Big changes coming at ANSYS

Aug 29, 2016 | Hot Topics

ANSYS just announced that longtime CEO Jim Cashman will be stepping aside as CEO but will remain with ANSYS as Chairman of the Board of Directors. Taking the CEO reins will be Dr. Ajei Gopal, who has been a member of ANSYS’ Board since 2011. Dr. Gopal became President and Chief Operating Officer today; he becomes CEO as of January 1 2017.

Mr. Cashman didn’t really give a reason for the change but said in prepared remarks, “As we look to scale to $2 billion in revenues and beyond, I strongly believe that now is the right time to begin the transition to the next generation of leadership. Attracting Ajei, a technology industry veteran with an exceptional track record, is a huge win for ANSYS. I have come to know and admire Ajei as a fellow director, and I have no doubt that his outstanding leadership, unique perspective and appreciation for ANSYS’ culture, people and organization make him the right choice to serve as our next leader during this exciting time.”

I haven’t met Dr. Gopal, but he is a technology industry veteran. According to his bios on the ANSYS and Silver Lake websites, Dr. Gopal joined ANSYS’ Board in February 2011. Since one can be on boards and have other jobs, too, it’s worth looking backwards at his career: Dr. Gopal was most recently Interim President and Chief Operating Officer of Symantec. Before that: Senior Vice President and General Manager in the IT Management Business Unit of HP Software, “responsible for the product and technology portfolio as well as the overall success of the business”. Before that: EVP of the Technology and Development Group at CA Technologies. Before that: CEO and EVP at Symantec Corporation. And before that, he spent nine years at IBM, including time as Chief Technology Officer for its Pervasive Computing Division. And his first jobs? A member of the technical staff of Bell Communications Research Applied Research Division aka Bell Labs. Dr. Gopal holds 23 U.S. patents and received a Ph.D in computer science from Cornell University. This guy is clearly a smarty pants — of the best kind.

Dr. Gopal is quoted In prepared remark as saying, “ANSYS is on an exciting growth trajectory as it executes on its long-term plans. Jim’s vision and tremendous leadership have set a high bar, and I am committed to building on our standard of excellence and pushing the boundaries of innovation to help customers solve their most complex design challenges. I look forward to working with Jim, the Board, our leadership team, employees and customers around the globe to continue our legacy and capture the vast market opportunity ahead to drive stockholder value.”

Any change is tough — and Jim Cashman has been the face of ANSYS to make stakeholders for a very long and successful period of growth. It will be interesting to see how Dr. Gopal is introduced to the various constituencies (employees, customers, investors, partners) and what his first actions will be. One piece of advice, Dr. Gopal: don’t force subscriptions on your customers. Many won’t like it.