This is the third in a series of interviews of Interesting People of CAD (IPoC).
Lynn Allen is a legendary figure in the CAD world and really needs no introduction. I’m very happy that she agreed to be interviewed for this series. Here is the third and final part of Lynn’s interview. Learn about Lynn’s departure from Autodesk, people’s reactions to the news, and what Lynn thinks about Heidi Hewett going to Bricsys. Also, Miss Tiffany.
Steve: So after all these years, you’re no longer with Autodesk. Was that a shock to the system?
Lynn: After 24 years, it is so hard to train myself to say “they” instead of “we”… I’m still working on that. People who know the inside scoop know that I’m much happier now that I’m on my own. And I’m looking forward to possibly taking my skills, expertise and followers to another company, especially if I can find one that is truly focused on the customer. Or perhaps I’ll continue doing what I’m doing, working as a consultant.
Steve: Many of your long-time colleagues and friends also parted ways with Autodesk at the same time. Do you have any idea why so many highly experienced people were chosen this time round?
Lynn: I think that Autodesk Management would need to answer that question.
Steve: In my career I’ve been through several work experiences where people were being made redundant around me, and it was never pleasant. What was the atmosphere like at Autodesk while the redundancies were being processed?
Lynn: It’s not unlike other companies – it is always a painful process. I’ve been through it close to a dozen times at Autodesk – it’s always sad. And it’s just as hard, in many ways, for the people who are left behind. That survivor’s remorse. It can take a long time for a company to course-correct.
Steve: Even before this latest reduction in force, I have had people expressing their opinion to me that Autodesk has an ageist hiring and firing policy, and that once people get to about 50 they’re marked for deletion. Do you have a view on that?
Lynn: I can’t really respond to that either. I think you know my views on that, Steve.
Steve: What has the reaction been like from people outside to the news of you no longer being with Autodesk? Have people been supportive?
Lynn: People were shocked – plain and simple. And I spent so much time consoling customers and employees I didn’t have much time to process it myself. I literally had people calling me up and sobbing on the phone – what am I supposed to do with that? I felt just horrible that so many people were upset. I had to talk many people off the ledge. I had people swearing to get rid of their Autodesk products… it was insane. People have been amazingly supportive otherwise – I just can’t emphasize that enough. So many have reached out to me… it gets to me just thinking about it. I feel very fortunate that way (and I can’t thank everyone enough)
Steve: The way I see it, Autodesk stands a good chance of losing out twice in removing experienced, skilled and well-liked people. Not only does it lose those attributes, but there’s a good chance that a competitor will gain them! We’ve already seen that happen with Heidi Hewett going to Bricsys and Brenda Discher going to Siemens. Is it safe to say that Autodesk’s main competitors have all been in touch with you?
Lynn: Yes indeed! And let me say I was insanely flattered. I’m still listening and hoping to make the right decision here. We will see.
Steve: Of course you worked with Heidi for many years. She seems to have taken to her new role at Bricsys like a fish to water! Were you happy to see her land that job?
Lynn: You have no idea how happy I was for her. Heidi is brilliant and one of the most amazing people I’ve ever worked with. Bricsys is so lucky to have her on board. And Heidi is happy – and that makes me happy!
Steve: It was fun seeing you turn up at Solidworks World before your departure had been made public and getting people guessing! You’ve just returned from Gent in Belgium, I see. Did you enjoy that visit?
Lynn: I have enjoyed all opportunities to spend time with companies in the software design industry. They each have their unique offerings for the design customer and I’ve enjoyed getting to know the various companies better. I have also greatly appreciated those companies who have approached me and their amazing “hospitality” if you will.
Steve: I love Belgium. Great people, wonderful beer. Some pretty impressive software, too! Anyway, I see you have been keeping an active presenting schedule going, mostly attending independent Autodesk software-based events. At one of them you got to share the stage with Sophia the creepy robot torso woman. How was that?
Lynn: She is indeed creepy Steve! It was a unique experience I’m not likely to forget in quite some time. I can tell you that I’m certainly not worried about robots taking over the world any time soon – she kept stepping on my lines!
Steve: It’s good to see you’re keeping up the Cadalyst videos. Is it just me or are you getting a little more, er, carefree lately? Or is that just the cold medicine?
Lynn: I’ve definitely been getting a little more carefree (I must admit the cold medicine sent me over the edge though). Even in my live presentations I’ve noticed I’m more carefree and personally I think I’m a better presenter now – because I can just be me.
Steve: Do you expect to expand your presenting repertoire to cover non-Autodesk software in future?
Lynn: Anything is possible!
Steve: Last question. What question do you wish I’d asked you?
Lynn: Wow, what a question! How is my dog Tiffany? She’s doing great, thank you for asking!