A first for longtime Bentley Systems

A non-family member installed as new CEO.

Karen Moltenbrey

Bentley Systems has been an innovator in the CAD and infrastructure engineering realm for 40 years. The company was founded by Keith Bentley, and at one point, all five Bentley brothers worked there in key positions. Last year, Keith retired as CTO, and now the last sibling to work in operations, CEO Greg, has stepped away, as Nicholas Cumins takes over in that role. This marks the first time that a non-family member is serving as CEO of the company, which has grown from a one-person operation to a multibillion-dollar global success.

Bentley CEO
(Left) Greg Bentley, (right) Nicholas Cumins. (Source: Bentley Systems)

Bentley is a well-respected name in the CAD and infrastructure engineering realm, in terms of the company itself and the family who founded it and built it into the global company it is today. Bentley has always been a family business, back when it was founded and run as a single-person operation by a young Keith Bentley in the early 1980s, and later when it became a multibillion-dollar success. At one time, all five brothers held key positions within the company. That includes, along with Keith, brothers Scott, Ray, Greg, and Barry.

Keith served as company president until 1995 and then as CEO until 2000, before assuming the role of CTO until last summer when he joined Barry and Ray, both former executive vice presidents, in retirement. (Julien Moutte, who had been VP of technology, took over as CTO.)

That left Greg, who joined Bentley in 1991 and became CEO and chairperson of the board, as the remaining Bentley brother serving in operations. Now, following a previously announced transition plan, Greg has stepped down from his position as chief executive officer at the company that bears his family name, handing over that role to Nicholas Cumins. Greg will continue to serve on the board of directors as its executive chair, joining Keith, Barry, and Ray on the BOD.

For the first time in Bentley’s four-decade history, the company does not have a family member installed as CEO.

Bentley Board of Directors
(Source: Bentley Systems)

The leadership transition was revealed at a spring event marking the opening of Bentley Systems’ new UK headquarters, with Cumins acknowledging the company’s unique family-centric history as he addressed the audience. “This year marks the 40th anniversary of the founding of Bentley Systems, at its essence a company of engineers for engineers. Remarkably, the company has been founder- and family-led throughout those four decades. Greg has presided over an extraordinary legacy of long-term growth, sustained innovation, and value creation inspired by a commitment to advancing the world’s infrastructure for better quality of life. Greg has had a profound influence on the lives and careers of Bentley colleagues, and, together with them, on infrastructure engineers worldwide, taking pride in their work and what Bentley software enables them to accomplish. His entrepreneurial spirit is deeply embedded in the company’s culture and values. I am honored to have been selected to follow in his footsteps, and I represent the Bentley leadership team when I say we are confident in our readiness and growth mindset for the coming decades.”

The transition became effective July 1, 2024.

Cumins joined Bentley Systems in 2020 as chief product officer. Prior to taking over the role vacated by Greg, he served as chief operating officer from January 2022 until today. Before joining Bentley, Cumins was GM at SAP Marketing Cloud and held various other positions there. He was also chief product officer at Scytl and was senior VP of product at OpenX.

Cumins, who holds dual French and US citizenship, is based in France. Bentley, whose headquarters is in Exton, Pennsylvania, has locations around the world.

For the past few years at Bentley’s Year in Infrastructure Conference, the Bentley leadership has discussed the need for qualified engineers in the infrastructure sectors in order to accomplish the work required to achieve global sustainability targets, while also adapting aging infrastructure vulnerable to the effects of climate change. This will be an issue of great concern that Cumins will face. As noted previously by Keith and Greg, engineering firms and asset owner-operators are looking to software to help them overcome the limitations of scarce talent, and Bentley is committed to providing the tools to assist them in this struggle. 

“Infrastructure is at a watershed moment. Despite the massive capital investment in infrastructure projects and jobs post pandemic, so much more remains to be done to make infrastructure more resilient. Our ability to bridge that gap will literally determine the quality of life for generations to come. Fortunately, a paradigm shift in software is reshaping the landscape. AI-powered digital twin solutions are unlocking the value of data across the infrastructure lifecycle,” stated Cumins.

For example, Bentley’s AI solutions are already transforming the way organizations are monitoring the health of roads, bridges, dams, water networks, and telecommunications towers. “Every owner-operator in the world is looking for a simpler and more effective way to understand the condition of their assets. Think what the power and possibilities of AI imply for improving asset performance and making infrastructure more resilient. This is the moment for our generation to apply its ingenuity and build upon the legacy of innovation to continue advancing the world’s infrastructure for better quality of life,” Cumins added.