Accounting Expert Shares His Story of Adversity and Triumph

February 21, 2020
Vito Cosmo, CPA, MST, CGMA on the NASDAQ screen in Times Square, NYC.

With more than 30 years of experience, accounting professional Vito A. Cosmo, Jr., CPA, MST, CGMA has developed what he calls his “success formula” for business. And that formula begins with a college degree. “It all starts here,” he said during his presentation for GMercyU's Business Leadership Speaker Series. Proper education is crucial to making a name for yourself in your career of choice, as well as your choices throughout college, including internships, extracurricular activities, and your connections with professors.

Cosmo made a name for himself as a partner of a “Big Four” accounting firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), focusing on state and local taxes (SALT). His decision to specialize in SALT is another component of his success formula. In his “Achieving Success While Overcoming Adversity” presentation, Cosmo explained how specializing in a high-demand and low-supply expertise, among other things, can take you a long way.

Throughout his presentation, Cosmo cited specific ways in which to utilize his success formula: preparing for and earning applicable certifications that can supplement your profession; pursuing advanced degrees in a related field; and choosing a desirable specialization. All are all critical components to make you stand out in the workplace and set you up for success.

But these degrees and titles alone won’t bring you success. You need to pair them with your own personal attitude and work ethic to be successful. Cosmo says you need to be the “go-to guy” who is responsive and thinks outside the box. Model yourself after mentors who can guide you in work, personal life, and beyond. Do what you love. Build your personal brand through networking and resume building. Hone your communication skills in both personal one-on-one situations as well as public speaking. Work hard and take pride in your work. Don’t be afraid to take calculated risks. And last, but certainly not least, take care of your health.

For Cosmo, though, he hit quite a large bump while following his success formula. During his presentation, he shared his personal story of life with Parkinson’s Disease and how he refused to let his disability define him.

With his Parkinson’s diagnosis in August 2012, what is typically an earth-shattering revelation left Cosmo feeling unfazed, and more relieved to finally have a label for the symptoms and frustrations he’d been dealing with, which included loss of smell, tremors, fatigue, and more. He found support through his wife and family and through The Parkinson Council, a local organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for people and families managing Parkinson’s Disease in the Delaware Valley region.

Although Parkinson’s is a debilitating illness that presently has no cure or distinguishable cause, it can be managed, and Cosmo learned quickly that the first step to overcoming his disability is his mindset. “I am facing my disease head-on with a positive attitude,” Cosmo said in his presentation. He’s embraced the Parkinson’s community and has found additional support and opportunities there. He manages his symptoms with medications, supplements, exercise, and a dopamine-rich diet. Above all, Cosmo relies on his sense of humor to keep moving forward and remain optimistic.

Even while overcoming Parkinson’s Disease, Cosmo has proved himself as a successful leader in the accounting and business sector, and that no matter what obstacles you face, with the proper success formula and can-do attitude, you can achieve greatness.

Vito Cosmo’s presentation was a part of GMercyU’s Business Leadership Speaker Series for the 2019-2020 academic year. The School of Business and Education is hosting this informational speaker series that features a variety of business experts who will share their expertise on timely topics such as cybersecurity, marketing, investing, and more. All talks are open to the GMercyU community and the outside community.