Celera Programme: a talent development accelerator


Asociación CELERA was created to identify talented people in Spain and provide them with a set of tools to foster their development and make the most of all its personal potential

“If you believe that there is a solution to every problem you are not an optimistic; you are talented” (Oihana Basilio, director)

Using words to define “talent” is no easy task. Talent is a combination of aptitudes, actitudes and personal initiative that may generate new ideas, bring them to life and transform the world. Talent has been, is and will continue to be the driving force of the human race. It is one of the main assets of a country, and yet talent is wasted in Spain, and brain drain is frequent. A number of public and private initiatives already exist in the country with the goal to identify talented people and help them achieve more. But the aforementioned initiatives are focused on particular projects, on business plans, on the creation of new companies… while talent lies in the person. There is something missing in the picture. 

Asociación CELERA was created to identify talented people in Spain and provide them with a set of tools to develop and make the most of their potential. The person’s potential, not that of a particular project. Talent has a light of its own, and the young people chosen would undoubtedly manage to make the most of their maximum potential without Celera’s support. Nevertheless, one of the main goals of the Association is to get the process ahead, to accelerate it by providing them with training, resources, contact networks and connections with key people and institutions by means of a custom-made acceleration plan.  

In order to achieve this goal, the Expert Panel (consisting of Celera sponsors and collaborators) chooses 10-15 young talents to be offered the programme at no cost. The Expert Panel that evaluated the candidates chosen for the first promotion of Celera included Vicente Montes and Almudena Díez (Fundación Rafael del Pino), Paloma Cabello (Alternative Investment Specialist), Ricardo Forcano (BBVA), Eduardo Romero (Repsol Foundation), Juan Luis Rodríguez (Repsol), Sebastián Feimblatt (Global Shapers Madrid), Joaquín Cuenca (Panoramio) and Javier García. 

Oihana BasilioTo find out more about the project, we interviewed Oihana Basilio, Director of the Celera programme, who told us everything about the programme, its goals and scope:


What is the Celera Programme? Whom is it intended for?

This is a custom-made acceleration programme focused on the development of key resources and capacities to make the most of inborn talent in chosen young applicants. The Celera team believes that success -defined as the achievement of the goals and dreams every person has- is based on a number of intangible capacities or assets, including intra- and inter-personal socio-emotional capacities as well as key experiencies and contact networks, both from a national and international point of view. This is why the acceleration programme is divided into two sub-programmes or tools that focus on the development of these two different sorts of intangible assets: Celera.ME and Celera.NET. 

The acceleration programme is designed for talented young people in any area of expertise, with a high potential for development, proactivity and energy, as well as a positive actitude. The programme is developed over a three-year period, in which chosen candidates will have access to a custom-made programme that includes training, network development and opportunities at national and international level. Candidates must be 35 years old or younger, and living in Spain is a prerequisite. We just started the first pilot promotion (that will last a year) in which we concentrated all the key aspects of the whole programme.  


How and when did the idea to create the programme arise?

A couple of years ago circumstances were devastating: Spain was at the lead of youth unemployment in the European Union and brain drain posed a serious threat to the country’s future capacities. Many highly-trained young people, along with talented researchers, moved abroad. This was partially caused by the lack of opportunities for development in Spain and by the scarcity of initiatives devoted to the revitalization of young people’s optimism and confidence in their capacity to create a real change. In this context, the idea to create a people-centered initative arised, to support young people along their ways and show them they are not alone. 

With the desire to support young talent as the starting point -and drawing on his own experience all along his successful career- Javier García Martínez decided to create and provide resources for the Asociación Celera in March 2014, along with two people who shared his vision: Carlos Vivas and Diego Lafuente. Recently, the Fundación Rafael del Pino signed a cooperation agreement with us, and they are deeply engaged in the project, both in terms of resources and in the evolution of the programme.   


Who belongs to the company? It’s a very young team, isn’t it?

Indeed, the average age of our team is around 33 years old. The team includes the three founders -Javier García (director of the Laboratorio de Nanotecnología at the Universidad de Alicante, founder of Rive Technology and Rey Jaime I Prize for New Technologies 2014; Diego Lafuente (Industrial Engineer and founder of several companies, such as Flashbooking, Makingthings, TUI Travel) and Carlos Vivas (master’s degree in Innovation Economy and Management, and founder of Seinnova)- and several other people: Natalia Pedrajas (psychologist and Apec founder), coordinator of the Celera.ME programme, and Elena Díaz (master’s degree in Cultural Heritage Management and director at Multivent), a fundamental support for event management. Apart from leading the programme, my role is to be a “talent manager” for the chosen candidates, and handle the schedule of events, training and opportunities for each of them.   


What is the added value of Celera, in contrast with other already-existing talent promotion programmes? 

Celera provides a custom-made approach in the development of the acceleration programme by tailoring the interesting events and opportunities to each person, as well as providing an individual follow-up of the schedule for each participant. Besides, we offer a combination of highly customized personal and network development, which in our opinion provides unique value for the participants. 

Nevertheless, the most relevant difference offered by Celera is the programme not being related to the presentation or development of a specific project, but to the talent and potential of the participants. This is a substantial difference with most existing programmes, where support is given to a specific business plan or research project.  


Celera programmeSpain is a country with great potential and talents. Which are the problems currently faced by the country in development terms?Celera programme

Several aspects need improvement, not only to leave the crisis behind, but to create solid grounds for development. To begin with, strong support, sufficient resources and a comprehensive State Treaty on education and research are required. These are two fundamental areas for the future, and both have suffered severe cutbacks. Besides, I think that support should also come in terms of an update in the training of young people. We live in a changing environment in which teaching partitioned subjects or specializations (in which students are trained to assume a specific post in a company once they earn their degree) are no longer valid. 

Moreover, I believe we should make an effort to shift from a passive, “too self-conscious” actitude to the reinforcement of “self-esteem and social self-confidence”, so that young people and adults keep in mind that dreams may only be achieved when you really believe in them and follow them. I think those subjects are not yet part of formal training. We should promote a holistic training approach. 


What does the mentoring programme of participants entail?

Our wish is to mentor participants in the development process we offer, by trying to open some of the doors that could be closed for them and by supporting them in finding out new areas of development and in fulfilling their potential. To this end, we have a team of professionals that specialize in the development of socio-emotional abilities, multiple intelligences, positive thinking, etc., and will provide custom-made directions to each participant. Besides, we are going to partner each participant with a business coach who provides support in the definition of their objectives and goals. 


What is the specific role of the “talent manager”?

The “talent manager” handles the specific training programme for a given candidate and coordinates both development programmes. The role of the talent manager is to filter national and international events, conferences, seminars and training actions that may be of interest for each participant, and finds the most suitable coaches for each particular case, manages their participation in great opportunities worldwide and is involved in a continuous follow-up of their progress and their needs, so that we may cater for them as much as we can. In this sense, I consider myself to be a mentor for the participants, helping them draw the guidelines to develop their potential to its fullest.


Your first class of participants is already here. What did they achieve? How did they benefit from being a part of your programme?

We are very proud of our first class of participants, who will take part in the one-year pilot project. This is a very diverse group, and participant’s profiles range from people who hold a Ph.D., Ph.D. candidates and researchers in subjects as diverse as veterinary science, industrial engineering, chemistry or biomedicine to entrepreneurs and people working in private companies. Besides, we also created a diverse group in terms of age and trajectory to date, as some of them are still finishing their university training while others have already been rewarded by the MIT Technology Review. This is why we want to create the optimal ecosystem for ideas, interlinkages and a passion for action to arise. We are certain that diversity is a fundamental component of such an ecosystem.