I remember the first time I met Kristina in 2015. Though both German we were in London for a conference of the then newly launched Global Social Entrepreneurship Network. After two days of conversations and story-sharing with some of Europe’s finest ecosystem builders for social change (you’ve already met Kaat Peeters!), Kristina and I both escaped the windowless conference location into a typically grey London afternoon. To be honest, I hadn’t engaged much with Kristina for most of the event because she oozes professionalism and expertise which I found a little… well… intimidating!
As we were strolling past St Paul’s Cathedral toward Tate Modern, however, I quickly realized that she is not only extremely competent when it comes to helping social entrepreneurs build sustainable business models, but also an incredibly kind, funny and all-around wonderful person. I’ve been team Kristina ever since!
Today, Kristina is the executive director of the Social Entrepreneurship Akademie (SEA) in Munich, Germany, and acts as the “connecting person to everyone within the organization as well as to external stakeholders like the advisory board, funders, board and wider network.” Her counterpart Dominik Domnik is in charge of finances and fundraising while Kristina manages HR, strategy, operations and problem solving.
Social Entrepeneurship Akademie in a nutshell.
“Our vision is a society that faces social, environmental and economical challenges actively and with critical thinking. We see education as the key to societal change. We are a central point of contact for all those who seek to reconcile entrepreneurial action with social thinking. We support both the emergent social entrepreneur who is just starting out in his field and the founder who is already successful and looking to develop and implement her new ideas.”
As Executive Director, what is your mission?
“A good spirit, smooth operations and an empowered team that drives its own initiatives. We try our best to innovate and integrate new aspects into our programs. I call it a success when we receive feedback from our participants that the program delivered value to develop or further strengthen their entrepreneurial mindset. In short, my role is to take care of our people and ensure we have a positive impact on their lives, personally and professionally. When someone says ‘Kristina, that really made a difference!’ I feel like I did a good job.
Your thoughts on the social entrepreneurship scene in Germany?
“You see, the social enterprise ecosystem has become somewhat fragmented. We see more and more players, but of course they vary in their approaches and more so in their quality. I get the sense that at this stage of ecosystem maturity, there’s quite a bit of reinventing the wheel and confusion about who does what, and what it’s called. In my experience, the social sector is still very interested in all things new and sexy. With SEA we have been around from the early days on, we are not new, but we are good. Our model has proven to be effective and deliver results.”
What does it take to run an organization like Social Entrepreneurship Akademie?
“Self-confidence. You have to know who you are and what you are good at. In general, as an organizational leader you are better equipped if you’re willing and capable to learn. There is never a time when you don’t need to adapt on the fly, question, or be subject to change. It helps being a generalist, an all-rounder with clear competences.”
But Kristina is far from claiming perfection. What’s on her wishlist for improvement?
“Creativity is a big one.
I’m very good at creating ideas and connecting things that aren’t obvious to other people. I love solving issues.
But I lack the time to always implement these and I would prefer for someone to come on board and see it through to the end.
Another question that pops up again and again is around our impact. Am I solving the right problems? Are my efforts needed? Am I thinking big enough?”
Is my impact real, necessary?
Organizational leader. Issue solver. Creative firestarter.