CACI CEO explains succession, retirement plans

Paul Cofoni, whose retirement as president and CEO at CACI International, was announced yesterday, said stepping down has been part of the company’s transition plans for the past couple of years.

And he already has a lengthy to-do list when he returns to his native Rhode Island later this year to prove it.

“I’ve joined a golf club, a beach club and a yacht club,” he said, adding that his “yacht” is only a 17-foot Boston Whaler, but it’s big enough for him.

His No. 1 objective is to spend more time with his six grandchildren, including the latest born in May. “I’ve missed a lot of Little League games and soccer games and crew races and softball games,” he said.

Also on the list is a trip to Italy to visit his ancestors’ home town in Calabria, among other places, he told Washington Technology.

Asked why he announced his planned December retirement now, Cofoni said, “I think it’s just about the right time” but he denied that the company’s condition or the unsettled federal marketplace with its unresolved funding issues played any role in the decision.

“Over two years ago I expressed to the board that I thought calendar year ’12 was the right time frame for me [to retire] and we began right at that time to go through a succession planning process,” he said. “And at that time we launched a search for my replacement. We selected Dan [Allen], who was our first choice.”

Allen has spent the past year working closely with Cofoni, observing how a CEO runs a company and interacts with customers and its board.

The idea, Cofoni said, is to ensure a smooth transition when Allen takes over at the start of the new year.

“Dan had six or seven months as chief operating officer. Now he’s had another half year as the president of U.S. operations, so he’s had all of those how-does-CACI-do, where are all the skeletons, how does CACI does this, how does CACI do that [experiences]. He’s now had the CEO-level experiences … he’s ready. He’s more than ready,” he said.

Cofoni had a similar transitional experience, coming to CACI from Computer Sciences Corp., and spending two years as president of CACI’s U.S. Operations. In that role he worked closely with the board and Executive Chairman J.P. (Jack) London “to get ready for my own transition” to CEO.

Cofoni cited CACI’s transition practice to prove that his retirement was not at all related to the current federal market or was in any way prompted by other CEO-level executives who’ve announced their retirement in recent days.

“I can’t speak for them, but here it plays zero [percent],” he said. “I’ve been through up cycles, I’ve been through down cycles. I would not turn away from the business because of the current market conditions.”

In fact, he added, “Actually, I think current market conditions offer great opportunities going forward.”

Cofoni also insisted that he “would not leave the company if I didn’t think it was running well and able to continue to grow.”

“It is operating as well as any organization I’ve ever run,” he added. “This operation in every way you can measure it is performing at [its] peak. That doesn’t mean it can’t do better because you can always do better.”

Under Cofoni's leadership, CACI's revenue grew from $1.6 billion in 2005 to a projected $3.8 billion in fiscal 2012.

The number of employees likewise has grown from 9,500 to more than 14,500 over that time, including the integration of more than 20 acquisitions, according to the June 6 company announcement.

Cofoni will retire to a condo home in Westerly, R.I., in what is billed as “an active adult community,” he said.

But for a CEO who’s only 64 and has been far more active in the Arlington, Va., corporate headquarters than most of his new neighbors probably have been in the seaside community, he said,“They don’t look as active as I’d like them. My wife and I wonder where the active part is.”

A seat on the condo board for Cofoni could change that situation in a hurry.

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