Raising a daughter, I think a lot about the workplace that she will likely enter in a few short years. She will find a significantly different marketplace than the one her mother, and particularly her grandmother, entered. There will be considerably more opportunities for her; however, I find that the world still sends very confusing messages to women in marketplace. Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, rekindled the public discussion about successful women in the marketplace with her best-selling book Lean In. She noted, “We can each define ambition and progress for ourselves. The goal is to work toward a world where expectations are not set by the stereotypes that hold us back, but by our personal passion, talents, and interests.” My interviewee this week, Ashley Pittman, is a great example of someone who has achieved success by following her own passion and interests. She is a successful attorney and has built a career in helping others.
Pittman is a native of Jackson and earned her undergraduate and law degrees at Ole Miss. Upon graduation from law school, she clerked for a year with the Mississippi Supreme Court before joining the law firm of Stubblefield & Yelverton, PLLC. During her 15-year legal career she has also been raising two children and went back and earned a LLM in tax law from the University of Alabama. Today, her practice areas include Estate/Tax Panning, Asset Protection, Fertility Law/Assisted Reproduction Technology (ART) Law, Establishment of Parental Rights, Surrogacy, Embryo Donation and Adoption. In addition, Pittman serves as General Counsel for Hurst Review Services, an international test preparation company based in Brookhaven.
Pittman is in the forefront of the emerging area of Fertility Law. She explained, “Through my estate planning and probate work, I became interested in the impact of modern fertility technology on both estate planning and parental rights.” Pittman serves Of Counsel to the International Fertility Law Group, Inc. and the Reproductive Law Group, Inc. She noted, “Fertility medicine and reproductive technologies are rapidly changing, and the law is trying to keep up.” Based on her expertise, Pittman was asked to write a chapter in Professor Debbie Bell’s book Bell on Mississippi Family Law, and Professor Bell has Pittman speak each semester to her family law class at Ole Miss on the topic.
I asked Pittman about the secrets to her success in juggling a busy career with family and other life responsibilities. She noted, “I have been very fortunate to work with colleagues who have provided me flexibility over the years.” For young women, she emphasizes that there is a way to find some balance but you have to work hard to achieve it. She said, “Females need to approach the work force with a strong positive attitude. As long as they do that, good things will follow.” Pittman also shared, “The career path that you may envision today may change as you progress. As you gain life experience, you will also gain new interests and passions. Allow your path to change and adjust your goals along the way.”
We also discussed how important it is to ask for what you want.
While you may not always get exactly what you want, you never get what you don’t ask for.
Mississippi has many success female professionals and executives. Many of these are acknowledged each year in the MBJ’s Top 50 Leading Business Women. I was encouraged by Pittman’s positive attitude, her passion for her work, and her encouraging words for future generations of Mississippi’s women leaders. I hope you will be too.
» Martin Willoughby is a business consultant and regular contributing columnist for the Mississippi Business Journal. He serves as Chief Operating Officer of Butler Snow Advisory Services, LLC and can be reached at martin.willoughby@ butlersnow.com.
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