19 March 2020

An increasingly connected talent network| Part Two

Two weeks ago, some members of the new Board at the ”la Caixa” Fellows Organisation presented other fellows who they had the chance to meet through this talent network. We’ll be finishing off this two-part article today and finding out some more about new fellows through the rest of the board. Once again, connections between fellows, which come about through the activities organised by the association, underscore the wealth of professional and personal opportunities that nurture our community.


Of course, our annual dinners are one of the most important spaces for networking. It was at one of these events that Rosa Gutiérrez, programmer and board member, met Luis Martín, who works in the same field as her. After completing a master’s programme in network engineering at the Polytechnic University of Madrid in 2010, Luis joined the team at Microsoft, before moving to Cisco System and then ending up at Facebook, where he is working to provide internet access to those who don’t have it. However, Rosa told us that, apart from his professional side, when they met in Madrid, she also discovered his “great conversation skills and amazing sense of humour.”


These meetings also make it possible for people with vastly different careers to come together. The friendship between linguist and member of the new board, Alfonso Sánchez-Moya, and human reproduction specialist Francesc Madriles is testimony to this. Francesc, a biologist by training, was awarded a ”la Caixa” fellowship to complete a master’s programme in molecular biomedicine at the Autonomous University of Madrid in 2010. After completing his PhD at the CNIO on pancreatic cancer, his drive to keep on learning led him to start helping infertile couples to make their dreams of having family come true at Instituto Dexeus. “If it wasn't for these constructive and stimulating spaces, I may not have met Cesc, a creative person who’s brimming with curiosity,” said Alfonso. 


New board member Elena Marbán has met people with a real commitment to society through the ”la Caixa” Fellows Association; one of them is Albert Njoroge Kahira, who she describes as “a dedicated and committed person who’s able to take on any challenge you set before him.” Albert, who grew up in a family with eight brothers and sisters in rural Kenya, managed to obtain an INPhINIT PhD scholarship which allowed him to join the team at the ground-breaking Barcelona Supercomputing Center. “At some point in the future he wants to give back to his country with everything he has learned to improve people’s health with new technology, bringing politics into play too,” Elena told us. 


Miguel Ampudia was selected by the secretary of the new board, Ignacio Domínguez. They met in Massachusetts, the state they both moved to in 2007 after getting a postgraduate fellowship to study in the USA. While working on his PhD at the University of Boston, Miguel had an accident in his upper back. However, the injury didn’t hold him back from his continuing in his brilliant academic and professional career, finishing his PhD and getting a job as an economist at the Central European Bank in Frankfurt. “His endurance and his huge power to overcome all adversities make him an inspirational figure for all of us to look up to” said Ignacio.


Roser Peiró, another board member, told us that what she most likes about Eulàlia Gràcia is “her down-to-earthness and her passion for science.” Eulàlia got a postgraduate fellowship in France in 1990 and since 2018 she’s been working as a researcher at the Instituto de Ciencias del Mar - CSIC, making time for field trips at sea, scientific diving* and family life. What's more, like Roser, she also often takes part in activities organised by the Fellows Association. Both met for the first time on a trip to the Cap Roig gardens in Girona organised by the association a few years ago and they have stayed in touch ever since.


For Pau Bermúdez-Cañete, a new board member and a partner at the risk capital firm Suma Capital, it’s a joy to have Jordi Sellarès in his life. “We only met two years ago and from the outset he seemed like a truly fascinating person.” In 1989, Jordi was awarded a ”la Caixa” fellowship to complete a master’s programme in International Relations at the University of Cambridge and was chairman of the association from 2004 until 2008. He is currently the secretary of the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce and is still committed to the association, regularly organising events to build it up.


Pau, who describes the association as a “meeting place”, is the last member of this two-part article in which the new board members present other members of the community. This is just the tip of the iceberg of the countless professional and personal connections that grow every day in the ”la Caixa” Fellows Association. The challenge that the new board faces is not just to maintain these connections, but also to multiply their effects. We’re sure they can do it!