CAE on Wednesday announced that its president and CEO, Robert Brown, will retire on September 30. CAE’s board of directors has appointed Marc Parent, CAE’s executive vice president and COO, as Brown’s successor. Brown has agreed to serve as an advisor until the end of December.
“Bob Brown has brought financial discipline, healthy governance and strong growth to CAE,” said CAE chairman Lynton Wilson. “He has made diversification a strategic priority and CAE is now well positioned and enjoys the benefits of a strong balance sheet and a well balanced portfolio among markets, products, services and regions. On behalf of the board, I want to thank him for his strong leadership.”
Brown became CAE’s president and CEO on Aug. 12, 2004, near the end of his tenure as chairman of Air Canada, where he served from May 2003 to October 2004. Brown joined Bombardier Inc. in 1987 and led Bombardier Aerospace from 1990 to 1999. He then served as president and CEO of Bombardier Inc. from 1999 to 2002. Brown also held various senior positions in federal ministries, including the position of associate deputy minister in the Department of Regional Industrial Expansion before joining the private sector.
Under his leadership, CAE’s annual revenue grew 77 percent, from C$938.4 million in FY2004 to C$1.7 billion in FY2009. During the same period, net debt decreased 46 percent, from C$530 million to C$285 million and backlog increased by 39 percent, to a record C$3 billion.
During his tenure, CAE’s workforce grew from 5,000 at the start of Brown’s mandate to today’s complement of 6,500. CAE leads the world in the sale of full-motion flight simulators and has become the world’s largest commercial aviation training company and the second largest in business aviation training. Meanwhile, according to CAE, its military business garnered “record breaking” orders and continued to expand its operations and customer base. Under Brown’s leadership, CAE invested more than C$1.6 billion in R&D projects.
“I would like to thank CAE’s employees as well the management team for the quality of their work and their dedication. They have made my five years at CAE extremely rewarding,” said Brown. “I am confident that Marc and his team will continue to lead CAE to new levels of success. He already has responsibility for all of CAE’s business segments and has done an excellent job in achieving superior results.”
Parent joined CAE in February 2005 as group president of simulation products, where he was responsible for two of CAE’s businesses: the design and manufacture of simulation products for the civil and military markets. His role expanded in May 2006, when he became group president of simulation products and military training and services. A promotion in November 2008 to executive vice president and COO gave him responsibility for all four of CAE’s segments and new growth initiatives. At the same time he also became a member of CAE’s board.
Parent, who brings 25 years of experience in the aerospace industry to his new position, began his career at Bombardier Aerospace, where he held senior positions of increasing responsibility in engineering, management, product development and operations at the company’s facilities in Montreal, Toronto, Wichita and Tucson.
He also serves as chairman of the board of Aero Montreal, Montreal’s aerospace cluster. Additionally, Parent is vice chairman of the board of the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada (AIAC) and serves on the board of the Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries (CADSI).