What comes to mind when you think of Kiel? The sea, of course. The Kieler Förde inlet stretches for several kilometres into the heart of Schleswig-Holstein’s capital—home to luxurious cruise ships, majestic sailing boats, 250,000 inhabitants and Bechtle’s northernmost system house.
The wind is tinged with the taste of salt as it whips around, blowing away the cobwebs. With their vision, openness and propensity for inclement weather, cities by the sea have a special kind of draw. In Germany’s most northerly city, the sea sets the tone—from the port with its freight, ferry and cruise terminals to the Kiellinie promenade and gantry cranes that dot the skyline around the shipyards that are some of the largest in Europe. The Gorch Fock tall ship calls Kiel its home as does the Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research and the only state parliament building with a sea view. Between them all herring gulls swoop, grey seals splash about and many a sailing boat bob around. After all, Kiel is a bit of a sailing hotspot. Kiel Week—a global sailing festival—attracts some 900,000 visitors a year to the city. It’s clear to all who visit it’s been christened the Sailing City for a good reason.
Away from the water, Kiel is a laid-back and easy-to-manage city. It doesn’t take long to get from one place to another and almost every trip can be made by foot or bike. Making the city centre very easily accessible, Kiel is home to 13 cycling routes, the best of which (number 10) follows the path of a former freight railway line and allows people to access all central sites, safe from cars and traffic jams and a climate-friendly manner. One thing that typifies any visit this far north is the Baltic Sea breeze, laced with salt. No matter if you’re browsing the city centre boutiques, exploring the Alter Markt, strolling along Dänische Straße, soaking up knowledge at the Christian Albrecht University or enjoying a break at a cosy café on Holtenauerstraße, you’re never far from the water. When you finish work for the day, why not hop on a ferry and head out to one of the nearby beaches or enjoy one of the beach bars. The city may not be blessed with picturesque timber-frame houses, but who cares when you have the sea right on your doorstep?
German Sustainability Prize 2021.
When the sea is such an integral part of your city, sustainability and ocean protection is very high on the agenda. Kiel has dedicated itself to climate protection since 1996, becoming the first German city to declare a climate emergency and setting itself the target of becoming climate neutral by 2050. In 2021, it beat Stuttgart and Munich to win the German Sustainability Prize thanks to its large number of ambitious projects aimed at climate protection, resource conservation and social justice. One example is the K.I.E.L Küstenkraftwerk, which has been in operation since 2020, and is Europe’s most cutting edge gas-powered thermal power station delivering climate-friendly district heating to 70,000 households while the “Blue Port” project is designed at making the port an ecological pioneer in Europe.
Today, cruise ships already benefit from shore-to-ship power that keeps noise emissions and air pollution to a minimum. Kiel is also the first German city to link up with the Zero Waste Europe network and has also launched a project to combat the use of single-use plastics. Despite the tricky financial situation, Kiel has also become a home for refugees, training young people and offering those who dropped out of school an opportunity to grow with its Talentschmiede initiative.
Training for the future.
Bechtle Kiel—which celebrated its 20th anniversary in November—is also invested in nurturing talent, relying on the outstanding quality of training, its own training supervisor as well as a relaxed Nordic-style familial atmosphere. And it seems to be paying off. Schleswig-Holstein’s best IT specialist for system integration vocational trainee has twice come from Bechtle Kiel and Tim Kann and Fabian Gerhart are still part of the team today. “Vocational training is an essential investment in the future. It’s the only way to actively combat the shortage of skilled workers and remain successful long into the future,” says Olaf Knorr, Managing Director, Bechtle Kiel and Hamburg, who was the very first employee when the site opened back in 2002.
The second through the door was Rainer Thomsen who is now at the helm of the local system house and enjoying great success. Bechtle Kiel has continued on an upward trajectory over the past few years and is now home to 60 staff. It has long-since established itself as as an able service provider and serves as a reliable project, solutions and operations partner for its customers, the vast majority of which are active in industry and the public sector. “A whole raft of renowned customers trust in our IT expertise particularly when it comes to Microsoft and the cloud. Together with Bechtle in Hamburg and Bremen, we are building an unbeatable team,” explains Rainer Thomsen.
Did you know that the happiest people in Germany live in Schleswig-Holstein? The northernmost federal state has held the title for many years so what are you waiting for? Weigh anchor and set course for Kiel!
Picture: © Kristina Steigüber
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