Emme: Please tell me about your childhood and where you grew up.
Dia: I grew up in Queens, New York. I was born in Monterey, California but my dad was in the military so I lived in Germany for a while before we moved to New York. My dad taught me chess at a very young age– around four or five. My mom taught me Scrabble. It’s a very simple thing, but it definitely contributed to who I am today and my mind set. [My parents] were also very good about advocating other things that resonated with me that I hope I can pass on to my 11-month daughter. One thing was that anything is possible. If I ever didn’t know something, my mother always said, “What does not knowing have to do with finding out?”
Emme: What college did you attend? What was your major?
I attended Morgan State University in Baltimore. I majored in psychology. I have my Master’s Degree in management with a concentration in contract management from the Florida Institute of Technology.
Obviously now, you work for Sean Combs, which is huge! How did you work up the ladder and get to work for him?
I didn’t have a traditional trajectory. I worked for the Department of Defense, deciphering million dollar defense contracts. I also worked in advertising sales and the pharmaceutical industry. So, I definitely jumped around. When I was in New York City doing advertising sales for Clear Channel, Sean John clothing and Bad Boy Records were my clients. One of Sean’s marketing executives asked me if I would be interested in interviewing with them for a Chief of Staff position at the company. I had never been in that type of role before but agreed to take the interview! I interviewed with him and it was a five minute interview. I had no idea how it went but Sean called me and asked me to come on to be an assistant. I’ve been promoted five times since I’ve been there. We have a great work relationship and I’ve learned a lot from him.
I would be so star struck!
One of the first things we talked about was about how hard work is what a lot of things come down to. You have a lot of people with extraordinary intelligence, but real superstardom, to me, is the combination of real talent and hard work. If you look at the Michael Jordan’s of the world, they have that ethic.
What’s your typical day?
We are the marketing life blood of all of Sean Combs’ companies. I work with all of our brands, CÎROC Vodka, his own personal brand activities, Sean John clothing and fragrances, and our exciting new television network, REVOLT. An average day could be producing a television commercial on set, coming up with our new social media campaign; it could be making sure the hottest restaurants have our vodka, and making sure each of our brands have their own brand ethos. It’s ever changing and it’s exciting.
What do you think is the best part about your job?
Hands down, when we come up with any idea, it’s an unwritten song. At first, no one had ever heard of CÎROC Vodka and then my Auntie in Kentucky asks me what’s going on with this CÎROC Vodka and we’ve taken a brand with zero impressions to a billion. It’s taking something from concept to execution.
How do you juggle a family and a high powered job?
I genuinely don’t have the formula. I joke that we’re the evolutionary test and maybe in 100 years we’ll get it right. We’re the women that are the CEOs, have three babies, and are in the PTA. You do a good job at something, something suffers for a few days, and then you switch, and you switch back. I’m a work-a-holic but work does not come remotely close to my time with my family and friends.
What advice would you give young women who want to be an entrepreneur like you?
Two things I learned from chess are owning your strategy and not being afraid to take risks. Bet on yourself, I urge young women to be their own advocates. Make a decision, and work to make it the right decision.
What is something about Sean Combs that nobody knows?
He has a lot of women executives. He’s known for bringing out the best in people. He’s the best at honing in on your strengths, even if you don’t know your strengths.
What are your plans for the future?
I think in the long term I take inspiration from Sean. I would like to take an entrepreneurial track but also focus on giving back.. I would really love to help young women in the work place and help them cultivate their path. You can be 100% woman and be still be tough and be strong. You can be a woman, and still be no nonsense and get it done.