Tomás Olivieri Acosta

Ashoka Fellow
Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Fellow Since 2012


This profile was prepared when Tomás Olivieri Acosta was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2012.
The New Idea
In Argentina, unemployed people over the age of 45 face innumerable hardships in finding gainful and productive employment. Stigmatized as too expensive and unproductive, after that age these hardworking individuals are sadly let go from their longstanding employers, and they struggle to get on their feet again. Tomás seeks nothing less than a paradigm shift in how society treats and values the work of the 45 and older generation. With his organization, Diagonal, Tomás closely accompanies people to find meaning in their lives again as they recover from a tremendous blow to their welfare and well-being. His trained coaches build their confidence and prepare them for a new career and a new phase of their lives. Participants graduate from the program confident and determined to begin the next phase of their productive career, with 57 percent becoming gainfully employed within six months. Many become independent entrepreneurs in their own right, thus showing a complete turnaround in their life to becoming productive and cutting-edge leaders in their society.

Tomás is constructing a new fabric that values and celebrates the contributions of workers 45 years and older through two distinct angles. Besides working carefully with individuals through an intense, effective two-month program carried out mainly by trained volunteers, Diagonal supports the private sector, universities, and the larger society. Businesses learn how to realign their policies, practices, and culture so that they can better utilize their most experienced employees, who have learned irreplaceable lessons after having lived through many of Argentina’s crises. Through initiatives with universities, public policy changes, and a major new prize that recognizes and celebrates outstanding contributions by those 45 and older, Diagonal hopes to raise the visibility of this problem and reshape society into one that values, not shuns, older professionals. With an already high success rate of reinserting 45+ individuals into the labor force and a replicable model that relies on volunteer professionals and partners with businesses, governments, and unemployed workers, Tomás is beginning to grow his organization to reach other areas of Argentina and engender a national shift in attitudes and behaviors.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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