Welcome to the first in this new series of interviews of Interesting People of CAD (IPoC).
First up, Heidi Hewett. Heidi has a long CAD history and is well known for being outstandingly good at her job. She made big news recently by shifting camps from Autodesk to Bricsys. Here is the third and final part of Heidi’s interview.
Steve: Did you go to Gent? What were your impressions of the people at Bricsys?
Heidi: Yes. After my initial discussion with Don Strimbu, he invited me to Gent to visit Bricsys headquarters and meet the team. While I wasn’t yet ready to give up my newly earned real estate license, who can turn down a trip to Europe? Don met me at Heathrow airport and accompanied me to Gent from there.
As soon as we arrived at the office, Don introduced me to Erik, Bricsys CEO, and other executive staff including Patrick, Mark, and Sander. I went into the office with Don every day that week as he arranged for me to meet and get product demonstrations from people across the organization. They were all incredibly welcoming and treated me as if I was already part of their team.
Several things about the office environment got my attention. The first was that nearly all the conference rooms were empty. And it was very quiet. People were sitting at their computers working, not sitting in meetings! They’re a team of dedicated people that know what they need to do and how to get it done. But they also know how to have fun.
A chiming sound ringing through the quiet office indicates an important event. One afternoon it signalled everyone to meet in the kitchen for Portuguese wine and cheese tasting hosted by Carlos, who was visiting from his office in Portugal. Each Friday at lunch the chime reminds everyone to head to Pinocchio’s for weekly pizza and wine. And I heard rumor that company hardware policy enables employees to keep their old computers when it’s time to upgrade. In exchange, the employee leaves a few bottles of wine in the community kitchen, which, coincidentally is right next to the rec room with ping pong table.
Steve: How about Gent itself?
Heidi: When I wasn’t in the office, I was exploring Gent and nearby Bruges, with my gracious hosts from Bricsys. It’s a beautiful city with so much to see. I look forward to the opportunity to return!
Steve: How have your former colleagues reacted to your move? Have they been supportive? How about the reaction form the CAD community in general?
When I decided to join Bricsys after all my years of working on and promoting AutoCAD, I was a little concerned about the reaction I’d get from the AutoCAD community, whether internal or external to Autodesk. But my concerns were unfounded. Immediately following the announcement that I joined Bricsys and for at least a week following it, I was bombarded with responses through social media and direct messaging. Names were scrolling by so fast that I couldn’t keep up. Former colleagues and customers that I haven’t talked to in decades as well as those I worked with just a few months ago. Many names I’ve never seen but suspect they belong to AutoCAD users somewhere around the world that have attended my presentations or read my posts.
I was truly touched by the kind words of respect for my past achievements and the enthusiastic support for my new endeavors. It made me realize this global CAD community is incredibly small and tight. And, even if we’re developing or using different CAD software, we have the same goal… to design amazing things. I’m proud to be part of it.
Steve: I’m sure you’re deeply immersed in learning everything you can about BricsCAD and related products. What has surprised you most so far about the software?
Heidi: It’s a little surprising how much there is to learn about a product that feels so familiar to me. I’m confident that I can jump in and immediately start using BricsCAD the same way I use AutoCAD. That’s reassuring but it’s not enough. The challenge for me, as it is for most CAD users, is to push beyond the old and familiar ways of doing things to take advantage of the software’s most powerful functionality. What I found most surprising about BricsCAD, is that it allows me to create 3D solid models in a way that’s intuitive and familiar yet with more intelligence than I thought possible in a DWG-based drawing.
Steve: What are you most looking forward to in your new role?
Heidi: When I met with Erik and team at the end of my week in Gent, he asked if/how I wanted to work with Bricsys. He knew that my career had been headed in a different direction, away from CAD, so he left it up to me to decide if I wanted to work part-time, full-time, consulting, whatever. After what I’d seen and experienced at Bricsys, I knew I couldn’t be any less than fully committed! There’s just too much to show and talk about and demo and teach.
I can’t come up with a single thing that I’m most looking forward to. That’s what attracted me to this role. What I’m most looking forward to are the Endless Possibilities.