Innovation Alley Launches Professional Leadership Pilot Program

Igniting Insights gives professionals tools to drive innovation

By Jill Nuelle, Communications Intern in the Office of Marketing and Communications

Innovation Alley, a partnership between the College of Business Administration and Opus College of Engineering, aims to develop leaders who use their talents in service to 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 emerging talent unlock the mindset and skills needed to lead innovation in their organizations.


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

“Everyone wants innovation, but people don’t really understand what it is and how to get there. Many people associate innovation with technology. And fundamentally, it’s about people,” she says.

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

Trevey also notes that Igniting Insights distinguishes between leadership and management by helping participants identify which behaviors are enablers of innovation and which are barriers. They then develop skills to break through those barriers, build on the catalysts, and create new things.

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


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

Igniting Insights is about elevating a network of people interested in similar things and creating spaces for them to engage with each other and drive change.

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

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

“One of our goals is to not over-define and structure Innovation Alley so that there’s no more innovation,” Ropella says. “Innovation should always be a bit messy, and we want to that the initiative creates opportunities for us to experiment, fail, and learn more about innovation leadership and how to create cultures where innovation happens.”

The future of Innovation Alley is reflected in the design of the new home of the Marquette Business and Innovation Leadership programs.

Tim Hanley, acting dean of business administration at Keyes, notes that Innovation Alley is looking for opportunities for the university to engage with industry in an unprecedented way. As such, the future of Innovation Alley is reflected in the design of the new home of the Marquette Business and Innovation Leadership programs.

Ready to be a gathering point for students and faculty from all colleges, as well as the business community, the building was designed to be open, transparent and foster collaboration, adds John Knapp, director of external relations at the College of Business Administration.

Collaboration, Hanley points out, encourages innovation.

“When we 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 students from different disciplines to collide.

Simply put, the new building will allow Innovation Alley to grow through more programs like Igniting Insights, which will continue to foster a collaborative community of innovators to grow the Jesuit idea that everyone has leadership potential.

Kevin E. Boling