Richard Castellano sailing his yacht.

While on his collegiate journey to becoming a health professional, Richard Castellano (BSBA ’82) realized his dream was to travel the world — and that his path to achieving his goals was through business. His decision to switch majors eventually led to a 38-year career in government contracting that paved the way for him to visit 68 countries, circle the world several times and — ultimately — his perfect retirement job at sea.

Castellano shares his journey to and through business, as well as some helpful advice he received at Ohio State that helped position him today as a yacht captain in retirement.

What's the most interesting fact about you that isn't on your resume or LinkedIn profile?

I went to Ohio State to become a dentist. I completed most of the pre-requisites for pre-dentistry, but my heart wasn’t in it and my grades showed it. It was my father’s dream not mine.

I changed to business because I wanted to travel the world and make big deals. As a result, I had a very successful career and traveled to 68 different countries, met with heads of state, princes, ambassadors and major CEOs. I circumnavigated the globe countless times, traveling over 3 million miles. I accomplished what I set out to achieve.

Speaking of accomplishments, do you have any recent ones?

My most recent accomplishment is achieving the certification of U.S. Coast Guard captain with a Master license for near coastal 100 gross tons, with a sailing and towing endorsement. While this doesn’t sound like business it is. This license allows me to captain a ferry or harbor boat, sailing schooner, dive boat or whale watching boat. The sailing endorsement enables me to operate an inspected sailing vessel that can carry seven or more passengers, while the towing endorsement maintains that I am equipped with the knowledge and know-how to safely tow a disabled vessel.

Aside from being the captain of my own ocean-going sailing yacht, I’m also the COO of Fountaine Pajot North American at Atlantic Cruising Yachts in Annapolis, Maryland. I found the perfect retirement job to keep me busy.

I was previously the CEO for a small government contractor — Strategic Tech Solutions, LLC — that another Ohio State grad and I built up over the past seven years and sold a few months ago. Prior to that, I held various CFO positions over a 31-year career with Lockheed Martin — the last was with Lockheed Martin Global Solutions and, prior to that, Lockheed Martin Space systems.

Since graduating, what are you most proud of?

I am most proud of having a successful enough career that enabled me to provide great educations for my wife, who is an archivist and our five sons, two of which are lawyers, one is a doctor, the other an engineer, and one is a very successful influencer. Having Ohio State on my resume always opened doors for me.

How has your business degree equipped, prepared you or made a difference in your career?

A very wise law professor at Ohio State told me that my college education wasn’t intended to prepare me for my first job as much as it would prepare me for my last job. I took that to heart and learned to constantly build on the foundation that Ohio State helped me build.

Now for some favorites:

Favorite business faculty member or mentor? Favorite business school-related memory?

I no longer recall the names of the faculty, but they were fantastic: my law professor who invited me to his home for Thanksgiving because I lived too far to get home, and my Econ 101 professor who gave me all the right basics to set a course for my future in the business world.

What advice would you give to a current student or a new Fisher graduate?

Focus on what you want to be, not what your next job is.

Also, during your lifetime you should develop five sources of income. Some can be passive. This will give you the security and confidence to make braver and smarter decisions in your main career.

Thanks to Fisher and Ohio State's extensive network of alumni and friends...

I was able retire from my big corporate job at age 55 and create a new, successful government contracting startup with my Ohio State partner. Doing this allowed me to prove to myself that I had all the skills needed to build a company and that it wasn’t just the big corporation that allowed me to be successful. Having that Ohio State partner who had my back made all the difference.

What causes, organizations or topics motivate you to action personally? Why?

Organizations that are true change agents motivate me. New innovative approaches, angles and business models make me think the next big idea is just around the corner and I want it to be mine.

What's the best piece of advice you've ever received?

My dad told me, “Don’t worry about what other people are making or doing. Focus on where you want to be, where you’re going and keep your nose to the grindstone and earn it.”

Having Ohio State on my resume always opened doors for me.

Richard CastellanoBSBA '82