Designs creative learning programs in the urban realm

Katja Hellkötter

Founder and Managing Director

Magali Menant

Co-Founder and Managing Partner

Chu Yan

Project Manager

Dr. Annette Erpenstein

Program Consultant

Katja founded CONSTELLATIONS in Shanghai in 2009 and now relocated to Berlin to head the Berlin office; prior to this, she had been involved in strategic European-Chinese cooperation for over a decade, gaining wide experience as a manager and expert in various positions, such as:

  • Chief Representative of the City of Hamburg in Shanghai , where she built partnerships and initiated numerous projects between the twinned cities (2000-2006);
  • China strategy consultant for the head office of the Goethe-Institut (2006-2007);
  • Manager for environmental marketing at the Delegation of the German Industry and Commerce Shanghai (1998-2000).

In 2002, Katja was the first woman and first person from the non-profit sector to receive the Silver Magnolia Award from the City of Shanghai, an annual prize awarded by the Shanghai City Government to foreigners for their outstanding contributions to Chinese and international co-operation.

Katja graduated from the Bremen University of Applied Sciences with a degree in Chinese studies, Chinese language and International Management. She first came to China as an exchange student in 1994, staying at Sichuan University in Chengdu, followed by an internship in 1996 in Huhhot, Inner Mongolia where she worked on a renewable energy project for GIZ. Katja completed her applied research postgraduate project on management theories with fieldwork in India.

Katja is a seasoned moderator with a strong ability to bring about the big picture. Furthermore, has joined the Theory U training program offered by Prof. Otto Scharmer, MIT Lecturer and Founder of the Presencing Institute.

Katja is fluent in German, English, French and Chinese.

Magali has been working in China since 2001 with a strong focus on Sino-European/ German cooperation on sustainability and urbanization issues. Magali has a solid understanding of current sustainability issues linked to rapid urbanization in China and has extensive experience in marketing, public-private partnership building and strategic network development. She co-owns CONSTELLATIONS since 2012.

Previously, Magali worked at the Delegation of German Commerce and Industry in Shanghai for 9 years, where she was in charge of promoting Sino-German cooperation for sustainability:

  • Initiated and headed the ECONET CHINA platform, promoting greentech from Germany in China through marketing, strategic network and pilot projects development (2007-11): With her team, Magali developed a platform called econet china, which aims at further positioning German solutions for sustainability in China, particularly successful concepts for energy efficiency in building and sustainable urban development. Econet china acts as an industry and research consortium, pooling resources from various stakeholders to offer solutions to Chinese decision makers including local governments, developers, investors, city planners and design institutes.
  • Industry cooperation and marketing for ECOBUILD SHANGHAI 2006, a sister-city project between Hamburg and Shanghai for the promotion of ecological building concepts (2005-06)
  • China Manager of INTEC, a international technology cooperation network (2003-04)

With a degree in International Business (BA, ESCE, France), Magali first came to China in 2001 to conduct research on opportunities in the Chinese wind energy market for a French wind turbine manufacturer. She later on completed a Master in International Relations at the Free University in Berlin. Her main interests are urban governance and the role of cities on the global stage, and her masters thesis focused on city-to-city networking and sustainability studies.

She is a trained facilitator (group collaboration) and experienced moderator. Magali has completed training programs in facilitation of collaborative workshops in Formapart, Paris as well as a SPOT Facilitation training by the Facilitation Network Singapore

Magali is fluent in English, German, Chinese, Polish and French.

Chu Yan worked at the Cultural and Education Section of the Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany Shanghai (Goethe-Institut) before joining CONSTELLATIONS’ team in 2013. There, she was responsible for building German-Chinese educational and cultural cooperation. Her passion for this topic also arose from her studies, which she conducted at Tongji University in China and Passau University in Germany. She graduated with a Magister degree in education, law and philosophy. During her studies she was able to gain experience in a variety of different areas, including different departments of the German industry, Culture and Training Center and Law firm. With a strong interest of Shanghai’s regional culture, she returned to Shanghai after graduating in Germany.

Chu Yan is responsible for office management as well as Shanghai Flaneur projects. With her intercultural background, she loves to research the old and new of the city from both Chinese and foreign perspectives.

Dr. Annette Erpenstein brings her passion and know-how on urban issues as well as mediation skills to CONSTELLATIONS in a variety of projects since June 2017.

Furthermore, in parallel, Dr. Annette Erpenstein serves since 2004 as official representative for the German Chamber of Architects Germany, the Network for Architecture Exchange, in South-Korea, the US and China. From 2004 to 2007, she worked as adjunct-professor in the department of urban planning at the University of Seoul in South-Korea where she also did the research for her dissertation on „Urban conflict studies in Korea“. In Seoul, she also worked for the German Embassy, German Chamber of Commerce and other organizations offering walking programs for industry, academic and government delegations alike, sharing her local urban and social insider knowledge.

Dr. Annette speaks German, English, and Chinese at an intermediate level.