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The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

‘Innovators on Tap’ brings stories of innovation, leadership to MU

Marquette College of Engineering alumnus Chuck Swoboda is the creator behind “Innovators on Tap.” Photo courtesy of Kyle Hagge.

Behind every great idea, there is a person, and behind every great person, there is a story. Two Marquette alumni are on a journey to tell the stories behind great people and ideas in a new and unique way — via podcast.

“Innovators on Tap” is a podcast that “brings listeners inside the minds of leaders who have inspired change in a variety of industries,” according to the Marquette website. The podcast aims to convey the message that innovation and leadership is for everyone.

“Innovators on Tap” producer and 2019 Marquette graduate Kyle Hagge came onboard for the project when he recognized how valuable learning about innovation was for college students.

“All this stuff comes down to, ultimately, if you’re dealing with innovation, you’re dealing with people,” Hagge said. “Any field you’re in, any space you’re in, if you can develop the right beliefs and behaviors as an individual to get that innovation mindset, that’s going to lead to innovation in any space.”

Working together, Hagge and College of Engineering ’89 alumus Chuck Swoboda aim to ask new and insightful questions that require guests to look past the surface of their career at what actually made an idea good or a solution innovative. The goal is to dig deeper and reframe innovation from a perspective that relates to the person behind the idea as opposed to the idea itself.

“I had a chance to test my ideas on a number of different people,” Swoboda said. “These conversations led to a lot of interesting stories and perspectives on leadership and innovation that were both unique and insightful.  And these were people you would probably never think of as innovative. The podcast is about their stories.”

Hagge elaborated on the podcast.

“For example, a common question we will ask is, ‘How do you think your childhood affects how you view innovation and … your mindset growing up?’ because (Swoboda) was working with a cognitive psychologist and a lot of it was about how these early influences you have in your life really dictate a lot,” Hagge said.

Last fall, Swoboda took a look at Marquette’s Engineers in the Lead program to see how the organization could give back to the Marquette community. The program had an established curriculum with knowledge and skill development, but he knew that something was missing the people behind true, everyday innovation.

When speaking on innovation, Swoboda expressed, “My goal is … to remind people that innovation is not reserved for the famous tech executives we read so much about.” After talking to so many people in his career and in the process of writing his book “The Innovator’s Spirit,” Swoboda said he knew this was simply not the case. There were so many ways to inspire innovation in an everyday workspace, not just at an executive level.

Swoboda decided to invest in the Innovation Alley leadership initiative at Marquette. Innovation Alley aims to “teach emerging and veteran leaders how to think differently, act boldly and deliver real, meaningful change” to truly be the difference at Marquette.

Innovation Alley operates on a four-pillar approach: developing leaders, igniting insights, engaging industries and creating opportunities. Swoboda stated that “Innovators on Tap” is fundamentally about Igniting Insights – opening doors to the real-world and developing and supporting new leaders.

Innovation Alley was previously only available to engineers through the Engineers in the Lead program, but now it will be open to everyone. Kate Trevey, director of Engineers in the Lead, said she is extremely excited for the extension of the program and the Innovation Alley initiative.

“I am thrilled this opportunity will be available to more students and for the multi-disciplinary impact it will have,” Trevey said. “I am equally thrilled that our students will have the opportunity to learn alongside world-class innovators and to build their own capacity to lead innovation.”

“Innovators on Tap” will release one full episode Sept. 16 to promote the podcast, followed by the official launch of five episodes Sept. 25. The duo said it hopes to release episodes on a weekly basis for the remainder of 2019. The podcast will be available on the podcast’s website and all major streaming platforms, including Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

“The goal of the podcast is to become more than just a podcast, but a platform,” Hagge said. “The end goal is to inspire the next generation of innovators and leaders.”

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