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The I Choose the Ladder story began at the intersection of DePauw University and privilege. On a return trip to DePauw University for Alumni of Color reunion weekend, I Choose the Ladder Founder & CEO Watchen Nyanue was driving with some Black female friends who were sharing some challenges they were having at work. They felt their managers were underutilizing them. They felt isolated because their colleagues did not know how to engage with them, so they left them out. They felt stuck because the people tasked with helping them develop professionally didn't understand what it felt like to "be a Black woman navigating corporate America," so they provided career advice that was not practical.
When the group arrived at DePauw, The Office of Alumni Relations had arranged a tour of the new Center for Diversity and Inclusion. Part of the tour included a conversation with current students of color. During the discussion, students expressed frustration with alumni of color, specifically the Black ones, because once "Black folks graduated, they never came back to campus." So students didn't feel like they had guides who could understand their experiences and were left to navigate small-town Greencastle, Indiana, and future careers on their own."
While the Vice President of Marketing Partnerships at the WNBA, Chicago Sky, in 2018, Watchen founded the I Choose the Ladder Podcast to respond to that need. With the podcast's success came the demand for more from podcast listeners. Black women listeners across the country sent messages requesting more support: classes, workshops, and coaching (for themselves and their managers).
At this point, Watchen leveraged her wealth of experience in business and corporate America to launch I Choose the Ladder, offering employee management consulting services to Fortune 500 corporate partners. At the core foundation of our business is people and talent development, which continues to guide the comprehensive strategy solutions we provide. We inform clients with relevant data, trends, and customized strategic solutions for their leaders and pipeline of future diverse leaders through this lens.
MEET OUR CEO
Watchen Nyanue is an expert talent management strategist, speaker, and facilitator who helps Fortune 500 companies keep their employees from quitting.
As the Founder and CEO of I Choose the Ladder, Watchen has been a guide for companies such as Nike, McDonald’s, and Best Buy as they redefine what it means to cultivate a global, inclusive, and innovative workforce. With over fifteen years of corporate experience, Watchen’s work sits at the intersection of talent, culture, and strategy.
Prior to founding, I Choose the Ladder, Watchen was the Senior Vice President of Marketing Partnerships for the 2021 WNBA Champions, the Chicago Sky. During the past 15 years of working in Corporate America, Watchen has worked for many renowned companies, including Comedy Central, Hearst Digital, Yahoo!, and Johnson Publishing Company. Watchen has a proven track record of creating work environments where individual contributors and leaders alike are inspired to take action to shape the future of corporate America for all employees.