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An interview with Ivanka Trump

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An interview with Ivanka Trump photo

The name 'Trump' has been a household name for decades. But lately Donald is sharing the spotlight with the younger generation of Trumps—his sons and his daughter, Ivanka.

Ivanka, who has a business degree from Wharton, is charged with the domestic and global expansion of her dad's company's real estate interests and she's the founder of Ivanka Trump Fine Jewelry and Ivanka Trump Footwear. She has launched #WomenWhoWork, which celebrates the multidimensional lives of modern women. After meeting her husband, who is Jewish, Ivanka converted to Judaism, and the couple has a young daughter and son.

Ivanka, who will speak at JUF’s Women’s Division’s Spring Event on May 12, recently conducted an email interview with Oy!Chicago, where she talked about her entrepreneurial pursuits, the balancing act of the modern woman, and who she admires most.

Oy!Chicago: You do so much professionally—in the Trump Organization, in real estate and hotel management, in jewelry, in your lifestyle collection. What are you most passionate about in the professional world?
Ivanka Trump: Real estate has always been my passion. I grew up touring construction sites, visiting our properties and hotels with my father and could not get enough… I ingested everything I could get my hands on, observed my peers and supervisors, and experienced as much as possible. I always felt l had something to prove and, in some ways, I guess I did. Eventually I started making my own deals and managing my own team and projects. 

I'm an entrepreneur at heart, and I saw a great opportunity to dress young, professional women in a stylish yet attainable way and decided to enter the marketplace with accessories... Our brand is targeted to millennials in the early stages of their careers. [Our customer] is a woman who leads with smarts, but is able to transition quickly between her various roles in professional and personal capacities. 

What are the challenges that come with having such a famous father, when you're trying to make your own way in the world?
I'm incredibly grateful for my family and both of my parents. I think time has debunked some of the criticisms that people might throw at me. There will always be those who will say I wouldn't be in this position if not for my father and they very well may be right, but I also know I work very hard and have a lot to be proud of. One thing that I know for sure is that I could have chosen to do far less!

My brothers and I are so incredibly fortunate to work alongside our father and it has been an amazing experience, especially in these early stages of our careers. Family businesses tend to be very binary; they are either a total disaster or incredibly successful. Thankfully we represent the latter and that is due, in part, to how well we work as a collective and separately, but regardless we are always working towards a common goal. 

Who are your biggest role models?
My mother has always been a great source of inspiration for me. She is incredibly smart, passionate and wickedly funny. I'm also inspired by the young women today who are working to build lives that they want to live. My father has also had an enormous impact on me. I certainly learned a lot about deal making, building, developing—generally he's taught me what it means to be a great leader and a great parent. Both of my parents were the biggest influence on me and I'm so fortunate to work alongside my father and continue to learn from him every day. 

Studies continue to show that women still earn less money than their male counterparts doing the same work. How can we encourage women to keep "leaning in" and be confident and brave at work?
It's a proven fact that having women in the boardroom is an asset and I think companies are beginning to recognize the value of this more and more. It's amazing to see women holding the high level positions once reserved for men. 

Do you think a lot of these challenges will be gone by the time your daughter enters the workforce?
I tend to think stereotypes and assumptions are growing increasingly irrelevant—in fact, shedding light on what it actually looks like to be a professional woman was one of our goals in originally launching the #WomenWhoWork initiative on my website IvankaTrump.com.

How do you define modern women today?
Women today are working hard at all aspects of their lives…[They] embody the realities of life and works at everything [they] do: being a mother, nurturing her career, her marriage, or relationships. They are smart, ambitious and passionate about their careers—but not defined by them. These women, myself included, are multidimensional. We are doing work we love, work that inspires us, and we're also pursuing our personal passions and making them priorities. There really aren't many accurate depictions of working women today in advertisements and pop culture. Companies are still featuring these one-dimensional caricatures of women, usually outfitted in boring pant suits, striding up 5th Avenue. It's comical. I wanted to illustrate what women who work really look like and create a platform from which to tell their stories.

As a successful young woman in business and as a mother of two, what is your advice to other young women trying to pursue their dreams in life—both personal and professional?
Seek out opportunities you are truly passionate about, work extremely hard, and never stop evolving and improving. 

For more information on the Spring Event 2015, contact the Women's Division Office at (312) 357-4821 or WomensDiv@juf.org.

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