Yoga and playing board games for this CAE Partnership Leader

Published: Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Stella-Marissa Hughes is CAE’s Advanced Air Mobility Strategy, Business Development & Partnerships Leader, with vast experience in the aerospace and defense industry, including strategy, business development, and program management roles.

She is responsible for leading the development and execution of the Montreal-based CAE’s advanced air mobility strategy, as well as identifying and developing new business opportunities and partnerships.

“I am the daughter of a diplomat and grew up in various locations, which sparked my love of travel. I eventually went to McGill University in Montreal for my B.Eng and M.Eng. I made the shift from aerospace engineering to R&D strategy when I started at CAE in 2015, and later transitioned into business strategy as part of the Business Development group within our Civil business unit. After working on organic and inorganic growth projects for our training and simulation products business, I took on a new role that was primarily dedicated to working with start-ups to accelerate CAE’s innovation, either through collaboration or investment. Through that work, I became very interested in Advanced Air Mobility, which led me to launching a dedicated team that is focused on this emerging form of aviation.

“We have now become a cross functional team of nearly 50 individuals who are creating new products for this area, constructing a future training program, working with regulators and forming partnerships with some of the top OEMs such as Joby, Beta Technologies, Volocopter, Vertical Aerospace and Jaunt,” Stella shared.

Stella takes pleasure in spending time with her friends playing board games. Even in her leisure time, she enjoys thinking about strategy and how to work collaboratively with others.

“I’m a yoga enthusiast, so I love to be able to shake off the day with an hour of yoga. Preferably in my garden (Montreal weather permitting). I find that yoga helps me to clear my mind and connect with my body, and it’s a great way to de-stress. I’ve been practicing yoga for several years now, and I always feel better after a session.”

Stella’s favorite quote is from Maya Angelou, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel” which always stuck with me. It’s important to treat the people around with empathy and respect. I try to live by that and to excite and energize the people around me.”

Stella looks up to her partner, saying, “My partner is my inspiration. He founded a robotics company five years ago, and being on the journey with him as he has grown a medtech company into productization and profitability stokes my own drive. Watching him lead a team and foster a sense of community has shaped my leadership style. I have seen firsthand how his innovative thinking and dedication to his work has led to success, and I am eager to follow his example. He is my motivation to continue learning and expanding my own skills so that I can one day reach the same level of success.”

Currently, Stella works with startups that are working to transform the way that people and businesses operate.

“It’s energizing and I feel like I learn something new every day. If I was not working in aviation, I would probably be supporting business development of an engineering tech start up. I would find it rewarding to watch a business grow from the very early stages and know that I’m making an impact to a new industry,” she said

Stella expects the remaining 2022 and upcoming years to be exciting for her.

“As the Partnership Leader for CAE, I am excited about the potential for the AAM industry in the coming years. We have many partners who are currently in critical phases of their flight test programs, and it is immensely gratifying to have our engineers and training specialists working alongside them as they move closer to certifying their vehicles. I believe that the next few years will be immensely successful for the AAM industry, and I am proud to be a part of it.”