Over the years, SolidWorks and Dassault Systèmes (DS), the parent company in Vélizy, France, have started working more closely together. This trend has culminated in the recent announcement that Jeff Ray, former CEO of DS SolidWorks, has been promoted into a leadership role at Dassault. Ray will move to DS corporate headquarters in France to take on the newly created position of Executive Vice President of Geographic Operations. Reporting directly to DS president and CEO Bernard Charlès, Ray will oversee the company’s 12 geographies to help local DS teams better address specific local challenges facing customers and partners. Bertrand Sicot will take over as CEO of DS SolidWorks. Sicot started his career at DS SolidWorks in 1997 as the regional sales manager for Western Europe and Scandinavia. Since joining DS SolidWorks as Europe’s “second employee,” Sicot has consistently improved worldwide distribution performance, revenue, profit, and global market share.
This morning’s phone call with Ray and Sicot filled in more details of the promotion. When I asked Jeff when he goes to France, he replied, “I catch a flight tomorrow night.” Then I asked him, what exactly does an Executive Vice President of Geographic Operations do? He laughed and said, “I think it is easier to talk about the motivations and that will hopefully answer your question. One reason DS has been so successful for so long is the ability of the company to constantly reassess itself and, where needed, refresh itself. That’s been most obvious in the technologies, but it’s true inside the company too.”
We have been talking for some time about the next stage of growth for the business and what is needed, said Ray. “There is now a structure and a rhythm to the business that will help us grow to the next stage. It’s not about being a $2 billion software company. It’s about making sure we have the things in place to be a $4 billion and then an $8 billion dollar business. So this is all about executing in a way to ensure future growth. One of the key elements is making sure that people at the local level have the authority, the tools, and the skills to deliver great solutions locally. And that is going to be my obsession. DS is a global company, but business is done locally and I need to make sure I find a way for there to be a proper balance between the two. I certainly have some big expectations to live up to, but I’m comfortable with that. I’ve always said that I’m impressed with the people and the technologies in DS and I wanted to break down barriers so more people could have access to technology. This new position will give me a better opportunity to do so because I am now a member of the DS executive team. It’s humbling and I’m grateful to Bernard and the team for having such confidence in me.”
We see this as an evolution, not a revolution, said Sicot. “From day one, I’ve seen SolidWorks growing,” he said. “We know what we are good at, and we know where we want to go. With a good team in place, it’s now a matter of taking all the new technology initiatives that Jeff and I already started and making sure we complete them so we are in a better position three years and five years from now to provide our customers the best solutions.”