A Year Like No Other

If I had anticipated the challenges of 2020, Altair’s 35th year in business, I would certainly have been confident our team would rise to the occasion. After all, we have a rock-solid foundation built around our innovation culture and our amazing product lineup. But of course, no one could have predicted the devastating impact felt around the globe by the pandemic. I often say we are “growing an oak tree, not a weed.” We built our business to last and to withstand downturns; we built a culture to attract and retain some of the smartest people in engineering and technology; and we fostered relationships with customers and partners to deliver value every day and at scale. This was all put to the test in 2020, and I am proud to say, we passed with flying colors.

As we approach the end of a year like no other, I am greatly humbled by just how remarkable the response of our team members has been. Throughout the Altair community, there’s been a universal willingness to go the extra mile – not just in terms of driving the business forward, but also in the kindness, generosity, and support offered to colleagues, customers, family, and friends. With 2021 nearly upon us, it is important to reflect on what we’ve achieved and on what we are grateful for.

Staying connected – As I highlighted in an earlier post, Altair was well prepared for a world in which COVID-19 demanded physical separation. For many of our employees, we already offered flexible, work-from-home arrangements. Even so, we swiftly embraced a different working environment; one built around videoconferencing rather than face-to-face contact. Altairians recognized the implications this might have for our team spirit and sense of well-being. From virtual happy hours to online birthday celebrations, we were quite creative in addressing the potential downsides of remote working. And to help our customers tackle issues related to remote working such as maxing out corporate VPNs, cost, security issues, and productivity loss, we helped them move existing licenses seamlessly from on-prem servers to hosted servers.

Promoting diversity – In 2020, we continued to deliver on our commitment to diversity. Andrea Siudara, chief information officer, and Gilma Saravia, chief people officer, strengthened and extended our executive leadership team. We also established two important initiatives to help ensure we attract and develop a workforce that draws on all the talents and experiences of the world around us: the Altair Black Employee Resource Network (ABERN) and the Altair Women in Technology group, both of which have made incredible contributions to educating and empowering our teams around the globe.

Increasing agility – Altair has always been an active and enthusiastic member of the global technology community. This year, we’ve been forced to do things very differently. Around the world, physical events were replaced with virtual alternatives. These brought some serious challenges, including attracting attendees in the face of virtual event fatigue, and ensuring thought provoking and engaging content from speakers. Our team did not skip a beat and successfully hosted 13 virtual events with more than 260 presentations from both internal and external thought leaders.

Showing kindness – Every colleague and customer has been impacted by the pandemic. In some cases, that’s meant coping with the loss of a loved one. Others have juggled work and homeschooling, cared for elderly relatives, or struggled with the loneliness of quarantining. More than ever, we showed that Altair is a family. Empathy and patience have come naturally and created stronger connections between one another that we never expected. “Going to work” each day gave so many of us a sense of normalcy.

Being brave – In a year of unprecedented uncertainty, it would have been easy to hit the pause button. In true Altair style, we pretty much did the opposite. Over the course of 2020, we unveiled a new brand, launched the most significant software update release in the company’s history, acquired eight new companies, and invested in R&D, which continues to exceed 25% of our revenue.

Recognizing what really matters – Did I mention Altair is a family? Whatever form or shape it takes, this concept has never been more important. For me, the support of my wife Sally, our four daughters, and four granddaughters has been invaluable. If 2020 taught us anything, it’s how much we all rely on others. Sometimes that means the people closest to us. But in the months ahead, we will be equally grateful to the strangers whose work finally offers freedom from the pandemic’s grip.

In these circumstances, it’s understandable to describe 2020 as a year to forget. But we should also look back with pride. Altairians came together like never before and demonstrated just what’s possible when we do.

Happy holidays from our family to yours.


James R. Scapa
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James R. Scapa

About James R. Scapa

James R. Scapa brings more than 35 years of engineering experience to his role as founder, chairman, and CEO of Altair, a global company focused on transforming product and business decision-making through simulation, data analytics and optimization solutions.