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Jeff Rowe
Jeff Rowe
Jeffrey Rowe has more than 40 years of experience in all aspects of industrial design, mechanical engineering, and manufacturing. On the publishing side, he has written well over 1,000 articles for CAD, CAM, CAE, and other technical publications, as well as consulting in many capacities in the … More »

CEO Change At SOLIDWORKS: “Au revoir” to Bertrand, “Ciao” to Gian Paolo

January 15th, 2015 by Jeff Rowe

Well, we can’t say that 2015 in the MCAD industry has started off on a dull note.

With what many in the industry I’m sure consider a surprise, this morning Dassault Systèmes announced that Gian Paolo Bassi has been appointed CEO of its 3D design software brand SOLIDWORKS. Gian Paolo Bassi replaces Bertrand Sicot, who will become Vice President Sales of Dassault Systèmes’ Value Solutions sales channel.

The press release says Bertrand was “promoted,” but going from CEO to VP doesn’t exactly seem like a promotion to me. However, this isn’t the first “promotion” of this type. Sicot’s CEO predecessor, Jeff Ray, endured a somewhat similar fate about four years ago when he became Executive Vice President of Geographic Operations, at the time a newly created position within Dassault. I guess, just chalk it up to “business is business.”

Paolo Bassi will lead the development of SOLIDWORKS’ future product and technology strategies designed for the desktop and the cloud, as well as continued collaboration with the brand’s user community.

Going back just a year, in the following video Bertrand Sicot, then CEO of DS SOLIDWORKS, speeds down the Lake Placid sled track at 95 mph in a bobsled designed in SOLIDWORKS by Bo-Dyn Bobsled.

SolidWorks CEO Bertrand Sicot’s Bobsled Ride for SolidWorks World 2014

“Behind every great brand is great talent, and Gian Paolo and Bertrand have been architects of change for SOLIDWORKS,” said Bernard Charlès, President and CEO of Dassault Systèmes. “SOLIDWORKS has developed into a comprehensive portfolio for intuitive, integrated 3D design, simulation, electrical design, product data management and technical communication and continues to thrive thanks to engineering ingenuity and user collaboration. We look forward to continued success for SOLIDWORKS under Gian Paolo’s leadership and to strong Value Solutions channel sales growth from Bertrand’s extensive sales experience.”

According to the press release that was issued today, “Gian Paolo Bassi has been instrumental in the growth of SOLIDWORKS since joining Dassault Systèmes in 2011 as SOLIDWORKS Vice President Research and Development. With a hands-on technical approach and working in close collaboration with SOLIDWORKS’ tight-knit user community of more than two million engineers and designers, Gian Paolo Bassi led the development of the brand’s cloud applications, SOLIDWORKS Mechanical Conceptual and SOLIDWORKS Industrial Conceptual, to provide users with an instinctive powerful 3D modeling environment with online data storage and social collaboration on Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE platform.”

Gian Paolo Bassi, 55 years old, has more than 25 years of experience in 3D, CAD, and PLM application development. Prior to joining Dassault Systèmes’ SOLIDWORKS brand, he was founder and CTO of RIWEBB where he oversaw the development of new technologies for the mechanical and architectural design automation industry. He was also previously vice president and CTO of ImpactXoft, where he co-invented three of his five patents in functional modeling. He also served in the R&D organizations of companies like Computervision and think3 (there’s a blast from the past!).

In the following video Greg Mark and Gian Paolo Bassi discuss the MarkForg3D, the world’s first carbon fiber 3D printer.

Gian Paolo Bassi Introduces MarkForg3D – The First Carbon Fiber 3D Printer at SolidWorks World 2014

As of today, Bertrand Sicot, former CEO of SOLIDWORKS, is now Dassault Systèmes’ Vice President Sales of its Value Solutions sales channel, its indirect sales network of over 500 partners in 36 countries.

Bertrand started his career at SOLIDWORKS in 1997 as the regional sales manager for Western Europe and Scandinavia. He was SOLIDWORKS’ second European employee. Bertrand improved worldwide distribution, performance, revenue, profit, and global market share, and this success earned him promotions with increasing responsibility and global scope, including country manager for Western Europe in 1999, and VP, North American sales in 2004. Bertrand began his career at IBM France, and was a branch sales manager for Computervision France before joining SolidWorks.

Bertrand’s departure as CEO is really not so surprising, the more I think about it. His CEO predecessors also lasted 3-4 years, as well. I always found Bertrand very professional, polished, personable, and approachable. His new position will allow him to not only return to his sales roots, but to interact with partners – both of which are strengths I have observed over the years. I’m sure he’ll do well in his next and future endeavors.

Gian Paolo I don’t know nearly as well, as he is a more reserved and quiet person. However, he is a smart guy who will be leading SOLIDWORKS in an ongoing period of transition, as well as trying to generate more interest in the SOLIDWORKS Mechanical and Industrial Conceptual offerings.

They say that timing is everything, and the timing of this executive move is interesting, because SOLIDWORKS World, the company’s international user conference in three weeks in Phoenix. It will be even more interesting to see how the changing of the CEO guard is perceived and received.

Overheard: During a webinar presented by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) on additive manufacturing, we heard an interesting thought from one of the participants: “In the future, products will not be designed, they will be calculated.” Although I don’t totally agree with that sentiment, it’s an interesting thought, nonetheless.

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