Our Story


How CONSTELLATIONS evolved: Some milestones of our story:

2002: Green Passion: Katja Hellkoetter and Magali Menant met at a conference on ‘Eco Efficiency’, organized by Katja in her function as Environmental Marketing Manager at the Delegation of German Industry and Commerce Shanghai in cooperation with the Wuppertal Institute, and sustainability expert Dr. Cheng Yiheng, at BASF at the time, today part of CONSTELLATIONS expert network.

2002: Sustainability & Business: The European event ‘Green Ventures Asia’ took place in Shanghai and gave Magali and Katja the opportunity to become colleagues at the Delegation of German Industry and Commerce. Despite lack of budgets and market maturity, they persistently pursued their green visions: Magali developed econet china and Katja the Hamburg-Shanghai City Cooperation.

2006: Eco-Cities: One of the projects initiated and catalyzed, ‘ecobuild shanghai 2006’, paved the way for the Hamburg ‘Passivhaus’ at the Shanghai World Expo 2010 Urban Best Practice Area.

2008: Learning Theories and Practices: In the search for methodologies to enable better dialogues, Katja discovered the field of transformative learning and completed the Theory U – foundation program for leadership; Magali started her Master in International Relations at FU Berlin in 2010 with the topic of “Learning Cities” as one of her major research interests.

2009: Entrepreneurial Spirit: CONSTELLATIONS (Shanghai) Co Ltd. is set-up by Katja, a consultancy offering ideas, concepts and management for cooperation at the interface of culture, education and sustainability. Magali – all-time partner with Katja – is conducive in creating the name and concept.

2010: New Ways of Learning: SHANGHAI FLANEUR is launched at the occasion of the Shanghai World Expo, offering ‘Talks, Walks, Learning Programs in the City on the City’. What started as a cultural project at the side becomes a flagship program offered by CONSTELLATIONS as a China knowledge provider.

2010: System-Approach and Processes: Cecile Mazourine, shareholder of ELST Associate Management Consultants, Luxembourg – by now CONSTELLATIONS’ associated partner – joined Katja as a co-worker in the CONSTELLATIONS Office at Jiashan Market. With Cecile a trained holistic coach and Katja a system-thinker CONSTELLATIONS’ approach evolves further towards incorporating three levels: the organization, the society and the individual. The creation of the CONSTELLATIONS signature learning program ‘Self to Society’ is a later result of this cooperation.

2011: Culture Matters: The Europe-China Cultural Compass was published, a comprehensive China context handbook, curated and compiled by Katja as an Editor-in-Chief.

2012: Collaborative Leadership: Katja and Magali fulfilled their long envisioned venture of joining forces as entrepreneurs: They became co-owners of CONSTELLATIONS (Shanghai) Co. Ltd. Magali not only brings her expertise from strategic partnership und industry alliance management, but also further strong process skills.

2013: Creativity Boost: Together with Cecile, CONSTELLATIONS initiated ‘CREA LAB’, a monthly meet-up for a circle of like-minded partners experimenting creative methodologies for idea generation, incubation and learning.

2013: Checks and Balances: Chu Yan, originally from Dalian with studies in law in Passau, Germany, joined the CONSTELLATIONS’ core team as a management assistant, becoming the office’s ‘backbone’.

2013: Urban Studies, Cosmopolitan Spirit: Lea Ayoub, originally from Lebanon with studies in urban design at LSE London and work in cultural heritage in Paris, joined the CONSTELLATIONS’ team as SHANGHAI FLANEUR program manager.

2013: (Social) Business Models: Magali is invited for the first time to facilitate the business game in the frame of the course on “Leadership and Strategy” at the ESSCA Shanghai, a French Business School.

2014: 20 years of China relations: CONSTELLATIONS co-initiates ‘URBAN CAMPUS Chengdu’, a sustainability learning program at Sichuan University. With Dr. Lu Hongyan from the Faculty of Environment, this project is also a true gift of ‘sustainable relations’: Hongyan and Katja had been language exchange partners 20 years earlier, in 1994.

2014: Facilitation and Empathy: Liu Yi joins the CONSTELLATIONS’ core team: A professional facilitator trained in practices such as ‘non-violent communication’, a global minded diversity lover with work experience in in Europe, Liberia and Yunnan, an Alumni of the ‘Sino-German Zukunftsbrücke Young Leaders’, Liu Yi enriches CONSTELLATIONS team further.

2014: Going Berlin: Invited by LEAD – Mercator Center for Leadership and Advocacy, Magali and Katja design and moderate the CHINA LAB learning program in Berlin.

2015: Diversity Works: Under the lead development of Cecile and Liu Yi, CONSTELLATIONS’ launches a new signature learning program for diversity management at the workplace, specializing in the three areas: disability, next generation and culture.

2015: Responsible Business Collaboration: CONSTELLATIONS founders, Katja and Magali, managed to catalyze an initiative of the German industry in Shanghai: China – More than a Market,, together with the German Chamber, the German Consulate in Shanghai and the Bertelsmann Stiftung: 30+ CEOs responded positively and joined the kick off strategy roundtable.

2015: Young Talents and University-to-Business: CONSTELLATIONS is invited for the next 3 years as advisor to develop the new Career Center at the University of Shanghai for Science and Technology in cooperation with Hamburg University of Applied Science. This gives opportunity to link again with 10 year-old networks from the Hamburg-Shanghai city partnership.

With new constellations of people and places, ideas and impulses we keep continuously learning, growing, changing…

Since its foundation in 2009, CONSTELLATIONS has:

  • Worked with 58 corporate clients (including SHANGHAI FLANEUR programs);
  • Designed programs for 4 major (German) corporate foundations;
  • Worked with 7 public institutions (from Germany, UK, Denmark and the EU );
  • 1 Chinese semi-government client consortium;
  •  Walked with over 3000 individuals;
  •  Subcontracted 54 experts and co-workers.