Ericka Pittman Talks Career Lessons from Diddy and Being a Power Woman in Business
Black Enterprise magazine Fall 2019 issue

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Image: Ericka Pittman

You have years of experience working in the industry and have been at Combs Enterprises since 2009. How does Combs Enterprise differ from any other jobs you’ve had?

This company is a completely different country from anything that I’ve ever experienced. It’s interesting because I’ve operated in a few different entrepreneurial environments. I’ve worked at iVillage.com, which happened to be an entrepreneur entity at the time. Vanguard media was another entrepreneurial environment. I’ve also worked at Giant magazine, Interactive One and I’ve also worked at Time, Inc., which is a publicly traded company and the large media firm Conde Nast. So I’ve been in both environments and I have to say Combs Enterprises is the most impressive of them all. I think that the paradigm that we implore in this organization basically embodies the DNA of Sean Combs. You know this sort of irreverent fervor where he just gets things done no matter what it is. It is not impossible if you can put your mind to it and muster the muscles to get it done. It can actually happen. And I think it’s evident in all the businesses that he’s been able to successfully create as a result of that personality trait. It’s the hardest that I’ve ever worked in my entire life, but it is the most rewarding and I’ve been the most successful at this company versus any other company I’ve worked for.

What is one of the biggest career lessons you’ve learned from Mr. Combs?

I say this often and it sounds so cliché, but anything is possible.

Have you faced any challenges while working your way up the career ladder? If so, how did you overcome those challenges?

You know, I don’t like the word challenge. I think that words have power and I prefer to take a different approach. Obstacles perhaps, because those things make you stronger. If you can overcome an obstacle, then nine times out of ten you exercise a muscle that perhaps you have not exercised before and by way of exercising it you become stronger. So, I look at it as obstacles and yes certainly I’ve experienced some on a day-to-day basis. I think it is a tremendous challenge to be a woman of color in business, but at the same time for me it has been one of the most rewarding positions because it’s made me more nimble, more agile and it’s made me think faster, think smarter, multi-task more acutely and quite frankly it’s made me a superior power player in my career because I was operating from this sort of obstacle to begin with. It’s really challenging when you’re with men on a day-to-day basis. I can admit that. But it will be the equivalent of a woman trying to physically run a race against a man. It’s not that you can’t win it’s just that you have to run faster and be stronger to try to win.

How would you describe your leadership style?

I am very inclusive. I’m a macro manager almost to a fault. I have a lot of confidence in the team that I have created and I like to give people the opportunity to screw up. Basically, you have to take ownership of your career and your decisions and if you make the decision to not step up to the plate that’s your responsibility. But at the same time, I hold people completely accountable to what they’re capable of. So when you fall short of what you’re capable of there are very rigid and extreme consequences as a result of it. So my leadership style can be fun and it’s super flexible and sort of care free, but at the same time there are certain basic business practices that if they are not met there are severe consequences that are associated with that.

What advice do you have for young professionals who are just getting started in their career?

You have to start from somewhere. You cannot expect to graduate from college and suddenly be Sean Combs. You don’t deserve it. It’s not owed to you and you haven’t done anything to prove yourself. Far too often, a lot of this talent pool, because they are extremely talented in the way they think and their approach to business and understanding consumer insights, they just have this sort of entitlement that quite honestly is crippling them in their success. I would offer that you be patient. You take a role that is on par with your skill set, put your ego in your pocket and learn every single thing you can learn about what ever position you’re in so that you can grow into the next position.

 

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