Reinventing Professional Development for Women

Anne Cocquyt
Jul 25, 2017 · 4 min read

Minutes after we announced SERENDIPITY, our two-day un-conference, the GUILD’s email server blew up as inquiries and fan mail poured in. This immediate, spirited response was a pleasant surprise. We’re a small (and mighty) Bay Area startup, and since our launch in February have been focusing on growing our membership, optimizing our matches, and hosting local events. SERENDIPITY is our next big move, but we didn’t anticipate we’d strike such a nerve.

What is catching people’s attention about SERENDIPITY?

“YAY!!!! So excited, guys!”

“I like the fresh take on a tired conference paradigm.”

“Awesome idea! Are there still openings for hosting sessions? I would make the trek from Dallas to be a part of it!”

“This sounds like a great event! I love the idea of valuable networking coming from a foot massage.”

Yes, we are creating a model that will inspire countless more women to take an active role in growing their professional profiles and building their networks. We knew that the concept of the dreaded, passive “Ballroom A, B, C” conference needed to be deconstructed to make way for intimate, productive spaces. So why has nobody done this before? Perhaps because experienced event managers can’t imagine organizing 500 women over two days in ten spaces, with 40 sessions and 20 dinners throughout San Francisco. Oh, blissful naiveté!

We kicked into gear, and within two weeks, we’d confirmed over 20 inspired speakers from all over the country to host their own sessions. The collective energy and passion helped us to accomplish in weeks what others told us would take months. Our core team includes volunteers and energetic summer interns, united in an intuitive understanding of the unique force that will be SERENDIPITY.

SERENDIPITY is about upending paradigms, shifting cultures and building new business frameworks for women. We’ll take you that extra mile and prove that the impossible is possible, that “same old” can be “way new,” and that walls (and ceilings!) can be moved by sheer imagination.

Here’s the treat you’re in for:


SERENDIPITY crosses industry boundaries and busts out of the typical conference silo. You’ll find ten different houses, each with its own theme, where you’ll broaden your horizons. If you’re into tech, try a storytelling workshop in the StoryPOWER house. Artist or designer? Head to the FOUNDERS MEET FUNDERS house to learn how to build a pitch deck. Every session is an opportunity to find the serendipity of a meaningful connection or the “aha” moment you can share at our happy hour.


Most conferences fail at enabling connections. A good bond comes from a shared experience — it’s a springboard for authentic conversation. Just sitting next to someone during a presentation doesn’t really cut it, but getting to know her through active sessions like a calligraphy workshop, or a roundtable discussion on crowdfunding, is invaluable.

We’re simplifying this process at SERENDIPITY by pre-matching you with two women for 1:1 meetups throughout the two days, so you can chat comfortably over coffee or lunch. Plus, we’ve structured each of the four sessions to be inclusive of every voice in the room, ensuring that you’ll leave feeling connected to your fellow attendees. That’s a minimum of SIX legitimate, personal connections that you can tap into far beyond a profile picture on LinkedIn.


For inspiration to linger, you have to feel motivated and energized beyond the closing happy hour, ready to invoke real change and new ideas into the threads of everyday life. Have you ever left a conference overflowing with ideas, only to find that by the following Monday you’d almost forgotten you had even attended? It happens to everyone. Follow through on that inspiration by holding yourself and your fellow-attendees accountable to the goals you set.

In my experience, every memorable interaction and lasting impression starts with meeting the right people, not from the 1000-person gala dinner or lengthy stage presentations. I truly believe that every single woman sitting at our family-style dinner tables on Thursday night will bring as much to SERENDIPITY as our most dynamic keynote speakers.

Bring your best self. Bring your strength. Bring your voice, your ideas, your whole heart.

Get behind our movement and feel the momentum. SERENDIPITY is coming. Get your early-bird ticket NOW!

On the table

Your personal recipe for professional networking

Anne Cocquyt

Written by

On the table

Your personal recipe for professional networking

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