Emma Cabrera discovered how difficult it can be for businesses to quickly get the resources they need when she owned a small clothing and accessory store in Boston a decade ago. Now she’s devising a solution as a Suffolk University innovation fellow.

With her business administration degree in hand, Cabrera, Class of 2017, is applying the experiential and classroom lessons learned at Suffolk to make it easier for the University community and local businesses to collaborate.

The Center for Innovative Collaboration and Leadership chose Cabrera’s proposal for the fellowship, and the Eastern Bank Foundation and the Terino Family Foundation are providing funding for the venture.

Centralized menu of programs

Emma Cabrera with faculty advisers Susan  Nichter, Ilona Anderson, and Dominic Thomas“The project’s purpose is to create a centralized place where we gather all University programs and services available to people and businesses that want to collaborate with Suffolk,” she said. “We’re looking to improve organizations and invigorate learning through a cohesive business innovation menu.”

Cabrera’s has interviewed faculty and staff and researched opportunities through the suffolk.edu website to gather information about all available Suffolk resources.

She will then work closely with Art & Design Professor Ilona Anderson to “create a menu for businesses to gain easy access to resources available to them at Suffolk.”

The goal is to post the resource menu on the University website and distribute hard copies to faculty and staff.

Benefits to students

Students also are expected to benefit from this resource through expanded access to internships and other experiential learning opportunities.

Cabrera will seek advice from Interise, a national network of small businesses, community development organizations, government agencies, and business experts headquartered in Boston. She hopes that Interise will help her connect with local business leaders to determine how Suffolk resources can best meet their company needs.

Inspired by experiential learning

Cabrera’s innovation project inspiration stemmed from her own experience as a member of student teams working with local organizations to help them solve real-world business problems.

She and fellow students developed a consulting/management plan for a local real estate firm in a senior capstone management class. They interviewed staff, conducted surveys, and presented to the company president.

Cabrera and classmates in a global business course worked with a banking client, presenting their research about electronic money transfers on a national and global scale.

Getting the job done

Dominic Thomas, co-director of the Center for Innovative Collaboration and Leadership, said that Cabrera has what it takes to succeed with her current innovation fellow project.

“Emma is a good project manager who has a vision for Suffolk,” said Thomas, professor of information systems and operations management. “She is caring and determined and knows how to make things happen. I have complete confidence in her ability to get the job done.”

Cabrera’s resource tool would complement Suffolk’s, RamRecruiter, an online career management platform through which thousands of domestic and international employers engage with Suffolk students and alumni.

Employers use RamRecruiter, offered through the Career Development Center within the Division of Student Success, to promote internships opportunities and employment.

Cabrera’s innovative project will help to “enhance and increase partnership opportunities for employers in the business community and Suffolk,” said Career Development Center Executive Director Teresa DiMagno.

Photo: Innovation fellow Emma Cabrera with faculty advisers Susan  Nichter, Ilona Anderson, and Dominic Thomas