WASHINGTON ― CAE’s defence and security group president is departing the Quebec-based training and simulation firm after five months to take a job elsewhere, and CAE’s Heidi Wood will serve in the interim.

Todd Probert, a former Raytheon executive, will step down June 26 to pursue an unspecified job opportunity within the U.S. national security community, CAE announced Tuesday. The move comes as the coronavirus pandemic has blunted projections for a strong year in CAE’s defense segment.

Wood, who recently joined CAE as executive vice president for business development and growth initiatives, will act as interim leader while the firm searches for Probert’s replacement, CAE President and CEO Marc Parent said in a statement.

“Todd’s first passion is for the U.S. National Security community and he has decided to step down from his role at CAE to pursue a job opportunity in that domain. We wish him success in his new role,” Parent said, adding: "Our Defence business is comprised of an excellent global team and we will continue supporting our customers with the most innovative training and mission solutions.”

In a previous role, Wood served as senior vice president of corporate strategy and technology at L3 Technologies, where she led its merger with Harris Corporation, resulting in it becoming the sixth largest defense prime in the U.S.

Probert, who recently led the Command, Control, Space & Intelligence business unit as part of Raytheon’s Intelligence, Information and Services segment, succeeded Gene Colabatistto, who retired from CAE in December 2019.

CAE is one of many defense and aerospace firms whose businesses have been hit by the pandemic-related slowdown in air travel.

On a March 31 earnings call, Parent said Probert was the process of “bolstering operational efficiencies and effectiveness in expanding its addressable market” as the company expected the pandemic to complicate efforts to reach certain program milestones. CAE was working with defense customers to secure more favorable terms for milestone payments, offering contract modifications to increase work scope and working with suppliers for extended payment terms.

“A range of programs with defense and OEM customers globally saw project advancement delays due to travel bans, client access restrictions and supply chain restrictions ― and disruptions,” Parent said. “Also, we had delays to contract awards, as government acquisition authorities followed directives in their respective countries to shelter-in-place and eliminate travel.”

Joe Gould was the senior Pentagon reporter for Defense News, covering the intersection of national security policy, politics and the defense industry. He had previously served as Congress reporter.

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