In 2010, I got to travel to Berlin, Germany to attend the Citrix Synergy conference that year. The idea of going back to Germany to film one of our 2018 Innovation Award stories was exciting to me. I thought, “Cool! Am I going back to Berlin? No. Munich? Nope. Frankfurt? Uh-uh. Um… okaaaaaay, then. Where exactly am I going??”

I packed my bag and was off to Minden, Germany: a quaint and quiet town in the northeastern part of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. It lies on the River Weser, north of the Porta Westfalica gap between the ridges of the Weser Hills and Wiehen Hills. While the town center lies 5 kilometers (3 miles) to the north, on a plateau on the western side of the river, the formation of the town was strongly influenced by the Prussian fortress of Minden, whose now-demolished fortifications have been turned into a green belt around the town center.

Minden is also headquarters to one of our Innovation Award finalists, WAGO. Founded in 1951, WAGO is the global leader of spring pressure electrical interconnection and automation solutions. For more than 60 years, WAGO has developed and produced innovative products for power, transportation, process, industrial, and building automation markets.

Their headquarters’ sophisticated layout offers presentation and workshop spaces for groups of up to 400 participants. In fact, the entire building offers an integrated concept that emphasizes sustainability: state-of-the-art WAGO technology provides intelligent climate control, lighting and cooling. Geothermal probes and heat pumps ensure energy efficiency and resource conservation. From the wet waste disposal system to biodegradable coffee cups, WAGO’s emphasis is on resource efficiency. Needless to say, my initial hesitance about Minden was immediately replaced with awe and inspiration.

Citrix cloud solutions allow WAGO to scale quickly, maintain security, and remain agile as they keep up with the company’s international goals. “WAGO is the backbone of the smart, connected world,” Mareen Vassholz, the company’s Corporate Strategy & Digital Transformation Officer, told us. Not only must WAGO empower these connections, they are also driven to empower people. Citrix cloud solutions are helping them do just that. According to David Kreft, Head of the IT Service Center, “WAGO is in Minden, not Munich, not Berlin. We have to be attractive to new talent. We have to make employees comfortable. With Citrix, we can provide a flexible workplace.” WAGO also recognizes that as the world changes, customer behavior is rapidly changing too, so the technology has to change with it. For WAGO, “the cloud is the future.”

Ultimately, a simple childhood lesson became abundantly clear to me. Never judge a book by its cover. I arrived in Minden with assumptions about this quiet little town’s ability to compete on a global scale. What I quickly learned is that Minden, with WAGO at its center, is leading the world in innovation, digital transformation, sustainability and enterprise agility. But don’t just take my word for it. Check out their full story for yourself!

Be sure to check out the posts on our other  2018 Innovation Award finalists — Beazley and Health Choice Networks — and get ready to vote next week!