ZF way to go Right time, right place

German development engineer Philip Recker moved from tranquil Lake Constance to sizzling Shanghai. He’s enjoying the change.

A twinkling expanse of light and color stretches out below Philip Recker and Svenja Kellermann, edged by the dark ribbon of the Huangpu River. The brightly lit skyscrapers towering over Pudong seem close enough to touch. Whenever the ZF engineer and his wife visit the bar on the 87th floor of Shanghai’s Grand Hyatt hotel, they are overwhelmed by this spectacular view.

Recker has been living as an expat since fall of 2012, working in the ZF Development Center in the western part of this Chinese city of 25 million people. “When I was first offered the job, I was a little uncertain. Yes, I had worked as a trainee in China back in 2007, but full-scale relocation would be an even bigger upheaval,” remembers the young engineer. The young couple have now been living in China for more than two years, and their anxieties have vanished away. Philip Recker manages a team of eleven engineers, working on automatic transmissions destined for the Chinese market.

Recker and his team develop suitable solutions in close collaboration with local manufacturers. And Svenja Kellermann quickly found work with a German firm. Even so, she learned some Chinese before they made the move: “it made sense, because it helps if you can talk to the taxi driver as you’re heading for a job interview!” Her husband has also encountered the language problem in his work with Chinese vehicle manufacturers. “What’s more, there are some major cultural differences, but fortunately our Sino-German team has got a really good handle on those in most everyday situations.” The couple are still excited by Shanghai – a true megacity. “It’s all so dynamic; everything is constantly changing,” explains Recker, as he takes another look at the glittering night sky on the other side of the 87th-floor window. “Right now, we’re simply enjoying living here.


Philip Recker and his wife Svenja Kellermann have been living in Shanghai since 2012. The video provides an insight into their life.

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