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From CO to CEO

A Practical Guide for Transitioning from Military to Industry Leadership

Published by Forefront Books
Distributed by Simon & Schuster

About The Book

In From CO to CEO: A Practical Guide for Transitioning from Military to Industry Leadership, William J. Toti, former CO of the nuclear submarine USS Indianapolis and former CEO of Sparton Corporation, offers a seminal manual for service members transitioning to civilian careers and navigating their rise up the corporate ladder.

You’ve served your country dutifully, and as a member of the US armed forces you’ve also developed a discipline, drive, and skillset admired the world over. Your success in the civilian job market after your military career ends is all but ensured, right?

Well, if statistics and real-life reports from your predecessors are any indication, this transition is not always smooth sailing. More than 200,000 service members separate from the military each year. More than half of those surveyed about the process felt as if they had little to no help with the transition.

That’s why William J. Toti, retired naval officer and CEO of Sparton Corporation, wrote From CO to CEO: A Practical Guide for Transitioning from Military to Industry Leadership. As someone who successfully progressed from captain of a nuclear submarine to a captain of industry, he knows what it takes to make the most of your military training and what more is needed to rise up the ranks in the C-suite.

From CO to CEO aims to help you get the most out of your industry career, thinking through the kind of company and career track that is best for you. It provides a step-by-step guide to navigating the search, interview, and negotiation process and helps you acclimate to your new environment and to accelerate your climb to the top.

About The Author

Captain William J. Toti, USN(Ret) served for more than twenty-six years on active duty, from enlisted seaman to, in turn, Commanding Officer of the nuclear submarine USS Indianapolis (SSN-697) and commodore of Submarine Squadron 3. He served for more than nine years in the Pentagon, including tours as special assistant to the Vice Chief of Naval Operations, as Navy representative to the Joint Requirements Oversight Council, and as deputy director of the Navy War Plans Cell, Deep Blue.

After transitioning to industry in 2006, Toti served in various roles, including vice president positions in Raytheon, Hewlett Packard, DXC, and HPE, and as president in Cubic Corporation and L3 Maritime Systems, eventually rising to serve as President and CEO of Sparton Corporation.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in physics from the U.S. Naval Academy, and a master’s degree in spacecraft systems engineering and pre-doctoral Electrical Engineer degree from the Naval Postgraduate School.

He was featured in the 2016 PBS documentary, 9/11: Inside the Pentagon, the 2020 History Channel documentary, 9/11: The Pentagon, and National Geographic’s twentieth anniversary limited series documentary, 9/11: One Day in America.

Among many other honors, Toti is a seven-time recipient of the Legion of Merit.

He and his wife Karen are parents of two adult children, and currently live in Florida.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Forefront Books (April 5, 2022)
  • Length: 240 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781637630648

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Raves and Reviews

“It’s impossible to transition out of the military without a good guide. From CO to CEO lays out key insights and hard-earned wisdom from a senior corporate leader who has been there and done that. It is a testament of success—like a mini-MBA, a true triumph!”

– —John Thampi, Former US Army Captain

From CO to CEO is a reality-based, practical guide that should be required reading for any military member transitioning into the civilian workforce. Bill gives a first-hand account of what works and what doesn't work outside of the military, and he helps clear the fog of uncertainty by providing actionable advice that is not based in theory.”

– —Captain Dennis Murphy, US Navy (Ret), Former Vice President, Amgen

From CO to CEO is the transition book military members need before their actual transition occurs. It is the manual for those considering making the change to industry. Just reading the book and gaining an understanding of both military and industry will make anyone who picks it up more aware and ultimately more successful.”

– COL Keith Cooper, US Army (Ret), Senior Aerospace Executive

“An insightful primer of incalculable value for every transitioning officer regardless of branch of service; full of useful tips and counterintuitive lessons based on real life experiences from one who successfully cracked the code.”

– Brigadier General William C. "Bill" David, US Army (Ret)

“Bill Toti’s book is a testament to understanding the interrelationship between military and industry, and is a must-read for those thinking of joining, and just as important for those who are already part of, this business of defense of the United States.”

– Vice Admiral Robert S. Harward, US Navy (Ret)

"William (Bill) Toti’s new book, From CO to CEO, was written for me. Not literally, of course, but it came as I began my military transition. Bill’s book highlights several critical pitfalls in making the transition, including an excellent translation of work environments, types of jobs, and how they relate to military experience. His insight into headhunters, corporate recruiters, and how we get hired through our networks was also crucial in helping me shape the search for my next career.
Listening to the audiobook during my morning commute, Bill’s use of personal stories provides a great backdrop to the knowledge and experience he shares. Being told in his own voice, the color of his experiences adds to the richness and authenticity of his story. His passion for helping the future transitioning military comes through in his stories, from meeting the Kindly Old Gentleman (Admiral Rickover, founder of the U.S. Nuclear Navy) to his interaction with business associates, civilian government employees, and Sailors still in uniform. Reading (or listening) to Bill’s book will undoubtedly help other transitioning military members avoid the many hazards in the business world.
From CO to CEO also has some great messages for those still on active duty and federal civil service employees. Bill talks about the mistaken view of all contractors as profiteers at the government expense, the wrong assumption of their pay rates, and articulates how 99.999% of those in the industry (just like their uniform counterparts) are great Americans trying to do the best job for the nation. I fell into this trap until very recently in my career. The clarity of his explanation of the perception and the more objective reality of the people involved is a great eye-opener. The Department of Defense would be well served by many more people understanding that message, both in uniform and by government civilians. Bill, thanks for a great book. I am passing it on to several of my friends."

– CAPT Ronald Stowe, USN

"This is the best coaching advice for those transitioning from military service to a civilian career. I wish I had this book when I retired. Many of us who have "been there", in both worlds, can directly relate and agree with the stories, experiences, and outcomes. Those about to transition should keep it readily available as a quick reference guide, as their new careers progress. WWBTD - What Would Bill Toti Do?

I had similar experiences as Bill, as a US Navy officer, two tours at the Pentagon, in one of which I served under Bill's leadership. We were both there on 9/11/2001 - a day that changed all of us in many profound ways. His narrative and recommendations are spot-on. A MUST HAVE.”

– Dr. Rafael E. Matos, LCDR, USN (Ret)

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