Ivanka Trump on Women in the Workplace, Motherhood, and More
The do-it-all mum is someone who never ceases to inspire us. She is strong. She is efficient. She is fearless. So naturally, when we find ourselves in a room with one, we jump at the opportunity to pick her brain. Ivanka Trump is one such woman, and on a chilly February day in New York, the successful businesswoman and entrepreneur invited MyDomaine inside her gorgeous offices—lucky us!
While Trump certainly has her hands full as executive vice president of development and acquisition at the Trump Organisation and founder and CEO of the Ivanka Trump fashion brand, it’s clear family doesn’t play second fiddle to her career. With two young kids (and one on the way), Trump is proof that you can have it all and more. We sat down with the beauty, and Who What Wear contributor, to talk about work/life balance, creating a functional and chic work space, and how motherhood has made her a better lead. Keep reading for our exclusive interview.
MYDOMAINE: Your offices are beautiful! Can you start by telling us what you were hoping to achieve with the overall look and feel of the space?
IVANKA TRUMP: I think it’s very consistent with our brand aesthetic, which is feminine, not overly girly, but polished, warm, and functional. I think it’s been very fun to watch it evolve and develop. We’ve moved around quite a bit, and we’re about to grow into the next iteration of our brand space. We’re taking the components of this environment that really worked well for the team visually, and also in terms of how we work collectively, and we’re expanding upon that in the new space.
MD: Where do you find most of your furniture and decorative accents?
IT: Our art director and creative director actually created the space. So from a floor plan perspective, that’s an area I’m very comfortable in; and from a design perspective, it was a bit of a team effort. Obviously, functionality is important when people are sitting all day, but we wanted to make sure we had fun brand moments throughout the space. We’re very focused on our collective mission as a brand to inspire and empower women, so we thought about how we can bring that into our environment. We have a kids’ area for our visiting children, and then I have another office in the same building that’s got a very different feel to it. It’s where I do my work as executive vice president of the Trump Organisation. It’s funny, my kids are always bouncing back and forth between both offices, but Arabella prefers the pink one.
MD: What’s your most beloved item in this office?
IT: That’s a good question, I don’t know if I have a beloved item. I think it’s just that there is a warmth down here. I like working in such close proximity to the rest of the team. I work side by side with our creative team, our social team, and the design team as well. I think one of the fun things for me is working with our different designers on patterns and colors, and having that on corkboards all over the office for the season that’s upcoming. So like really living with the inspiration and having it always around our copywriters—I think that is very cool and fun.
MD: Can you walk us through your morning routine?
IT: I get up really early, typically between 5:05 a.m. to 5:30 a.m., somewhere in that range. I try to get everything done before the kids wake up, so I will either exercise or meditate. I can’t often do both, but I squeeze it in. Then I get showered, dressed, and read the papers, so I’m all set once I wake up the kids at 7 a.m. Then we have breakfast as a family together. I take them to school a couple of days of the week, and then the other days I come straight into work. By the time I get into the office, my inbox is in a pretty good condition. I try to go to sleep with as much cleared out as I possibly can. I’ve exercised, I’ve meditated, I’ve showered, I’ve had great family time with my kids and my husband, so for me, the benefit of less sleep is simply just being able to have a real chunk of time [with family] and still be in the office quite early.
MD: Do you write goal lists or create vision boards to help you stay on task?
IT: I do. I love sort of an analog form of note taking. For me, it works better. I’m more inclined to remember it, and I like carrying a notebook with me. Plus, I feel like I’m on my phone and computer so much that I don’t want another reason to be referencing it. So I have a notebook, a Moleskine, [where] I jot down miscellaneous things I want to accomplish, so that they’re not just floating around in my mind and distracting me from what it is that I need to get done that’s more of a priority. I also like to be reflective, either the night before or the morning of, prior to coming into work, about the top three to five things I want to accomplish during that day. And I found that that’s really helpful. It’s not like the check-the-box type of stuff, but what are the bigger goals that I need to really significantly move the needle on, or what are the projects I want to have completed. I find that it’s good for my focus. So I think just sort of making sure that I’m articulating clearly what are the highest priority items for me to execute on has been really helpful. And then, you know, a couple of times a year, I’ll sit down and create a longer list of objectives for each of the different businesses that I oversee, and what are sort of the high-level priorities that I have for them.
MD: Amazing! What’s the #1 piece of career advice you’d give to women in their 30s?
IT: You know, I think the 20s are a time of experimentation, and so are your early 30s. I think that it’s incredibly important to find what it is that you’re passionate about doing, because I’ve never encountered anyone who’s wildly successful as an entrepreneur or within the top ranks of a major business who doesn’t legitimately love what they are doing. Doesn’t mean that they are the smartest person, doesn’t mean they have the best education and the best pedigree, but that’s a common trait. So I think almost the most important piece of advice is the simplest: If you are content, that’s probably not good enough. I think you really have to love it in order to put in the time, in order to care about the details. And so I think it is so important that you experiment, you try different industries, you try different fields. Don’t stay at a job [where] you can’t see yourself in the long term just because.
MD: How has motherhood impacted your professional life?
IT: You know, it’s funny, I think it has made me a better leader. It’s made me more empathetic. It’s made me much more efficient. I think about what I’m doing professionally today and it far exceeds what I was doing professionally prior to having children, and yet I have much less time to accomplish it, because I am very involved in my children’s lives and that’s my top priority. There’s an old saying that ‘If you want to get something done, give it to a busy person.’ And motherhood has really taught me just how true that is. So you know I think it’s been great, in a strange way, for me professionally, and I think I prioritise the right things. And I think kids teach you how to be a better leader and how to be a better manager, because you can’t force them to do things against their will, you have to get them on board with the program.
MD: Lastly, fill in the blank: Women in the workplace should…
IT: Hmm, women in the workplace should kick ass (laughs)! I could have a few, but I don’t want them to be trite, so yeah, I think that works.
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