How Did I Get Here?

Dr. Delos ‘Toby’ Cosgrove

President and chief executive officer, Cleveland Clinic
  • Education
  • Watertown High School, Watertown, N.Y., class of 1958
  • Williams College, Williamstown, Mass., class of 1962
  • University of Virginia School of Medicine, Charlottesville, class of 1966
  • Work Experience
  • 1963–64
    Crew member on the Nefertiti, America’s Cup competitor
  • 1966–68
    Surgical intern, resident, Strong Memorial Hospital, Rochester, N.Y.
  • 1968–70
    Chief of U.S. Air Force casualty staging flight, Da Nang, Vietnam; surgeon, Hamilton AFB, Calif.
  • 1970–74
    Surgical resident, Massachusetts General Hospital
  • 1974
    Chief resident of cardiac surgery, Boston Children’s Hospital
  • 1975–2007
    Cardiac surgeon, Cleveland Clinic
  • 2004–Present
    President and CEO, Cleveland Clinic
  • Life Lessons
  • “What can be conceived can be created.”
  • “Never give up, never give up, never give up.”
  • Demonstrating the blood conservation technology he invented, 1980. Today, Cosgrove has 30 patents for surgical products.
  • “One day, the guy below deck announced that it was a sewer and he wasn’t going down there anymore, so I took his job. My nickname was Sewer Man, and ever since, America’s Cup boats have that position.”
  • “We had 100 beds and two doctors and evacuated 22,000 sick and wounded. On my days off, I flew combat missions and worked in a Vietnamese hospital.”
  • Performing surgery at the Cleveland Clinic, 2006
  • “They were doing 3,000 coronary bypasses a year, so I instantly became one of the busiest heart surgeons in the country.”
  • “I was a pretty good student in a not very academically inclined high school.”
  • “I was a history major. It was the only thing I could major in, because my grades were so bad in everything else.”
  • Providing health services to families in Vietnam, 1968
  • “One day I was reading the newspaper to a teacher I was dating, and she said, ‘You’re dyslexic.’ She was right.”
  • “Heart surgery is an athletic event, and I was getting to the point where perhaps I needed to stop. I was considering venture capital, and then the CEO announced his retirement and asked me to throw my hat in.”
  • With his wife and daughters, 2000