Rachel Serwetz

Rachel Serwetz is the CEO, Founder, Career Exploration Coach.

Her early professional experience was at Goldman Sachs in Operations and at Bridgewater Associates in HR. From there, she was trained as a coach at NYU and became a certified coach through the International Coach Federation. After this, she worked in HR Research at Aon Hewitt and attained her Technology MBA at NYU Stern. Throughout her career, she has helped hundreds of professionals with career exploration and for the past 6 years she has been building her company, WOKEN, which is an online career exploration platform to coach professionals through the process of clarifying their ideal job and career path. She is also an Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship at Binghamton University and has served as a Career Coach through the Flatiron School/WeWork, Columbia University, and Project Activate. Learn more about WOKEN here: iamwoken.com.

What were your initial years of growing up like? Tell us about your life before starting your corporate journey/venture/initiative.

I had a great childhood growing up and I worked really hard in school — I didn’t know exactly where that would all lead, I just knew it was important to work hard and then I’d figure the rest out later. In college I didn’t really know what I wanted to study. Luckily I chose a broad major and leaned into more extracurricular activities like leading a large philanthropy event, doing a consulting internship, and other hands-on projects that allowed me to understand my knack and interest in business. Eventually, I started out working in financial services. Alongside those early jobs, I was referred to hundreds of folks to help them with their careers and realized I had value in doing this and also enjoyed doing it. That’s when I chose to lean in to get coaching training, which was the very beginning of WOKEN.

Every industry that is now a large-scale, top-notch business once started as a small idea in the minds of entrepreneurs. What was that idea or motivation that made you start your business /initiative? What motivated you within to say YES, go for it!”

I was working in a corporate setting and it just didn’t feel right. Truthfully, deep down, I knew I wanted to start my own thing. I just was scared, nervous, and well, you’ll never really feel ready. After trying to force a situation that wasn’t right, well that doesn’t work out too well. So I left the gig, and coincidentally, just after this, I was accepted into NYU Stern’s Tech MBA program. This helped me feel comfortable to go start the business as I felt that the worst case scenario if the business doesn’t work out, at least I have the graduate degree. I wouldn’t recommend that any new budding entrepreneur needs an MBA per se, but for me, it gave me the sense of confidence to go take that risk and explore the idea.

Would you like to share with our young budding women entrepreneurs the change you would like to see in the world if given an opportunity?

[Just not to you guys – not exactly sure what you’re asking here but I’ll do my best to interpret] — I would love to see that every professional in this world has accessible, affordable, effective career coaching support, at all stages of their life and career journeys. Starting from the moment you have to make any educational or professional decisions, you should have support to do so effectively. From then on, everytime you pursue your next steps along your career path, and make critically impactful decisions that affect your life, we’d like to ensure you have guidance, resources, encouragement, and support in all of those decisions and moments.

Women are a growing force in the workplaces worldwide, standing shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts. There are cracks in glass ceilings everywhere, with many women breaking through to carve out a space right at the top of the pyramid. What are your thoughts about women leadership today?

We are seeing more women leaders, and more powerful women leaders. Of course there is always more work to be done, but I love to see that the female community does band together to identify any gaps that we face, call it out publicly, and work towards a variety of efforts to push towards equality.

What’s the most important thing you have learned in your personal life and professional journey? What is your personal motto in life?

We can all only do our best. To me, that means understanding your feelings, and taking some action forward on them. Whether you’re seeking mentorship, coaching, or chatting with a peer, to voice your feelings is one step closer to moving you towards your goals. I don’t like to stand still, and I believe in the power of getting support to help you move forward.

With your grit and determination, you are making a considerable impact, breaking through, and serving as role models for many budding entrepreneurs. What would you want to say to our young women leaders/audience reading this?

Be very thoughtful whether you want to start a business — chat with other entrepreneurs about how it really looks and feels (though there’s a variety of ways you could start a business), but learn deeply first to see whether it’s the right path for you. If you do want to start something, be very thoughtful about what type of product or service you care about deeply enough to allow you the wherewithal to persist through all the natural ups and downs of building a business. Starting a venture takes time, persistence, creativity, resilience, and patience, so be sure you choose a sector or a problem that you care about deeply.