In March 2017, we launched our 70th anniversary celebrations, and to highlight this launch, we asked our President and Chief Executive Officer Marc Parent to share his thoughts on this milestone year, including the secrets to our success, what makes CAE employees special and what he is excited about for the future!
Marc, what does this CAE 70th anniversary mean to you?
To be honest, as a cartesian engineer, anniversaries are just a number for me. But what I am excited about, beyond the number, is the occasion to pause and reflect. Reflect on who we are and celebrate what we have become, the contributions we made to society. But above all, celebrate all the individuals who have made this possible. It’s also another moment to think about how we continue to grow for (at least) another 70 years!
Like you just mentioned, this anniversary is an occasion to celebrate our history. What is the thing that makes you the proudest when it comes to what CAE has accomplished?
By far, the thing that makes me most proud is the transition and progress we have made towards achieving our vision to be the Training Partner of Choice, while harnessing the strengths of each our employees and the technologies and products that made us who we are today. We managed to successfully do what very few organizations can: launch off in a different direction, set up a vision for the future and make tangible progress. Our success in training services is evident today. That makes me proud.
What was your first day like at CAE?
“Busy” is the first word that comes to mind! I remember it very well. I had left my job at Bombardier at 7 p.m. on January 31, 2005 and started the next day at CAE at 7 a.m. on February 1, 2005. And the context was different at CAE at the time, a lot needed to be done, so it was a busy first day! But I also remember being immediately impressed by the people – the employees, and their openness. The way they welcomed me and their willingness to share their knowledge.
What would you tell new employees just joining CAE?
First I would say “Congratulations – you have joined a great company!”. But I would also talk to them about the spirit of innovation, something that is innate to CAE. People here feel like they can do anything. So I would tell them to take stock of that, to take time to understand what we do, and take time to talk to people. To never cease to yearn to do things differently to innovate, because that’s the secret to our success.
I would also tell them to embrace CAE’s spirit of openness and innovation. Every day, I see different regions around the world, or different teams working together to achieve our vision. This goes to show that One CAE is what we do - it is not just a buzzword.
Our past made us who we are, but we are also celebrating our future. What are you most excited about when it comes to our perspectives?
We have a great strategy for the future, duck tailing with our vision of being the Training Partner of Choice. And none of the markets we are in – Civil Aviation, Defence & Security, Healthcare – are limited by their size. It’s a rare blessing. And these markets are growing, and driven by demographic factors that will be there for many years. So this growth we foresee for years to come – That’s exciting.
"Thousands of stories. One CAE" is our 70th anniversary theme, and employees will be at the heart of our celebrations this year. What are the biggest strengths of CAE employees?
The strengths of CAE employees, I see them, but customers tell me about them every day as well. We have great products, great services, but most importantly we have great people. They are driven, passionate, and they have that innate spirit of innovation which I spoke about earlier. Countless people here at CAE make a difference every day and customers want to do business with us again and again because of the personal attention they get from our employees.
People congratulate me for our success all the time, but really, as we say, “I stand on the shoulders of giants”.
To stay successful, we must evolve. How do you think that CAE has evolved in the past few years?
We DO evolve continually, and we have had to reinvent ourselves many times. Our ability to do that is one of our great successes. The shift to becoming the Training Partner of Choice is a great example: going into training for Healthcare, becoming a Training Services Integrator in Defence, or going into live training, where we are now a leader in both Civil and Defence.
True to our innovative spirit, we continuously innovate ourselves and evolve, not only to be relevant in our markets, but because the reality is that technology, and our competitors continues to change.
You are truly passionate about aviation and flying, and following your passion brought to what you do today. What advice do you give to young people just starting their careers?
I always, always give the same advice: love what you do. If you love what you do, time will go by fast, you will have fun, be good at what you do, work hard, and you will succeed. When you like what you do, you put passion into it and that’s when people notice you. Don’t worry about your career – just do a great job and thing will come on their own.
Also, take the tough assignments, opportunities that other people won’t necessarily take because they involve some level of sacrifice. They also involve a great deal of learning and experience.
Anniversaries are occasions to send happy wishes. What do you wish to all CAE employees for the future?
I wish us all continued growth to continue to have the success that we have and allow even more people to join our company and share in this success! I also wish us all to keep being proud of being CAE employees, so much that we don’t hesitate to refer friends or family members to the company so we can build the next generation of CAE employees!