“Failure was not an option,” says Ericka Pittman of her childhood and the experiences that shaped the woman she’s become. As a businesswoman breaking down barriers and leading the charge in a male-dominated industry for more than two decades, this native New Yorker is achieving the goals she set for herself as a young girl.
Setting the Bar High
For Pittman, growing up in a single-family home wasn’t an obstacle to overcome. With a mother who ensured her daughter was exposed to culture, travel, and history, Pittman says she was always curious about life outside the Brooklyn neighborhood in which she grew up.
“My mother instilled in me a passion to be excellent at whatever I do,” says Pittman. “I take stock in what I have and the opportunities I’ve been afforded, and I feel lucky to have had a mother who did all of that for me.”
No stranger to hard work, Pittman held a full-time position in the advertising department at iVillage, a media company geared toward women, while simultaneously working toward her degree in corporate communications at Baruch College.
After that, she went on to numerous other companies in the media industry, including Vanguard Media, Time Inc., Glamour magazine, Vibe Vixen magazine, and Interactive One, before she felt the need to make a change. After spending an extensive amount of time focused on sales, she was ready to switch gears and concentrate on marketing.
A meeting with Amani Duncan, chief marketing officer at Combs Enterprises at the time, laid out the path for Pittman’s next journey. In 2009, Pittman officially joined Blue Flame Agency – a company owned by entertainment mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs – as vice president of brand strategy. Two years later, the hard-working businesswoman climbed the corporate ladder with a promotion to vice president of Blue Flame; last year, she was promoted to VP, Chairmans’ Office of Combs Enterprises.
“Having Sean Combs curate a position for my skill set has by far been my favorite moment in my career,” she says.
Because being a woman in business isn’t always easy, Pittman says there are certain skills necessary for success. “We need to have a thick skin, work harder and smarter, keep our professional lives separate from our personal lives, and learn how to play in the boys’ space,” she says.
One of her “Pittman Rules” is a simple adage: Be excellent and 100 percent committed to what you’re doing because people are always watching, and be urgent about moving your career forward.
Taking her own advice, Pittman is constantly propelling her career upward. In addition to her blog, LWACE (Life With A Capital E), and her job co-hosting the podcast “He Say, She Say” with Nino Beige, which offers listeners a male/female perspective on relationships, pop culture, and more, Pittman is now adding “author” to her resume.
Her book, “What Mommy Never Told You,” which hits bookstores later this year, is a “how to” book that targets young women to help prepare them for the next step in both their personal and professional lives. After receiving guidance in her own life from mentors, she wanted to share what she learned with other young women.
Not only that, but Pittman took another step outside her comfort zone in 2014 when she appeared on Bravo’s “The Singles Project,” an interactive dating show featuring single, young professionals trying to find love in New York City.
Being part of the show was a bit of a stretch for the private Pittman, but she says that exposing her vulnerability and allowing cameras to show a softer side made her all the more dynamic. “It was one of the most rewarding decisions of my life,” she says. “The experience also helped me comprehend and understand that vulnerability is a power tool, not a hindrance.”
Despite her busy schedule, Pittman is active in causes close to her heart. She’s involved with organizations such as the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship, where she works with young people from low-income communities to find a path to success; Dress for Success, a not-for- profit organization that empowers women to achieve economic independence by providing support, professional attire, and the tools necessary to thrive in work and in life; and Advertising Women of New York, an organization that empowers women in the industry to achieve personal and professional fulfillment at each stage of their career.
“It’s very important for me to help young people identify who they are and what they want to be,” says Pittman.
For a woman who has a lot on her plate, it all comes down to finding balance. “It’s about being present in every single aspect of your life,” she says. “It can be difficult because we wear so many hats. The key is to focus on who you are with or what you are doing in that moment.”
This year brought another important milestone in Pittman’s life: she recently turned 40 and is excited about what lies ahead. “The best is yet to come,” she says. “I am honored and blessed that God has given me so much life.”
Looking to the future, Pittman is dedicated to growing the projects in which she’s currently involved. She is passionate about vitality and making it sexy for women to focus on their health and wellness, which is why she launched an initiative appropriately titled “Finding 40.” “I’m looking forward to making 40 fun and sexy; it’s what turning this age is all about,” she says.
“I am my greatest self when doing the things that make me my best self,” says Pittman. “I am doing now what I’ve always envisioned.”
IG: Ericka Pittman
Contributed by Alexandra Anastasio