It’s a snowy Friday morning as Ericka Pittman, vice president of Combs Enterprises, settles down, coffee in hand, and begins prepping for her busy day in New York City. After traveling on a 2 a.m. red-eye flight, she explains how although she is extremely fatigued, the show must go on. Her successes at major media outlets like Time, Inc. and Conde Nast caught the attention of business mogul Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs, who hand-selected Pittman as vice president of his companies.
As Sean P. Diddy Combs’ “Sheryl Sandburg,” Pittman’s creative mind and strategic way of thinking make her one of the best brand developers in the business. As the VP, she sits at the helm of the executive team, overseeing the growth and direction of the Combs portfolio and overseeing Combs’ businesses, including Aquahydrate, Combs Wines & Spirits (CIROC, Deleon Tequila), Revolt TV and Sean John.
Besides her love of her career, Pittman has invested herself in propelling women from different walks of life to reach their highest potential. As a part of Women’s History Month, we followed her throughout her day in New York City as she discussed her journey and crucial advice to all Millennials.
Sidnee Michelle: What is your favorite thing about being Ericka Pittman?
Ericka Pittman: My heart. I have a very gum-drops-and-rainbows approach to life. I’m one of those people who will put a coin in an expired meter so no one gets a ticket or towed; I’m one of those types in my heart and in my core. Most people who have known me and know my heart see that side often, but I feel in business I’m not able to be that person 100% of the time – so I try to keep that balance.
SM: What is the most fulfilling aspect of being a woman of your stature?
EP: That giving back element – when I elevate those around me, it just feels good. For me, I try to give back even in business. Doing well by doing good is very important to me. The same way I was blessed in my career, I try and pass on the good karma by doing everything in my power to advance the next woman that deserves it.
SM: What influence does Sean P. Diddy Combs have on your career? What did he teach you early on?
EP: Sean Combs has taught me to utilize every tool in my tool box, to make the impossible possible. He taught me how not to take no as an answer – that no is the beginning of negotiations to get what you want. He also taught me to be strategic about how you go about getting what you want – with class elegance urgency and fine execution. If I didn’t have that leadership in my life early on, I’m not sure I’d be where I am today.
SM: Besides Sean P. Diddy Combs, who are some of your influences and mentors?
EP: Just recently I started to acquire female mentors. I discovered as I was growing in my career there was a need of a feminine aspect and guidance in business that I was lacking. I’ll walk into a high intensity board room like a bull in a china shop – stern and aggressive, because that’s what I learned from my male mentors and counterparts. I realized that I had to learn how to finesse my approach from female mentors like Susan De’Passe , who worked with Motown and had hands in discovering the Jackson 5.
SM: How did you rise to the top in such a male dominated industry?
EP: I think I there is a certain level of integrity I have. I demand a certain amount of respect because of the way I present myself in business and personal life. You have to conduct yourself a certain way in both realms – while still being able to maintain your identity and a strong and powerful woman.
SM: How do you maintain a healthy work/personal life balance?
EP: It’s tricky at this company because of the brands/companies I work with. Celebration is our core tenant, so we do awesome activations, parties and events. Things like those bleed into my personal time because of the frequency and late hours of these events. To combat that I think it’s important to be 100% present in the moment that you are in.