Exclusive Interview: HP Introduces New Global Head of 3D Printing Commercial Expansion & Development


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When HP makes a move, the industry pays attention. In 2015, HP Inc. parted ways with Hewlett-Packard Enterprises, keeping the intellectual property for its upcoming 3D printing business as the company worked through massive restructuring efforts including several high-profile rounds of layoffs. Much of the company’s hope for future growth in its new format was pinned on the success of its entry into the 3D printing industry, a move watched with both interest and trepidation. Against many analysts’ predictions, HP Inc. has been outperforming HPE since the split, and this is due in part to what Bloomberg describes as HP Inc.’s efforts to “increase adoption of what’s called three-dimensional printing for businesses.” While Bloomberg may not be overly familiar with additive manufacturing yet, that may be about to change as HP is among a growing range of global brands making significant headway in advancing the technology and its profile.

As of August 2017, the company’s Multi Jet Fusion 3D printing platform is out with customers around the world, including large installations allowing for production-scale MJF additive manufacturing. The company is showing no signs of slowing down in its ambitious moves forward — or in restructuring efforts targeting future growth as the business adapts to a changing operating environment. HP’s 3D Printing operations have been helmed from the start by business president Stephen Nigro, whom we have been keeping up with since before the official unveiling of the MJF 3D printers last spring. The company notes that it has now “successfully completed a critical phase in the launch of its 3D printing business” as real-world installations and an expanding global partner and reseller network have seen the technology begin to take its place in the market. With growth in mind, HP has recently created a new executive-level role in its 3D Printing business, bringing on board Michelle Bockman as the Global Head of 3D Printing Commercial Expansion & Development.

“HP is driven by an ambitious vision to change the way the world designs and manufactures and drive the digital transformation of the $12T manufacturing industry,” the company says.

“HP has talked about six key triggers to unlock this opportunity, among them is the need for greater emphasis on end-to-end application development and use cases that demonstrate the break through products and economics enabled by additive manufacturing. In addition, driving down costs, particularly materials costs.”

By creating a new position, Nigro and his executive team are signalling a shift in operations as business becomes more of a reality in need of a roadmap than an idea session centering around future plans. Bockman is set to oversee what the business defines as three critical areas in its 3D printing operations: market and applications development, HP Open Platform for materials, and Digital Services.

“Michelle will be building on the great work by Scott Schiller and the market development team creating a customer-centric organization focused on expanding the market,” HP says.

Michelle Bockman, Global Head of 3D Printing Commercial Expansion & Development

Bockman has been in place in her new role for several weeks now, quietly adapting to life at HP. As she prepares to take on more responsibilities in spearheading the growth of the business, we recently had the opportunity for an exclusive early interview with her to learn more about her vision for the future of 3D printing at HP.

Most recently an EVP with GE Digital, Bockman is well familiar with leadership in a software-driven space with an eye toward the future of advanced technology in business. An engineer by training, she has had a lifelong opportunity in, as she puts it, being “the girl who was always taking things apart and putting them together again, or at least trying to,” an ethos echoed strongly in HP’s recent business moves. Of her background, Bockman tells us:

“I just loved tinkering with things to find out how they work and found I had a knack for it. I took advanced math and science classes in high school and had a passion for it.

One teacher was an especially big mentor to me. I thought I didn’t want to go into mathematics but she kept encouraging me. I remember she had a very interesting style of playing music during class. She said it made the plants grow, so it will help us learn. I can’t say she was wrong.”

From her early, well-fostered interest in STEM subject areas, Bockman went on to receive her Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the Missouri University of Science & Technology. Recalling the importance of the mentorship she received on the way to realizing the future she had always known she’d wanted in engineering, Bockman has dedicated herself to paying it forward and now serves as a mentor and inspiration to other young people, especially girls, with an interest in these subject areas.

I’ve always been committed to paying it back by being a STEM sponsor, managing programs to get girls excited about careers in science, technology, engineering, and math,” Bockman tells 3DPrint.com. “I was the lead STEM sponsor across all of G.E., putting together programs with other female execs where we did fun things like 3D printing bracelets to get them interested in new technologies at an early age. Over 1000 girls from local middle schools went through the program. It’s something I’m very proud of.”

The Barcelona office welcomes visitors to a new HP [Photo: Sarah Goehrke]

Bockman went on to start her career with GE in 2000, working in a number of positions through to most her most recent, Executive Vice President, Commercial, at GE Digital. She transitioned to HP this summer, noting that “HP is simply a great brand.”

It’s the original trailblazer of Silicon Valley, and now it’s more innovative than ever. When I was approached about leading market expansion for HP’s 3D printing business it was a no-brainer. To be able to work with one of the most revolutionary technologies of our time, with the support of a legendary company like HP, is a truly rare opportunity. And with my background in mechanical engineering and emerging technologies, it’s the perfect digital and industrial union,” she tells us.

“HP’s 3D printing business will profoundly change the way people live, work and interact with one another in the very near future. I can’t tell you how excited I am about this adventure.”

