Managing Design: Talking with Jim Heppelmann, Parametric Technology’s Incoming CEO

Parametric Technology Corporation, better known as PTC (NASDAQ: PMTC), is one of the leading companies in Boston’s “3D design cluster”—the group of companies focusing on computer-aided design (CAD) software for the construction, engineering, architecture, and manufacturing sectors. Back in May, Needham, MA-based PTC announced that its current president and CEO, Dick Harrison, will become the company’s executive chairman, and will be replaced by the company’s current chief operating officer, Jim Heppelmann. The transition goes into effect on October 1.

The 45-year-old Heppelmann (see photo above) was the founder of Windchill, a pioneer in the area of product lifecycle management—that’s the science of keeping CAD data consistent and updated throughout a product’s design and lifecycle. PTC acquired Windchill in 1998 and made the startup’s product lifecycle management software into its biggest product, with five times as many users today as PTC’s CAD products, Pro Engineer and CoCreate. Heppelmann has been with the company ever since.

I met with him in late May, shortly after the announcement that he would take the CEO reins from Harrison. What follows is an edited transcript of our interview.

Xconomy: Does the change of CEO mean any change in direction for PTC?

Jim Heppelmann: No, I do not see any big changes. We will continue to optimize around Windchill.

X: PTC is a public company. How did the market react to your announcement?

JH: I think the investors all know me. The announcement couldn’t be of any surprise for those familiar with PTC.

X: What makes PTC’s tools uniquely valuable? What can engineers or product designers do with your tools that they can’t do with software from your competitors?

JH: Our products allow for globally optimized product development processes. We have a better architecture, a broader footprint of capabilities, and our products simply work … Next Page »

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Eva Regårdh is a tech journalist from Sweden. She is an Innovation Journalism Fellow 2010 at Stanford University and is working for Xconomy during her fellowship. Follow @

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