REEL WOMEN: Elephant Group VP Erica Riccobono

(REEL WOMAN: Erica Riccobono)

Editor’s Note: They are leaders. They are inspirational. They are mentors. They are visionaries. They are, quite frankly, badasses. They are our 2021 REEL WOMEN. During Women’s History Month, you will be able to meet these incredible personalities in Advertising, Entertainment, Media and Production. Get ready, they are making “Herstory.”

Erica Riccobono joined Elephant in 2016 in a Client Services leadership role in the Brooklyn headquarters, most recently transitioning to oversee New Business for the agency. 

Prior to this role, she spent sixteen years in the agency world at Huge, Digitas and Hill Holliday with a brief visit to the client side at Gilt Groupe.

What’s your origin story?

I’m originally from New Jersey, went to school in DC and have lived and worked in New York City for the past sixteen years. It’s an East Coast story!

How did you get into advertising?

My entry into the industry was a bit of a fluke. I was an English major trying unsuccessfully to get into publishing when a friend referred me to a recruiter who got me an interview to be an assistant at an agency. I was dying to get a job, so while skeptical, I went for it – but only after calling my college roommate who had a business degree and asking her to “explain marketing” to me the day before my interview.

I immediately loved the creativity, the people, the challenges, the intensity – and here I still am, many years later.

Give a shout out to your mentors.

I’ve been lucky enough to have had really amazing mentors at every job I’ve had, often bringing me with them to the next one. But the two most consistent voices in my career are actually two former agency colleagues who turned into two dear friends – so not your typical mentor profile!

Susie Lyons and Katie Stanford are women that I met early in my career, who are still in the industry and who have helped me stay sane, excited and motivated over the past decade plus, teaching me most importantly that almost any professional problem can be successfully hashed out over a beer.

While there will be others, what do you consider your biggest achievement to date?

That’s a big question. Most recently, I’ve transitioned from an account leadership role to overseeing business development. While it’s still relatively new (perhaps too soon to call an achievement) I am proud of taking on a new challenge within this industry.

It’s easy to get comfortable – mixing things up keeps you on your toes which is incredibly important in this field.

How about your biggest disappointment?

Even bigger question! I think one of the tough parts of this industry is seeing some amazing creative ideas not make it to market. Whether it’s a pitch or client work, when the team has worked hard and the idea is good, it’s always disappointing that the world doesn’t get to see it.

If being a woman is your superpower, how has it helped you?

I think a big opportunity that all of us women have is to create a better work environment for the next generation. I’m not sure if it’s a superpower, but women before us have done it, and we can do it now.  

What’s your Kryptonite?

Overthinking things. I’m getting better at trusting my instincts but it’s a work in progress. I’m lucky that there’s not much time in the New Business process – that’s certainly helped me learn to go with my gut.

How did a combination of pandemic, Black Lives Matter and QAnon affect you?

This has certainly been a year of intense loss and reflection and it’s been hard for everyone. I’ve learned from and been inspired by the moment we’re living in and the resilience and strength that so many people have shown, but there is still a lot of work to be done.

What can the industry do better to promote true inclusion?

I think many brands and agencies have really started to focus on inclusion in a different way in this past year.

I’m proud that Elephant has made a commitment to change, has made DEI core to how we work and has opened up conversations that weren’t previously being had. It’s a good start and it needs to happen industry-wide.

If you’re Batwoman, who’s Robin?

My family. They’ve been incredibly supportive of my commitment to my career, especially my husband. He gets a special shout out for putting up with working in the same home as me for the past year.

Thank goodness for his sound canceling headphones…

What’s the engine that pulls you?

The best part of this industry – making cool stuff with cool people.

Climb into a time machine and tell your 15-year-old self something.

You’re reading a LOT of books – maybe throw a marketing one into the mix?”

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