President and CEO
James (Jim) Heppelmann is president and CEO at PTC (Nasdaq: PMTC, market cap ~$3B) and is responsible for driving PTC’s global business strategy and operations. Mr. Heppelmann also serves on PTC’s Board of Directors. Mr. Heppelmann has 25 years of experience developing and deploying sophisticated product development software technology across the global manufacturing industry.
Mr. Heppelmann travels extensively to customer sites around the world and speaks regularly at product development and manufacturing industry forums on topics such as transforming the way products are created and serviced in response to new business opportunities created by digitization, globalization, personalization, smart products, and servitization. He has also been published and quoted in numerous business and trade media, including The Boston Globe, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg Television.
An engineer himself, Mr. Heppelmann serves as a member of the national FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) executive advisory board, and is a member of the Dean’s advisory board at the University of Minnesota College of Science & Engineering.
Mr. Heppelmann is a strong believer in the corporate social responsibility approach known as Shared Value, where corporations contribute to their communities through vehicles that in return elevate the corporation’s value, in effect producing value for both the community and the corporate shareholders. PTC’s shared value program, “The Engineer of the Future”, is designed to inspire young people into career paths in science, technology, engineering and math through programs like FIRST and the Real World Design Challenge (RWDC). Through this program, students gain strong career opportunities, PTC’s customers gain an ongoing source of qualified employees, and PTC builds important relationships with potential future users of its technologies.
PTC is a software company whose technology solutions help manufacturers achieve sustained product and service advantage. Founded in 1985, PTC employs over 6,000 professionals serving more than 27,000 businesses in rapidly-evolving, globally distributed manufacturing industries worldwide.
PTC is a Strategic Partner of FIRST and is fully committed to the values of FIRST. Providing substantial financial support, free access to professional-grade engineering software and countless man-hours of employee support, PTC exposes FIRST students to sophisticated tools and global manufacturing customers to inspire students to develop the engineering skills that are in high demand from these organizations.
Additionally, PTC is a founding member of the Real-World Design Challenge (RWDC), an annual high school competition run by a public-private aerospace partnership with the goal of increasing the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) workforce in the USA.
Insight from the CEO
Why do you believe STEM education/workforce development is critical to our nation’s future?
America was built on innovation and entrepreneurship. If we want America to continue to lead in the 21st century, there is nothing more important than a continued focus on innovation. By getting today’s top students passionate about careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, we create the pipeline of talent necessary to develop the leading technologies that will continue to be the backbone of our economy as well as our security and quality of life.
How do you believe STEM education can improve a nation’s competitiveness?
Too few of our top high school students invest their careers into STEM fields today, perhaps because it is increasingly characterized as being too nerdy. So the first challenge is to inspire students toward STEM education, in effect to make it cool again. The second challenge is to deliver a quality educational program. We believe that students form opinions about STEM well before their college years, so high-school programs that first capture the imagination of students, and then cultivate their aspirations, will be the source of tomorrow’s innovators and entrepreneurs.
How has your corporation coordinated investments in education with future workforce needs?
PTC is very active in two initiatives, FIRST and the Real World Design Challenge (RWDC).
FIRST reaches an estimated 300,000 students annually and offers an accessible, innovative, mentor-based STEM programs for K-12. These programs inspire young people to think, design and create something physical using their engineering knowledge and skills. As a Strategic Partner of the FIRST Progression of Programs for K-12, PTC provides free professional-grade engineering software, including PTC Creo® design software, PTC Mathcad® calculation software, and PTC Windchill® collaboration software to all participating FIRST teams, allowing thousands of students along with their teachers and professional mentors to collaborate digitally and virtually on their designs anytime, anywhere.
PTC is a founding member of the RWDC, an annual high school competition run by a public-private partnership with the goal of increasing the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) workforce in the USA aerospace industry. The RWDC began in 2008 through a partnership between industry, government, academia, and non-profits. PTC provides program management, software to each participating school, including PTC Creo®, PTC Windchill®, and PTC Mathcad®, as well as introductions and connections to industry partners, team support and technical and administrative support. This year, nearly 5,000 students from across the country participated in the RWDC. Every student participates at no cost to themselves or their schools with partners donating more than a billion dollars of financial and in-kind support to schools since the RWDC's inception.
What is the STEM initiative that your company has supported are you most proud?
We are proud of all our STEM-based initiatives because every one of them helps educate, nurture and build the confidence of students to pursue careers in math, science and engineering.
How can we advance mentorships and apprenticeships in the STEM pipeline?
Though everybody is ultimately a winner, the return to the student who becomes inspired toward STEM may be greater in the short term than to the mentor or company who employs the apprentice. A better program that helps companies to establish an effective apprentice program, coupled with the matchmaking necessary to connect them with the most needy students – many of whom are in rural or inner city areas – could be helpful to significantly increase the availability of apprentice programs and the exposure of students to these real-world environments.
What do we need in the US to continue to be at the top of global innovation?
Innovation and creation of the infrastructure necessary both for security and quality of life represent the backbone of a strong economy and a strong nation, and the inexorable slide toward a service economy may become a precursor of trouble ahead. Organizations, educators and government officials need to work together to create more awareness of the importance of innovation, and then stronger STEM programs so that more students are able to better understand and pursue the wide variety of career opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math fields. When this is successful, we’ll have more students in the types of jobs that will keep the United States at the top of the list of global innovators.
Senior Vice President, Solutions Marketing & Communications
Robin Saitz is senior vice president, solutions marketing & communications for PTC, responsible for the development of messaging, positioning, and integrated marketing programs for the company and PTC solutions.