scorecardIvanka Trump Describes What It's Really Like To Be A Woman Who Works
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Ivanka Trump Describes What It's Really Like To Be A Woman Who Works

Ivanka Trump Describes What It's Really Like To Be A Woman Who Works
StrategyStrategy4 min read

Ivanka Trump

Courtesy of Ivanka Trump

Ivanka Trump pictured in Fortune magazine.

Ivanka Trump is not one thing.

The 33-year-old heiress is the daughter of business mogul Donald Trump. She is the executive vice president of development and acquisitions for the Trump organization, and the founder of the Ivanka Trump fashion brand. She is a wife, mother of two, aspiring runner, and improving golfer.

And she's tired of seeing professional women depicted in just one way.

That's why Trump recently launched the initiative #WomenWhoWork, a video campaign coinciding with the launch of her apparel website. It aims to "celebrate the many different ways in which women work - and to redefine, and break stereotypes around, what it looks like to be a working woman today."

We asked her what it's really like to be a powerful woman, how the modern workplace has evolved, and what success means to her.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

BUSINESS INSIDER: What are some of the stereotypes of professional women that you want #WomenWhoWork to debunk?

IVANKA TRUMP: There's a very generic image of working women. It's not multifaceted. People don't talk about a "working man." It's just assumed. When you say "working woman," it has a negative connotation.

BI: Have you ever felt singled out as a woman in the boardroom?

IT: My primary business is real estate. There aren't many women in real estate development, construction, or finance. You see more women in sales and brokerage positions. Early on in my career, I got used to being the only woman in the room.

Ivanka Trump

Courtesy of Ivanka Trump

Trump in Baku, Azerbaijan.

There are still barriers. I try to have a positive outlook. I consider myself incredibly fortunate to be a woman working in America. It looks very different to be a working woman in other places in the world.

BI: Is being a woman ever an advantage?

IT: If we were sitting in a room of bankers, most of them 50-year-old men, likely I was the one they'd follow up with. So it's not always bad to stand out.

BI: How has the workplace evolved for women over time?

IT: We live in an interesting time. Work is changing for men as much as it is for women. Men expect and want to be part of their children's lives. They're living in a different way than their fathers did.

BI: What's different now?

IT: Technology. Twenty years ago life was siloed into work and home. Now it's very different. People send emails at 11 at night. There's been a breakdown of that division between the professional realm and personal realm.

women who work

Courtesy of Ivanka Trump

#WomenWhoWork advocates, from left: Alexa von Tobel, founder of LearnVest; Jodie Snyder, cofounder of DANNIJO; and Angela Benton, founder of NewME Accelerator.

BI: You've said that you don't have work-life balance and you don't try to. Why is that?

IT: People obsess too much about balance. A scale is only in balance for a brief second. Inevitably the pendulum swings. It's impossible to maintain. Rather than obsess over perfect balance, I like to focus on my priorities.

From a scheduling perspective, if I'm planning a work trip, I know not to book something the night before the trip because I want to be with my family. Some weeks are better than others. If I have a deal come up, I might work three weeks straight. Then I have other moments, like if [my daughter] Arabella is sick, which change the dynamic. Life is a marathon, not a sprint. It's about taking a bigger-picture approach.

BI: What's your definition of success?

IT: Happiness. I don't think you are truly successful unless you are a happy person and are happy with your life. I know many people who are professionally successful but miserable. I'm happy when I'm achieving my professional goals and when I'm with my husband and children.

BI: What do you think it takes to achieve success today?

Ivanka Trump and daughter

Courtesy of Ivanka Trump

Trump with her daughter, Arabella.

IT: Identify what you love doing and do it. It's very hard to be great at what you do if you aren't deeply passionate. I know plenty of brilliant people who never went the distance because others were more passionate, worked harder, and had a laser focus.

If you're in a relationship, it has to be the right person. If I had a husband who didn't approve of my decision to have a professional life, that would stymie me in a real way.

It's not just who you marry, but who you surround yourself with. Pessimists are toxic. I love optimists - and by that I don't mean people who are unable to see challenges. Optimists are solution-oriented.