Paolo: I am looking forward to getting more intimately involved with the users. I am an engineer so I understand what they need, and I am a software developer so I understand the potential benefits we can offer them. I want to accelerate the convergence of these two worlds.
Bertrand: For me it is to build relationships in a brand new user community and partner community.
Q) Gian Paolo, you’ve held several CTO titles…how do you plan on leveraging your technical background into overseeing the growth of the business?
I believe there is merit in having an engineering view of problems. I have always believed that if the global financial system were in the hands of engineers, we would not have seen the disasters of the past few years…at least engineers know how to manage the risk of their choices! But jokes aside, I will enjoy leading the most sophisticated marketing and sales organization in the industry. This is a very creative organization with a lot of ideas for growth, and I will help find the best opportunities and develop the best products to ensure the growth of the business and ensure the needs of our customers are met.
Q) Gian Paolo and Bertrand…with SOLIDWORKS World 2015 only a couple weeks away, what are you most excited to discuss with attendees?
Gian Paolo: Where we are going, how we’re getting there, and what are the benefits for everyone. I’m also looking forward to hearing some attendee perspectives on what the future of engineering looks like for them, as well as their opinions and experiences with the competition. There is much to be done in our industry, and I’m interested in hearing what our users are experiencing.
Bertrand: The future of product design and how SOLIDWORKS will continue to help our user community by bringing new tools based on new technologies that are just now becoming available.
Q) Gian Paolo, as you step into “the big spotlight”…what’s something that most people may not know about you? Any unique skills or personal hobbies?
I had a classical education in high school where I studied Latin and ancient Greek, and I used to play the piano. My family has a love for the classics and we enjoy exploring the arts when we travel, usually guided by my wife who is an archaeologist by training and used to work on excavation campaigns when she lived in Italy. My daughter picked up my passion for the classics and is into literature and writing, while my son plays the guitar so he covers the music side.
I also love the outdoors, I used to climb and ski mountains all over the world. I have much less time for that now, but occasionally I set camp in my backyard when there are big storms and spend the night in a tent with my son to give him the experience of a base camp.
You can follow Gian Paolo and Bertrand on Twitter at: @gpbassi and @BertrandSicot. Join us in just under three weeks for SOLIDWORKS World 2015, the largest SOLIDWORKS user event, where you’ll hear from new CEO Gian Paolo Bassi and give Bertrand Sicot a curtain call as he takes the SWW stage one last time.