Latino leaders in partnership with Alpfa
Ted Acosta is EY Americas Vice Chair-Risk Management for Ernst & Young LLP, headquartered in New York City. In this Q&A interview, Ted talks about his family background and education, as well as the importance of diversity and inclusion at Ernst & Young.
Tell us about your upbringing, education, family background - some experiences you had as a youth, your dreams and wishes growing up.
My upbringing was very simple, but full of diversity. I lived in the U.S., Europe and the Caribbean, which taught me to adapt to very diverse environments from an early age. I was also fortunate that my family placed a great emphasis on education, not only to expand my mind, but also as a foundation for a promising future. I still remember that for my 10th birthday I was given a full library (encyclopedia, novels, dictionaries) and a desk! Thankfully, for that Christmas I did get the bike I wanted. These two gifts formed a good allegory for what my life has been since: a sense of enjoyment out of learning new things, and a quest for travel and being mobile. My career has been ruled by those two tenets. Every job or opportunity I have taken, without exception, placed me in a position of having to learn new things, even if sometimes I felt overwhelmed and out of my element. My jobs have also always involved significant travel, especially overseas, where the simplest tasks can seem completely new when viewed through a different cultural lens.
How and why did you get to work in Ernst & Young? Could you share some stories of your career there and some previous positions you held?
I began my career as an attorney in private practice, focused on regulatory and white-collar crime matters. Within a few years I had the opportunity to work for the federal government in an enforcement role, which I took without hesitation. Working in private practice was the best education I could have ever gotten in respect to acquiring discipline, shaping my work ethic, elevating my sophistication as a provider of services to clients, and learning the craft - whereas working for the U.S. government felt differently. On the one hand, I was learning a lot, even at a faster pace given the greater amount of responsibilities one gets as a young government lawyer. It was exciting (and humbling) to find myself opposite senior law firm attorneys whose years of experience were as many as my age! It forces one to learn quickly. On the other hand, being a...