By Staff Writer
Businesswoman, author, mother, model — and daughter of one of America’s most famous property developers — Ivanka Trump explains how she juggles her many roles
There’s no mistaking Ivanka Trump. As she walks into the meeting room at the Four Seasons Hotel in Dubai, everyone gets up to shake her hand. Wearing a high-neck, knee-length cream dress with a pair of her self-designed shoes, she takes a seat and places one hand on either arm of the chair.
Confident, striking and totally in control, the glamour girl of the Trump family doesn’t mince her words. “I don’t think any of us are shy,” she smiles.
She can say that again. Just 33 years old, Trump is executive vice president at her father’s Trump Organization, the owner of a jewellery and apparel line, an author, the wife of a successful businessman, a mother of two, and a successful model, having been featured on Maxim’s hot 100 list.
But what really makes a woman worth $150m tick?
“I think we have very high standards and very exacting standards, and we really push ourselves incredibly hard to achieve excellence in whatever it is we’re doing,” she says. “And I think that’s just part of our DNA, that’s all we know.”
If you could spell out Trump’s DNA, it would probably read three words: success, success, and more success. Born in New York City, she attended Manhattan’s ultra-exclusive Chaplin School until the age of 15, before later graduating from Choate Rosemary Hall in Connecticut. After studying at Wharton School of Business, she graduated in 2004 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics.
Following spells with $9bn real estate giant Forest City Enterprises and later with Dynamic Diamond Corp, she eventually did what all the Trumps like doing — joining Daddy’s empire.
Today, Trump works side by side with her older brother Don and her younger brother Eric, as well as her real estate mogul father, Donald Trump. She puts many of her qualities down to her family, with whom she shares a lot of similarities.
“Well, we spend a lot of time together,” Trump says, adding: “Not only do we share the same blood but we also occupy the same space, all the time, so I have the good fortune of working in a family business. I think we all have a lot of similarities.”
Trump says that real estate was in her blood since inception.
“I knew very, very early on, really as young as I could remember, that I wanted to go into real estate,” she says. “I think it was a combination of being almost in the blood as they say.
“And people in real estate do say that, as you see so many family businesses in the real estate space.”
While Trump Senior has been running some of the world’s most famous real estate projects for decades, Ivanka has now joined forces with him to manage their newest venture in Dubai, Trump Mansions.
In collaboration with Damac Properties, the project comprises luxury mansions, villas, apartments, hotels, and an outdoor retail strip. It’s set alongside the Trump International Golf Club, expected to be the region’s largest golf course.
“We bring, obviously, our international standards and expectations, having built over the course — in my father’s case — of many decades, the most super-luxury buildings and individual houses really anywhere in the world,” Trump says.
In fact, the longer you talk to Trump, the more often you hear her favourite two words: “My father”.
“My father used to — starting when I was five years old — send me renderings of towers he was building or looking at or seeking to apply, or development projects,” she says. “And he’d write notes on them for me saying how he couldn’t wait till I joined the business to help him, and, you know, very cute things, so I think he created a lot of excitement and passion.”
“I think I was probably very influenced by the fact that I’d see my father and my mother [Ivana Trump], who is a very smart real estate both investor and builder in her own right, I would see them come home and they were so excited about what they did. They loved it. They were so passionate,” she says.
Yet, it’s not any type of real estate that interests Trump.
“I’m not sure that I would be as excited if we were in the commodity real estate business,” she says. “I mean, everything we do is big and it’s exciting and it’s bold and it pushes the envelope of luxury so it’s just an exciting business to be in.”
Apart from the property world, Trump also runs a jewellery and apparel line, the Ivanka Trump Collection, which sells in several countries worldwide, including online in Dubai.
This is not due to her love for fashion, however. “I think at my core, and I’ve inherited this from my father, I’m an entrepreneurial person, so I always keep my eyes open to opportunity and that takes me to interesting places,” she says.
“I had no intention in being in the fashion world, outside of an appreciation for fashion growing up, largely influenced by my mother,” she declares. “But there was an opportunity to create a brand for a self-purchasing female, this sort of next generation of young working women and to create products that really suited her lifestyle. So I seized that opportunity and created and defined my personal brand around it.”
With so many balls to juggle, what is a typical day in the life of Ivanka Trump? “Total chaos. Total, just total, chaos,” she says, adding: “I mean, the amazing thing is once you have children, there really isn’t a typical day any more. You have to learn to sort of roll with the punches and acclimatise as things get thrown your way.”
One thing that doesn’t help her deal with the chaos, which may surprise many, is balance. Trump doesn’t believe in balance.
“Balance, as people talk about it, it’s elusive. You can never stay in perfect balance, it’s a scale right? It’s going to swing in one direction,” Trump explains.
“So rather, I try to think about priorities and make sure that I’m where I need to be, when I need to be there. And sometimes that means I have to be in the office late, because I need to get something done and it’s important to my professional goals. And other times that means I have to be home because one of my children needs me or my husband does.”
But what does it really take to be a successful businesswoman?
“I think first of all, and this sort of applies to everyone, the thing that my father always said to me is that you have to really, as early on as you can, identify what it is you’re really passionate about. And you have to try different things until you really know for sure that that’s what you love doing. Because the only way to be great is to deeply want to work, to love to work, to be passionate about your work,” she says.
One thing nobody can ever accuse Ivanka Trump of, in whatever she does, is a lack of passion.