At a time when millions of Americans are wondering about the next step in their career paths, a marketing executive is providing Black women with the tools necessary to not only make a career change, but succeed in it.
Watchen Nyanue is the Founder and CEO of I Choose the Ladder, a career consulting company that aims to bridge the gap between ambitious Black women who want to climb the corporate ladder, and the corporations that understand the importance of attracting and retaining this group.
Nyanue was born in Liberia and immigrated to Chicago. After becoming a standout student at Maine Township High School East, she attended DePauw University and finished with a Bachelor’s degree in Communications.
Nyanue started I Choose The Ladder as a podcast in 2018 after she was called out on her privilege and realized that for many like her, the road to success is much harder.
“I have had a highly influential tribe of people (mentors, sponsors, colleagues, etc.) who have been very generous with sharing their knowledge with me.” Nyanue told BLACK ENTERPRISE. ”In my ignorance, I assumed that everyone had that level of professional support. But, after having conversations with some Black students at DePauw and some of my friends, I realized it was not the norm and wanted to create a way to bring my tribe to the women who looked like me.”
Eventually the podcast grew an audience and Nyanue began receiving notes about other Black women who needed support and advice outside the podcast. Additionally, companies also started to reach out to see how we could support their Black female employees.
“And I Choose the Ladder, the company was born.” Nyanue said.
I Choose the Ladder focuses on supporting career development needs of Black women in the corporate climate while corporations work through their long term diversity and inclusion strategies. One of its most useful tools is its review planner.
The planner will help you prepare, perform and stay ahead to be your best all year long. The planner includes Nyanue’s unwritten rules of corporate America, a monthly checklist to track your progress throughout the year and keep you focused on your goals and a built-in question list to guide you through annual reviews.
I Choose the Ladder recently held its CLIMB Career Summit, a soft skills summit that addresses some of the challenges Black women face as they try to navigate being Black in Corporate America. Nyanue told BLACK ENTERPRISE that Black women have always had the skills to succeed in holding C-suite and board member positions at global companies.
Last year’s Black Lives Matter movement put an increased focus on racial equity, diversity, and inclusion especially when it comes to Black women in the C-suite and corporate space. However, corporate America is still failing Black women. But Nyanue knows it’s not an issue of ability,
“For most Black women, it’s not about having the technical abilities to do their jobs; we are highly educated,” Nyanue said. “It’s all the other things that come with being Black in Corporate America that gets in the way of our progression.”
Which is why Nyanue is working to ensure when Black women get more chances they are ready and prepared to excel.
“My goal with I Choose the Ladder is to make sure that the next generation of Black female leaders have real visibility at what it takes to occupy leadership roles as Black women in corporate America,” Nyanue told BLACK ENTERPRISE. “And what better way to get that education than by connecting with and learning from the Black women who have done it before us.”