Friday, June 16, 2017

Leigh Pittman’s First Job Will Make You Laugh

By Lucy M. Pritchett




Leigh Pittman once played Easter bunny at a local shopping center. Now she is director of information technology at Brown-Forman. She has also worked in the world of finance and investments. She says she has learned to soften her Type A personality, although to talk to her you wouldn’t know it. She has had quite a career path, and she shares the lessons she has learned along the way. Photo by Melissa Donald.


What do you do?
I buy technology for the IT department — hardware, software, IT services. I also do strategic buying for other areas of the company. I negotiate a lot of contracts. I’m always looking for a bargain for myself, which fits right in with my job. I also assist our global offices in technology procurement.

What has been your path?
I’ve been at Brown-Forman since 1999. I have had other positions with the company — global project management and IT security. I had an opportunity to be business systems director for five and a half years, where I spent time with other businesses in the company. That gave me a great overview. Before that I worked for Aegon as technology manager.

Your first job?
I worked at Southland Terrace as an Easter bunny. I was 14 years old and worked there until I was 17. I went from bunny to Christmas elf. You have to have a good sense of humor to play those characters.

What have you accepted about yourself?
I can’t do everything or please everyone. Type A people want to do it alI. I’ve learned how to prioritize what’s important.

How have you changed professionally?
I took a conservative role and stayed the safer route where I had the most confidence. It took me a while to see that stepping out of my comfort zone expands my opportunities. I have continued to grow and adapt not only with the work but with the employees. The workforce is full of millennials and baby boomers, and they each have different styles and ideas. You have to learn how to be effective with both.

Favorite smell?
Cinnamon because it is so warm and comforting.

How do you relax?
I don’t. (Laughs) Actually I try to stay in the moment. Whether I’m doing a volunteer activity or reading a book, to just be totally in that moment relaxes me.

Advice to younger self?
Don’t be afraid to step outside the boundaries and try something new.

Words to live by?
Cherish those special people, and let them know you cherish them.

What inspires you?
I love volunteering and mentoring young people. I have watched our interns grow. They start as interns, then go to college and graduate, have their first job, get married. The nice part is I’m taking that journey with them.

Community involvement?
I am one of the founders and past president of Women Influencing Louisville. It grew out of a woman’s program at Brown-Forman. It is an external connections group. We now have members from 11 major employers in the city. Our goal is to improve leadership for women and give back to the community.

Book that influenced you?
The Christmas Jar by Jason Wright. It’s about gift-giving...paying it forward. It provided insight on how little things can make a big difference.

Three words to describe you?
Energetic, loving, passionate.

Pet peeve?
People looking at their phones or typing during a meeting.

Must have every day?
Monster Energy drink. I try not to have more than two. But some days I start early and end late.

Changes you would like to see in Louisville?
I think we need to highlight what Louisville has to offer more than we do. We have arts, a beautiful riverfront, and great companies in the city. Maybe push a little harder through the major corporations so that people see Louisville through different eyes. This could be during recruiting or just highlighting the city and not the corporation. Greg Fischer does a great job of talking to other mayors about Louisville.

Parting words:
Balancing life between work and pleasure is crucial and makes for a better person. I was the one always giving my vacation days back and working overtime, and I ended up frazzled. I see how much you miss out on with family and friends. I do a better job when I’m recharged.

This category is sponsored by Women Influencing Louisville.

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