Innovators

How Emmanuel alumni are thriving in the changing world of work.

Innovation has long been a driver of the global economy. In the United States, new ideas in fields as diverse as agriculture and automobiles have helped push growth from the country’s founding on through the post-WWII era. Today, the innovation economy—powered by entrepreneurship and technological advancement—is rapidly

Today, the innovation economy—powered by entrepreneurship and technological advancement—is rapidly redefining industries and even building whole new ones: The mobile phone application market, projected to be worth $101 billion by 2020 and estimated to be responsible for as many as 1.6 million jobs, is not yet a decade old. The nascent Internet of Things, encompassing the growing world of smart devices, is estimated by consulting firm McKinsey to be worth $3.7 billion by 2020.

The innovation economy not only has affected the world’s jobs, but also how we work at them. Norms around everything from office hours to even the existence of offices have shifted. The World Economic Forum’s 2016 “The Future of Jobs” report asked chief human resources officers in some of the world’s largest companies what was driving change in their respective industries, and 44 percent reported that it was the changing nature of work—the highest percentage of any factor, besting mobile technology and cloud computing by 10 percentage points.

Emmanuel graduates are well prepared for roles in the innovation economy. As none other than Apple cofounder Steve Jobs famously said, “It’s in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough. It’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields the results that make our hearts sing.” Famed futurist and Google engineering director Ray Kurzweil recently sang the praises of liberal arts education at Big Think: “What we should teach in school in general is not this kind of spoon-feeding of facts, because we carry the facts around in our pockets. What they do need to learn is a thirst for knowledge and an ability to learn new material, to explore an area with a vision of what you want to accomplish.”

Alumni don’t have to look far from campus for opportunities. Massachusetts was named the most innovative state in America by a 2016 Bloomberg survey, edging out California. According to a Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (MassTech) report, Boston and Cambridge alone brought in more than 4,000 grants from the National Institutes of Health in 2014, totaling more than $2 billion. A 2017 report from MassTech found that 38 percent of employees in the state work in the innovation economy in some way. And the City-led effort to transform the South Boston waterfront into an “Innovation District” that began in 2010 has brought more than 5,000 new jobs to the area—and more than 10 million square feet of new development since 2000.

The recent addition of General Electric—which left its Connecticut headquarters to move to Fort Point— has been attributed in large part to Boston’s innovative ecosystem. “GE is not buying a place or a location,” Dennis Frenchman, a professor at the MIT Center for Real Estate, told the New York Times. “GE is buying into a culture that they want their employees to be a part of.” In September, GE CEO Jeff Immelt described the level of innovation as downright scary for a company of this size. “You just walk out the door, [and] you’re in the middle of an ecosystem that, quite honestly for a big company, makes you afraid, right? You’re where the ideas are. You get more paranoid when you’re doing that, and that’s a good thing.”

As senior manager of talent acquisition for a national biotech firm, and a 2008 graduate of Emmanuel’s Master of Science in Human Resource Management Program, Bonnie Schwamb knows that ecosystem well. She’s watched it change rapidly over the past 10 years, forcing changes in her industry. But even as her role adapts to a changing economy, Schwamb has noticed that some skills are consistently sought after. “You want to have the technical skills that fit the company,” she says. “Those skills will always be in demand.” But it’s also the ability for candidates to engage with their co-workers, hold strategic conversations, and engage in problem solving. “They may be considered soft skills, but they really matter,” Schwamb says. “They can be the difference makers.” –Dan Morrell

Emmanuel Innovators

Name: Laurence Bradford
Graduation Year: 2012
Major: History and Economics
Occupation: Product Educator, Teachable; Founder, Learn to Code With Me

Coding autodidact Bradford began Learn to Code With Me to “help other beginners start out strong, because I’ve been in their shoes,” she says on her website. Bradford’s writing about the power of coding has appeared everywhere from Forbes to Mashable, and she puts her skills into action at Teachable, a leading EdTech startup based in New York City.

Name: Lily Gagliardi DaCruz
Graduation Year: 2008
Major: Development Psychology
Occupation:Founder and CEO, Lily’s Kids; Digital Health Coach, Omada Health

Born with a congenital heart condition, DaCruz began Lily’s Kids in 2007 to help educate and advocate for children’s heart health. She helped push Connecticut to pass a law in 2012 that requires heart screenings for all newborns, and now also works as a health coach at Omada Health, which specializes in digital applications for chronic disease prevention.

Name: Boris Perlovsky
Graduation Year: 2006
Major: Business Administration
Occupation: Director, Cambridge Innovation Center

Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC) creates powerful innovation communities for entrepreneurs. CIC has been described as having “more startups than anywhere else on the planet.” That number is growing, too: The company has recently expanded beyond Perlovsky’s Cambridge location to downtown Boston’s Financial District, St. Louis, Miami and Rotterdam, and has announced projects in Providence and Philadelphia.

Name: Charles Philip Pozzi
Graduation Year: 2009
Major: Business Management
Occupation: Founder and Shoe Designer, Charles Philip Shanghai

Pozzi’s footwear brand has turned the “Made in China” label on its head with his Shanghai-made slippers, telling Forbes that “Shanghai today is what New York was in the Eighties—everything is possible. We love the city, and mentioning its name in our brand is a sign of appreciation.”

Name: Emily Williams
Graduation Year: 2016
Major: Mathematics
Occupation: Business Analyst, The Axial Company

Williams built a math skills app to help the adult students she tutored at the Notre Dame Education Center, telling Wicked Local Southborough that “Math education can be a confidence tool.” Williams also told the paper that she donated the app to the center as part of her work as a member of the 1804 Society, a mission and student leadership organization at Emmanuel.