Q&A with New SOLIDWORKS CEO Manish Kumar

Q: What are some of the things you have focused on in the first few months in your new role? 

A: Dassault Systemes is a vision and value-driven company with a firm focus on long-term goals. There are many benefits of being part of such a nice group of leaders. Being part of this group, not only have I gained insight into the challenges faced by our clients today, but also where the industry is going and what are the challenges that our clients will face a few years from now.

In the first few exciting months in my new role, along with my team and my peers from different 3DS brands, I have been focusing on charting out the strategy for SOLIDWORKS for next 5-6 years. Looking at the research done by the strategy team as well as the current industry trends, we see some really exciting new opportunities that will present themselves to our clients.

Without disrupting the value that we are already delivering with our existing portfolio; how do we prepare for this future? How do we ensure that we meet your current needs, while ensuring that your needs of tomorrow will be satisfied as well? Finding out a way to achieve this has been the key focus are for me in last few months, and I am really enjoying it.

Q: You have played such a key role in the development of SOLIDWORKS over your career. How do you see this growth continuing?

A: I think we need to ask ourselves a key question: Why have we seen SOLIDWORKS grow at the pace that it has? I am sure if you ask different people, you will get many different answers. In my personal opinion, however, the reason behind our success over the years has been the fact that SOLIDWORKS has always challenged the status quo and delivered value to its users in the simplest possible way.

SOLIDWORKS was the first one to free CAD from the tyranny of costly hardware. “3D on every engineer’s desktop” and the goal of democratization of CAD was nothing less than an audacious goal. Helping designer move from 2D to 3D meant giving designers something easy to learn and use. We challenged “CAD means learning” status quo – and made CAD simple.

To ensure robustness of designs, actual prototypes were being created and tested, resulting in waste in terms of time, resources and money. We challenged the status quo and provided simulation tools to help our designers predict the performance of their designs with the same ease and simplicity that they were used to.

Our users were managing their data in files and folders, writing and overwriting each other’s data without even realizing it. That was another “Challenge the status quo” opportunity for us, and we provided a solution to our users that may very well be the easiest solution to manage data on your premises. I can keep on going with many more such examples.

Now let’s move to the future.

Evolution of our solutions for design and engineering is always a priority, and our existing users will never get tired of our claims of delivering value on SOLIDWORKS products – whether it is user-focused and/or requested enhancements, our passion for quality or performance, further refinement of user experience, etc.

What are other areas that are generating pain to our clients and users? Recently I was at one of my favorite client’s site. The company builds highly customized products.  I was curious and asked them how much time they spend creating a customized design versus the time that they spend collaborating with their customers, and I was shocked by the answer. “It takes us one week to design, and five weeks of collaboration before we start the manufacturing.” It feels like deja-vu, doesn’t it? Can we challenge the status quo and free up our designers from the tyranny of email-based collaboration – so that they can focus more on what they love – solving problems?

This is one of such problems that I can talk about. We have witnessed many problems where we believe we can challenge the status quo and provide solutions that are going to improve the efficiency of our users and clients while maintaining or even expediting the growth of SOLIDWORKS.

Q: What excites you most about this new role?

A: Delivering products alone is not enough anymore. Our clients must deliver enjoyable experiences in order to compete in an extremely challenging market and win. Delivering experience is not just about producing something that is aesthetically pleasing. One must take into consideration usage, quality, performance, robustness, ease of assembly/disassembly, and even feel good about the product by knowing its environmental impact.

New challenges were thrown into this mix recently. Accessibility, mobility and security are way more important in the post-COVID world than they were before. Workforce of the future will be more geographically dispersed than ever before in the history of human kind – which means collaborating and working together in a seamless way is one of the most critical needs of the future.

How do we solve all these problems taking into consideration recent technological advancements – Artificial Intelligence, data analytics, scalable cloud computing, changing landscape of devices used by masses, and so on.

“I am an engineer. I love challenges, and in my new role I see plenty of them. Getting this opportunity to solve such an interesting set of challenges is what makes me tick – that is what makes me excited.”

Q: What do you see as the most urgent priorities for SOLIDWORKS?

A: Continuous value delivery in our existing solutions in terms of user-driven enhancements, quality, performance, user experience and innovative new features will always be our priorities. We have done this since day one, and we will continue to do so. Nothing will ever take us away from that priority.

In recent past, our world has drastically changed. Dealing with uncertainty was always part of every engineer’s basic job requirement. Pandemic, labor shortage, supply-chain problems, and data security threats have all made this an even bigger challenge than what it was in the past. Teams need to be nimble, agile and be ready to change. New recruitment decisions are done based on talent more than the location of the candidate.

Keeping all this in mind, design and collaboration needs to be closely tied together to provide a single source of truth to everyone in the organization in a location-independent and secure way. What was planned yesterday may need to change based on supply problems. Tasks done by one person may need to be completed by another person. Data might need to be reused or replaced. Collaboration with a client may need to continue without any disruption.

We are looking at this need in a holistic way. Design is not siloed anymore. Solving this need of our clients is definitely one of our top priorities.

Q: What is on your radar for the longer-term? 

A: There is an explosion of data everywhere. This is a very good news, because it provides us ways to use this data in order to provide insights and machine learning-driven automation in ways that were impossible in past.

How to use big data and leverage machine learning to provide automation for increasing productivity and decreasing waste is something that we are always looking for. Though, this will also be a continuous delivery, and it will be an evolution rather than a revolution.

Q: What’s the coolest thing you ever personally created in SOLIDWORKS?

A: I live in an historic district. This means, if I want to install solar panels on my roof, they can’t be visible from the street. To solve this problem, I started creating a virtual twin of my house. It started as a small project, but soon enough, I was totally engrossed in it and ended up creating the virtual twin of the entire house. I would consider this as my best creation using SOLIDWORKS. You can read my post on this personal project on LinkedIn here.

Q: What’s something that most people may not know about you?  Any unique skills or personal hobbies?

I love playing cricket. I am lucky to be in Boston area, where there is a very active cricket league (Merrimack Cricket League). Almost every town has multiple cricket teams, and every weekend we play matches.

Off late, I have also developed woodworking skills and have built a few pieces of furniture. I was able to achieve a level of quality that was good enough for my wife and two daughters to allow them to be placed in the living room, and I am really proud of that achievement. ?





Barb Schmitz

Barb Schmitz

Senior Marketing Communications Manager at SolidWorks
Barb Schmitz is a Senior Manager in Marketing Communications with BA in Journalism and over 30 years of experience in the CAD software industry. She started her career as a journalist covering technology and served as an editor for several leading industry publications for over 20 years. Besides being a sleuth of tech, she is a loyal dog owner, travel bum, mom, lover of hoppy IPAs, red wine, and alternative music lover living in the great city of Chicago.