Welcome to Central Eurasia Leadership Alliance
The Central Eurasia Leadership Alliance (CELA) is an ambitious, multicultural initiative, promoting regional cooperation and fostering the development of tomorrow’s most forward-thinking, mid-career leaders in the Caucasus, Central Asia and Afghanistan.
What is CELA?
Thirty years ago, a group of American business leaders recognized that global economic interdependence required them to establish successful international business networks and partnerships. They formed the Society of International Business Fellows (SIBF) to further the development of their international business goals, but in the ensuing 30 years the organization has grown. SIBF members want to share their experience with future leaders around the world.
The CELA organization for which you are applying was started in 2002 by SIBF members to begin sharing this experience in Central Eurasia. The idea was to develop a regional platform for development and cooperation by supporting and linking the new generation of mid-career leaders from eight countries of the former Soviet Union (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan) and Afghanistan. In terms of general worldview, culture, society, language, professional and personal goals these people had much in common and much to share. CELA created a platform and network that allowed them to make these personal connections, open professional channels, and do projects together.
Who attends CELA?
CELA members are citizens of one of the nine countries of the Central Eurasia region, typically in their 30s, and working in the sectors of business, government, or NGOs/civil society. They are the innovators and the agents of change – the ones who want to make a positive difference in their societies. The gateway to membership in CELA was an intense 10-day leadership academy at the Koç University in Istanbul, Turkey and now at the American University of Bulgaria in Blagoevgrad. There is a highly competitive selection process. Approximately 40 new CELA members are selected annually and inducted in the network. In addition, over a dozen members of the SIBF come as presenters, instructors, facilitators and mentors, bringing their real-life experience to the program to ensure it have a highly practical flavor.
What are the outcomes of CELA?
The pillars of CELA are learning, linking and working together. Learning comes in the form of the leadership education which members experience in the annual summer leadership academies, and then the follow-up events held in the course of the years in the countries of the region. These have ranged from business roundtables in the Caucasus, or a conference on tourism development in Central Asia, to workshops on mountain development in Tajikistan or corporate social responsibility in Georgia. In each case, best practices and lessons learned are shared among participants from different parts and perspectives of the region. This is the point about linking and working together in CELA – it means pooling knowledge from within the region itself, and turning them into actionable ideas appropriate to the local circumstances.
To individual CELA members this network has meant new opportunities in their professional lives, sustainable personal growth and dep and long lasting friendships. The addition of parallel networks in the Middle East, Southeast Asia and North America make these opportunities for ambitious business development even broader. For more individual comments see the Testimonials.