McGill names Angelique Manella new ‘AVP of Innovation’

McGill University has hired Angelique Manella as its first associate vice-principal of innovation, a move the school is making “to enact change from within.”

Manella comes to McGill after several years working within Montreal’s non-profit tech sphere. She took office at her new position on Monday and will oversee McGill’s “innovation agenda.”

The computer programmer, social entrepreneur, marketing strategist and business developer told the McGill Reporter’s Kathryn Jezer-Morton that driving change in an institution like McGill will be a challenge.

“A culture of innovation and entrepreneurship involves collectively committing to audacious goals and having the drive to achieve them with excellence,” says Mannella. “It also very much involves moving quickly, embracing change, and adapting in order to generate as much value as possible, as quickly as possible.”

Mannella’s track record of building on interesting ideas for social good likely played a role in McGill’s decision to hire her. She founded Decode Global in 2012 with seed funding from phone giant Nokia, the company she previously worked for. Decode Global developed mobile games designed to teach kids about global issues.

In Get Water! players help a young girl collect potable water on the small island where she lives. The game teaches players about the impacts of climate change on low-lying island nations, as well as the impact of young girls being forced to drop out of school.

According to the Reporter, Mannella recently collaborated with Concordia University on Arcade Our Way, a research project on game design with an all-female team consisting of teens, undergraduates, graduate students and gaming professionals. The team is creating a “counter-narrative game about alternative leadership models.”

If that wasn’t enough, Mannella has been working with the infoDev group at the World Bank, supporting digital entrepreneurship and innovation initiatives in the Caribbean and African markets in Kenya, South Africa and Senegal.

Now she’ll lead a new position at a university that doubtless possesses a massive number of bright students who’s ideas and research can always be better-nurtured.

“McGill has a duty to ask hard questions about local and global problems – and it is in a privileged position to act,” said Mannella. “The research is what makes any kind of innovation agenda possible,” she said. “The innovation agenda isn’t about a path to millions – it’s about finding the most impact for your discovery.”

According to the Reporter, the position Mannella steps into is relatively new among North American universities.

“Similar positions have been created at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, the University of Maryland, and at MIT. Currently, York University and the University of Ottawa are in the process of creating innovation-focused positions within senior administration,” wrote the Reporter.

“Students are demanding more opportunities to develop entrepreneurship skills,” Mannella told the paper. “This is part of the response to that.”

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