Who we are
Maria Elena Escalona
Maria has always had a strong entrepreneurial influence through her family. She studied Liberal Arts in Venezuela, where she received formal training in politics, philosophy, economics and history. In Berlin, she gained valuable work experience in retail and sales, culminating in her role as a Learning Specialist and Trainer at Wayfair. This experience allowed her to develop her public speaking, active listening, empathy and problem solving skills and gain insight into the interior design industry.
I have a B.Sc. in Sustainable Development and have become increasingly involved in global agricultural change in recent years. I became part of the founding team of OnTop and established the first rooftop farm at a German university.
As I find that creating meaningful projects gives me energy and that I have always followed my visions, I started the Master programme Sustainable Entrepreneurship & Social Innovation at the HNE Eberswalde in September 2022. I also work in sales for a social impact start-up.
My parents fled the civil war in Sri Lanka and I was born in Germany. My strong roots in Tamil culture led me to volunteer in development cooperation in Sri Lanka.
I started my professional career with a bachelor’s degree in Real Estate Management while working for the international wholesale group METRO AG in Düsseldorf.
After moving to Berlin, I worked as a Project and Investment Manager to gain experience in long-term, complex and high-volume projects. In this positions I developed the necessary skills to overcome challenges in fast moving environments.
To dive deeper into leadership and sustainability, I decided to start my master’s in Sustainable Entrepreneurship & Social Innovation at the University for Sustainable Development (HNE) in Eberswalde. During this program, we work on our business ideas and get support through practical structures and science-based guidelines to found a social impact start-up.
Martin Christoph Preis
My first work experience I gained in a rural development project in the Veraguas province in Panama. During the one year I spend there I learned a lot about the life in underprivileged rural regions and learned a lot about the life in underprivileged rural regions and learned about the structures that hindered communities in their development.
Studying business administration in the context of sustainability at Leuphana University in Lüneburg I was confronted with a new understanding of entrepreneurship based on social and ecological goals and gained professional experience in a sustainable mobility consultancy. I followed my research interest to the University of Sustainable Development Eberswalde (HNEE) where I am currently studying Sustainable Entrepreneurship and Social Innovation.