Meeting with Ivanka Trump, dinner with Christine Lagarde and the centerpriece of the Washington Program

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Connecting the dots

Yesterday, the last day of immersion into the Fortune / U.S. State Department Global Women’s Mentoring Partnership program can be easily called the centerpiece of the first part of our trip to USA. As planned, during this weekend each and every of us, 21 women-entrepreneurs will split up to go to our respective mentors. My mentor company is a retail giant “Walmart” which means that on this very Sunday I will embark on a journey to Bentonville, Arkansas. Americans have already taught me to how to pronounce the name of the state correctly (the “s” in the end is silent, no analogy with Kansas) so that in Bentonville I could easily blend in. We knew beforehand that we would have numerous of meetings at the White House – one of the vis-à-vis was revealed to us in the very beginning. Dina Habib Powell, native of Egypt, – is the first Muslim woman in president Trump’s government. She occupies the position of a Senior Counselor to the President for Economic Initiatives. Smart, precise and endlessly elegant, she charms you from the very moment you meet her. Powell helped Condoleezza Rice, U.S. Secretary of State, to manage the relationships with the Arab world. Moreover, she was in charge of the HR department in G.W.Bush administration. Being CEO of the Goldman Sachs charity fund, she put a lot of efforts into protection
of the rights of women, often actively cooperating with Vital Voices. She only returned to politics upon request of Ivanka Trump.

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Not far away from the White House the name of our host was revealed – it was Ivanka Trump, America’s First Daughter. That’s how she is usually called in here, as she has played a big role in her father’s election campaign and still keeps fighting for the rights of women and children. Our conversation was asked to remain off the record, therefore I cannot really share any details about it. Nevertheless, I can tell you about the general format of our talk: every participant of the program had to introduce oneself to the President’s daughter and briefly tell her about one’s work. In the end of the conversation, that was actually led by Dina Habib, Ivanka made a joint photo with us that she later posted to her Instagram page. Afterwards, Ivanka left for a meeting with her father while we had the
pleasure to witness a panel discussion between Kellyanne Conway, Kathleen McFarland and Lindsay
Reynolds.

Kellyanne Conway was responsible for the work with women voters for Donald Trump, and later on replaced Paul Manafort on the position of campaign manager for the future president. Conway is considered to be the first woman to run a successful presidential campaign. As for Kathleen McFarland, in 1970s she used to be Henry Kissinger’s assistant during his tenure as a member of the United States National Security Council and now she’s an acting Deputy National Security Advisor to President Donald Trump. The fourth participant of the discussion – was Lindsay Reynolds, Chief of Staff of Melania Trump, the First Lady of the United States.

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The conversation was held in the following format: Dina Habib Powell would ask questions to each of the women and they would reply. All of the three interviewees turned out to be not only successful careerwise, but also prosperous in their family matters. Most of all, I was impressed by Kathleen McFarland: aged 66, she occupies a key position in the President’s office, raises five grandchildren and treats everything with a great deal of irony. And though this meeting joined the all-growing list of off-the- record ones, I’ve compiled a list of the major lessons I’ve learned from President Trump’s
counselors:

—       Always listen to your inner voice, it never lies
—       Only you know what’s best for you
—       You can have anything you want, but not everything at once
—       Be supportive of other women
—       Never say ‘no’ to new opportunities

In the evening we were to attend a dinner in our honor arranged by Fortune magazine and State Department. The pompous Benjamin Franklin Room gathered the most successful women- entrepreneurs of America, the leaders of the Fortune 500 companies. On top of that, the dinner was attended by Christine Lagarde, the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund. With no prior notice, each and every of us was asked to stand up and briefly introduce oneself. Introduce oneself – in front of 300 most successful women of USA and the world, as, for these people, each of us was seen as a representative of our respective countries and had to describe the current
economic and political situation in them. Frankly speaking, I’ve already gotten used to the role of the “ambassador of fashion in Ukraine”, but throughout this week I had to experience the role of a “diplomat”. Thus, our further conversation with madam Lagarde mainly revolved around the level of corruption in Ukraine that, she hopes, we’ll be able to decrease in the following two or three years.img_7080-2-750x1000

Days like this are the days to remember. Meeting with Ivanka Trump, dinner with Christine Lagarde – so far, the program is exceeding all of my expectations. And I haven’t even reached Walmart yet! Friday is our last workday in Washington, then some rest – and the start of our mentorship program.