Innovation Alley launches pilot professional leadership program

Igniting Insights equips professionals with tools to spark innovation

By Jill Nuelle, communication intern in the Office of Marketing and Communication

Innovation Alley, a partnership between the College of Business Administration and the Opus College of Engineering, aims to develop leaders who use their talents in service of others, challenge conventional thinking, transform interactions that engage faculty, students and industry, and create more opportunities to change the face of innovation.

Igniting Insights, the newest program powered by Innovation Alley, is a seven-week virtual professional development experience designed to help rising talent unlock the mindset and skillset to lead innovation in their organizations.


Kate Trevey, director of engineering and innovation leadership development in the Opus College of Engineering, helped design the curriculum for Igniting Insights, which launched Feb. 3 as a pilot program. She explains the disconnect between innovation as concept and reality.

“Everybody wants innovation, but people don’t really understand what it is and how you get there. A lot of people associate innovation with technology. And fundamentally, it’s about people,” she says.

Innovation leaders understand how to foster an environment that unlocks the creativity and potential of people to create value by doing something new that solves a problem—which is what Igniting Insights’ curriculum seeks to accomplish.

Trevey also notes that Igniting Insights distinguishes between leadership and management by helping participants identify behaviors that are catalysts for innovation and those that are barriers. They then develop skills to push through those barriers, lean into the catalysts and create new things.

An important premise of the program is that community and content are equally important. The connections participants will form in their cohorts have the potential to be as beneficial as the curriculum, Trevey says.


Dr. Kristina Ropella, Opus Dean of the Opus College of Engineering, outlines what questions she hopes the Igniting Insights pilot will answer: The program will determine 1) what content participants are eager to learn about within the realm of innovation leadership, 2) which method of education delivery is most effective, 3) how professionals can be aided to shape their own corporate cultures, and 4) how Marquette’s approach is unique from other programs.

Igniting Insights is poised to elevate a network of people who are interested in similar things and create spaces for them to engage one another and promote change.

In this way, Igniting Insights perfectly captures the mission and ethos of Innovation Alley.

Although the original concept for Innovation Alley was a physical facility with a corridor that connected the engineering and business schools and provided space for industry to co-locate, Ropella explains, Innovation Alley is now focused more on the programs that will help develop innovation leaders on campus and within industry.

“One of our goals is to not overly define and structure Innovation Alley such that there is no longer innovation happening, Ropella says. “Innovation should always be a little messy, and we want the initiative to create opportunities for us to experiment with, fail and learn more about innovation leadership and how to create cultures where innovation happens.”

Innovation Alley’s future is reflected in the design for the new home for Marquette Business and Innovation Leadership Programs.

Tim Hanley, acting Keyes Dean of Business Administration, notes that Innovation Alley looks for opportunities for the university to engage with industry in ways unlike ever before. As such, Innovation Alley’s future is reflected in the design for the new home for Marquette Business and Innovation Leadership Programs.

Poised to be a convening point for students and faculty across all colleges, as well as the business community, the building has been designed to be open, transparent and foster collaboration, adds John Knapp, director of external relations for the College of Business Administration.

Collaboration, Hanley emphasizes, encourages innovation.

“As we’ve thought about designing the new building, we always had innovation in mind,” he says, adding that he hopes it will serve as a space for collisions of students from different disciplines.

Put simply, the new building will allow for Innovation Alley to grow through more programs like Igniting Insights, which will continue to foster a collaborative community of innovators to expand upon the Jesuit idea that all people have leadership potential.