Her enthusiasm for the Multi Jet Platform-led business comes across as she moves from one two-letter powerhouse to another. The move is an interesting one, as GE has also been ambitious in its recent efforts in expanding its role in additive manufacturing, and Bockman moves to the polymer-focused HP 3D printing business from the more metal-looking work being done at GE. The throughline in her work is an underlying belief in the transformative power of additive manufacturing and its rising place in the increasingly digital future of business.

HP is clearly dedicated to its efforts in the 3D printing space, frequently stating its inclination to be a leading force in the disruption not only of additive manufacturing technologies themselves and the shape of that specific market, but in a sea change in manufacturing itself. Rather than the multi-billion business surrounding 3D printing, HP is setting its sights on the multi-trillion dollar opportunity in the overall manufacturing industry. Bockman is ready to take her place in leading that proposed disruption.

Regarding her new role leading the expansion of 3D Printing at HP, Bockman tells us of her focus areas:

“I have a broad responsibility to expand the overall 3D printing market for HP in partnership with our foundational customers, strategic partners, and materials ecosystem, and drive the development of new digital services for the 3D printing business. It means going beyond creating customer experience to being hyper-focused on customer success and all the steps needed to get there. It means showing customers how to expand their additive manufacturing strategies with HP, and in turn with their own customers. So, I’ll have the privilege of working deeply with existing market-leading customers like BMW, Jabil, Johnson & Johnson, and Nike as they embrace large-scale adoption of 3D printing to transform their businesses for a fully-digital future.”

Partnerships have been key to HP’s introduction to and rising growth in the 3D printing space, and Bockman notes that she is prepared to lead these efforts as they remain a focus. She continues, detailing her work regarding new opportunities:

“As the leader of 3D printing market development worldwide, I’ll constantly be looking for new applications and new industries we can expand into. It’s my job to help companies understand what the factory of the future will look like, and exactly what it means for them and their bottom line. I’ll find precisely what those companies need and work backwards to deliver it to them, whether it’s driving productivity or creating new markets or increasing efficiency or accelerating innovation. Those are broad mandates, but getting there can be different for each company. We are truly partners with our customers, and partnership is the lifeblood of HP’s 3D printing business.

In fact, HP’s partner ecosystem is as innovative as its technology, from our global strategic alliances with SI’s and software partners to our open materials platform strategy with the largest chemical companies on earth. It’s another important part of my job to make our partner ecosystem even more robust and diverse, and I’m particularly excited to build more alliances with materials companies, accelerate the development of new materials, and unlock the economics so 3D printing can continue to scale globally. It takes a village to transform the $12 trillion global manufacturing industry, and HP’s 3D partners are rapidly expanding every day.”

With her lengthy experience in digital technologies, Bockman has a keen eye for the future of new offerings, such as data and software services. These areas will be a focus in her role with HP.

“Applications, materials, equipment, services: they all need to be in sync to win. Driving a digital industrial transformation of this scale requires developing the next generation of connected, digital applications and services that unlock unprecedented insights and value for our customers and partners,” she tells 3DPrint.com.

“We will continue to find new ways to tap the value of the unique data generated by HP’s 3D printing solutions as its insights become more sophisticated and critical in an increasingly data-driven business landscape. As partners to our customers, we are right there to help them gather that data most efficiently, and apply its insights most effectively.”

An HP 3D printer 3D printing HP logos [Photo: Sarah Goehrke]

As noted, HP’s work with partners is foundational to its development and growth strategies, and Bockman is well aware of the key role that outside relationships play in the future of the Multi Jet Fusion platform.

“[W]e’ll continue to develop innovative software services for our customers that do everything from optimizing the packing of parts in printer beds to advanced thermal analysis to improving overall system functionality. Like the rest of its 3D printing business, HP takes an ecosystem approach to its services as well,” she explains.

As HP continues to keep an eye toward the future of 3D printing and its place in this industry, the leadership of the company will be critical in steering the ship. We’ve seen that Nigro is ambitious in pursuing partnerships and global expansion, and with Bockman taking a leadership role in furthering the business opportunities, her vision is also becoming a key piece to this puzzle. Her past experience and vision for the future will be fitting in with HP’s established plans and developing opportunities. These attributes seem to position her nicely for a future with HP, and she tells us of her journey and rising leadership in her new role:

“I like to solve really hard problems with smart, curious and passionate people in industries that are changing the world. That’s what drew me to mechanical engineering in college, and brings me to HP today. Over the course of my career, I’ve been lucky enough to experience and help shape many facets of modern businesses – from leading large organizations through digital change to developing innovative new products and services for customers. At the end of the day, what we do matters most if it delivers customer outcomes and, in my mind, also delivers value to the world at large. I couldn’t be more thrilled to be part of the HP 3D printing team, which is striving to achieve exactly those goals.”

HP will be, as ever, one to keep an eye on. With its 3D printers seeing increased installation and availability, we’ll continue to keep a close watch on what develops as MJF takes its place alongside other polymer-based 3D printing technologies and makes its mark on the market. The leadership of key industry players will guide the direction of growth and opportunity, and Bockman will be working closely with the established structure at the top of 3D printing at HP Inc.

[Images: HP]


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