15 Minutes With Ivanka Trump
Sure, Ivanka Trump comes from a famous family, but she's paved a career path and found a level of success that's arguably all her own.
After graduating with honors from the Wharton School of Finance, she launched a career in real estate and design, eventually co-founding the Trump Hotel Collection with her brothers, as well as Ivanka Trump Fine Jewelry, a line that now includes apparel, footwear, handbags, and fragrance. Today, she oversees the real estate and hotel management holdings for her family business, the Trump Organization. Oh, and she also found time to pen the bestselling book The Trump Card: Playing To Win in Life and Work, a guide to interviewing, negotiating, and making an impact in the office.
In our new interview series, we spent 15 minutes with Ivanka getting the scoop about her career, what it's like working with family, and the biggest career lesson she's learned along the way.
First, can you tell us about your career path in a nutshell?
I was naturally drawn to the fashion industry, partially because I love to exercise my creative instincts and in part due to my childhood cohabitation with a very fashionable mom, but even as a young girl I knew I wanted to be in real estate. Fortunately, I now get to do both.
After graduating from Wharton at the University of Pennsylvania, I spent a year at the real estate firm Forest City Enterprises before joining the Trump Organization to work with my father and brothers in 2005. I immediately became immersed in every aspect of the business, from development and acquisitions to operations, sales, and brand building. I found the design process associated with ground-up construction and renovation projects to be exhilarating, and when I was approached to design my own fine jewelry collection, it seemed like a natural fit.
My aesthetic is very specific and consistent across all the businesses that I've entered, from real estate to product design for my various apparel and accessories collections. Eventually the collection grew and has now become a 360-degree lifestyle brand that allows me to apply my creative instincts and has had a positive, syneristic effect on my role as Executive Vice President of Development and Acquisitions at the Trump Organization.
You've made a lot of exciting moves in your career. What was the scariest?
Probably joining our family business. Working with family can produce binary results; it is either a disaster or a success. Seldom in between. That said, I knew it was worth the risk and I am very happy to now be working for my father and alongside my extremely talented brothers.
What is doing The Apprentice and Celebrity Apprentice like? Have the contestants ever surprised you?
The contestants surprise me every season. I love observing their personalities, determination, and skills. It is so fun to watch them compete, and I feel very fortunate to have spent time with each of them over the years. It is always an eccentric, yet very talented, group which is endlessly entertaining.
You're now a mother—and soon to be a mother of two! Congratulations! How has having a growing family changed your work-life balance?
For me, it’s all about being efficient! My family is my priority, but my career is so fulfilling and in many ways it makes me a better mother and wife.
If you could go back, would you do anything differently in your career? Is there anything you wish you’d known?
Not a thing. Each experience and lesson learned has led me to where I am now.
If you could go back, what one piece of advice would you give your younger self?
Early on in my career, I was determined to be independent and create my own success, and I thought this meant learning everything on my own. The reality is, you can’t always be an expert at everything, so surround yourself with brilliant, creative people and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Humility is key to success, especially in your early years.
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