It’s not every day that Hispanic Executive gets to check in with an executive more than a decade after their first appearance in the magazine. In 2012, Nicolas Perez Stable was serving as senior vice president (SVP) and lead counsel at GE Capital Aviation Services. In any room he walked into, Stable had the weight of the GE name behind him. But the size of GE, like any massive organization, meant Stable’s chances of continuing to grow into a more prominent role might be a long way off.
“Had I stayed at GE, it might have taken a very long time to get to the role I have today,” Stable says. “Instead of waiting my turn at a larger organization, I decided to take a leap out of the safety of that nest and into private equity, where I knew I could make a bigger impact.”
In essence, Stable has spread his wings. As both chief operating officer and chief legal officer at Wings Capital Partners, he has repeatedly gambled on himself over the past decade, seeking out chances to evolve and contribute significantly at the intersection of aviation and private equity.
It’s not necessarily a “happily ever after” story but, for Stable, that’s precisely the point. After leaving GE, Stable took on an incredibly challenging turnaround role in oil and gas at a time when the market was at its worst. That private equity backed company, CHC Helicopter, went through an extensive restructuring that while successfully culminating in a half a billion-dollar capital raise, wasn’t the long-term business environment where Stable knew he would thrive.
“I have worked through boom times and crisis times at every stage in my career,” Stable says. “When I began at Wings, the challenge was how fast we could grow our aircraft portfolio. And, up until COVID, we doubled the portfolio every year, amassing $2 billion in aircraft at our peak. But then COVID hit, and we faced a different set of operational and financial challenges.”
While the pandemic hit the aviation sphere with severity, Stable says his previous experience continued to pay dividends. He’d already worked through a severe financial crisis and the deep downturn in oil and gas, so surely, he could help navigate a global pandemic in aviation.
“All of my adaptability and creativity managing through crises just came back to the forefront,” Stable explains. “I’ve spent my career working through complicated and challenging situations, and I was able to bring this experience to the private equity setting. Everyone had to hunker down to make it through COVID, but what I found was that it was imperative to understand the stressors and discuss them openly with our customers and the board to solve the problems.”
Stable believes that openness and transparency are a part of the Hispanic identity that have shaped his leadership and adaptability across multiple spaces and business cycles. Outside of his day job, Stable has been an active member of the Hispanic National Bar Association’s PODER25 initiative to increase the number of Hispanic attorneys occupying senior positions within corporate legal departments.
Stable has spoken on panels on behalf of the organization, but more importantly, he believes, is the one-on-one interaction and mentorship he’s always ready to engage in. Stable’s mantra is “My Rolodex is your Rolodex,” and he’s always prepared to make a connection and help others who may be at a crossroads in their career. Stable knows the challenge of leaving a large organization in search of a place where you can make a larger impact, and he wants to help more Latinos find their way to do that in the private equity space.
“I’ve mentored some executives who were a step away from being a general counsel or in private practice looking to go in-house,” Stable explains. “I want to be there to help those people make that big step and encourage them to bet on themselves. Sometimes it’s hard to take the leap and the risk, but I tell people that doing so can be meaningful and life changing.”
The Important Time
This stage is an important one for Stable, too. He has successfully transitioned into a new space, from a massive organization to a smaller team where his efforts make a far wider impact on the company’s bottom line. He’s helped manage organizations through very tough times, and the bets he’s placed on himself every step of the way have continued to pay off.
One area, however, in which he is not willing to gamble is his family. The father of four says he proudly wears his family on his sleeve and believes that a balance between work and family is paramount. It’s not uncommon for one of Stable’s children to poke their head into a video call with his team now and then, and the executive says that the value he places on his family has greatly impacted the way he leads his team at work.
“I try to model how much I value my family to my team so that they feel open to doing the same,” Stable says. “The best way to encourage people to take the time they need to be with their loved ones is by doing it yourself.”
For Stable, that means Friday nights will always be family movie nights with his kids. And although it may not be quite as relaxing, the executive also a mean chef who leans into his Cuban heritage by cooking for and celebrating with others. Sprinkle in a weekly pick-up basketball game with his friends, and a dash of yoga, and Stable seems to have found the perfect recipe for having it all, and all of it in service to those around him.