As all of you, my loyal readers, know, I went home to the Boston area back in August. As has become my habit, I arranged a visit to SolidWorks with the hope of interviewing some of the employees, as well as getting a glimpse of 2012. How surprised was I when Kristen informed me that I could get time with Bertrand Sicot, SolidWorks’ CEO? Honestly, I was more intimidated than surprised. I’m hardly the caliber interviewer that Bertrand is probably used to, but I figured what the hell, the worst that can happen is a restraining order, right?
In the days leading up to my visit to SolidWorks, I tried to come up with deep, meaningful questions, ones that would cause him to pause and think before replying. My goal was to give you, the reader, more insight into Bertrand the man, not Bertrand the CEO. Well, at least I had a goal…
As most of you know, Bertrand became CEO of SolidWorks back in January of this year, though he was far from a newbie at SolidWorks. I’m not going to rehash his bio, though. If you’re interested in it, you can find it here. In speaking with him, I could tell how much he enjoyed working, and being CEO. He likened the past 8 months to two days. Given that this implied that he was having fun as CEO, I asked him if it was as much fun now as it was when he started in ’97. He agreed that it was, but in a different manner. That makes sense as, back in ’97, SolidWorks wasn’t much more than a startup and it is now a 1,000 employee, $500,000,000 company.Bertrand believes in being an easily accessible CEO, employing an “open door” policy, as evidenced by his willingness to meet with me. He realizes that SolidWorks’ success hinges more on the people, customers and employees, versus the processes. Without the former, the latter is pointless.
Bertrand’s path to the corner office started off innocently enough. He got his degree in engineering and ended up at IBM after his military service. It was at IBM that it was suggested that Bertrand go into sales. Incredulous, Bertrand declared that he was “an engineer”. However, Bertrand ended up taking the advice and has not looked back since. Coming from a mechanical engineering background has only aided him as his sales career progressed. He ended up leaving IBM, going to Computervision and then ending up at SolidWorks.
My biggest takeaway from my meeting with Bertrand was he appears to be very down-to-Earth and quite realistic. While we wait to see how his leadership effects SolidWorks, my gut says it’ll be ok. I do think that we’ll see more of an influence from Dassault Systemes, but I’m optimistic that the impact won’t be negative. Perhaps I’m being naive, but I believe that Bertrand is a SolidWorks employee before a Dassault employee and will work to keep the SolidWorks’ core values intact.
Picture stolen from SolidWorks.com