Having been President and CEO of Dassault Systèmes (parent company of SolidWorks) since September of 1995, Bernard Charlès has seen better than most how much the 3D software—and software in general—landscape has changed in the last twenty years. From the transition of industrial designers increasingly adopting CAD engineering tools into their workflows to the concept of Cloud computing and mobile devices, the world of 3D software is always re-shaping itself to meet the social and performance needs of today’s demanding product designer. We had the chance to sit down with Bernard at last week’s SolidWorks World to hear more about his thoughts on the move into Mechanical Conceptual as well as how a childhood in the French countryside helped shape the ‘always-inspired’ Bernard that we all know of today.

Not to be confused with Bertrand Sicot (CEO of SolidWorks) or Jon Hirschtick (Founder of SolidWorks), Bernard joined Dassault Systèmes in 1983 to research and develop new technologies. Three years later, he founded a new department dedicated to New Technologies, Research & Development, and Strategy where he helped steer the company into establishing CATIA as the world’s number one product design software.

From there, he shot to the top rankings of Dassault Systèmes by actively involving himself in projects ranging from the inspiration behind DMU (Digital Mock-Up), including the DMU of the first all-digital designed aircraft, the Boeing 777. In 1997 he helped orchestrate the acquisition of SolidWorks for $310 million in stock.

Today, Charlès is continuing to push innovation with the 3D Experience platform that also includes a portfolio of acquisitions that have fallen under the PLM umbrella including ENOVIA, DELMIA, and SIMULIA. With the addition of Mechanical Conceptual and other ‘Conceptual’ products in the pipeline, it’ll be interesting to see how Charlès’ vision of the future plays out into the existing workflows of dedicated users.

Keep an eye out for our upcoming Mechanical Conceptual feature that will break down the responses we’ve seen and heard since the announcement last week.


Simon is a Brooklyn-based industrial designer and Managing Editor of EVD Media. When he finds the time to design, his focus is on helping startups develop branding and design solutions to realize their product design vision. In addition to his work at Nike and various other clients, he is the main reason anything gets done at EvD Media. He once wrestled an Alaskan alligator buzzard to the ground with his bare hands… to rescue Josh.