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Students in practice- Liesbeth van Walsum

Students in Practice- Liesbeth van Walsum

Rebel was founded in 2002 and operates within five markets: area development, transport, sustainability, care and the social sector. Liesbeth’s team focuses on real estate and area development. We interviewed her to get to know more about Rebel, her work there and what a typical day at the office looks like at the Rebel headquarters.

How did you get in contact with Rebel?

“It was a coincidence, really! I had already started graduating and just finished my P2 presentation. I hadn’t planned on graduating at a company because combining writing your thesis with an internship can be quite difficult. Then I was cc’d in an email from my graduation supervisor Erwin Heurkens. He had gotten in touch with someone he knew from back in the days. This man worked at Rebel and asked Erwin if he knew anyone to join the Rebel team. They were – and still are – growing quite fast. I had never heard of the company, but I became very enthusiastic and before I knew it, a meeting was planned. My graduation subject matched Rebel’s expertise very well, so I changed my plans!”

What does a random day in the week look like at Rebel?

“It’s quite difficult to describe one ‘standard’ day. I don’t just work on my thesis there, but also work as a full member of the team two days a week. In practice, it’s either a full day of working or a full day of thesis writing. A random day looks as follows:

07:35     I take the train from Delft – where I still live – to Rotterdam.

08:00    Arrival at Rotterdam Blaak, I make my way to the office – a five minute walk from the station.

08:10    At the office! I find myself a spot to work for the day. There are flex spaces everywhere, so some floors are more suited for working in silence and others are more suited for meetings. I’m usually quite early, so I take my time to get a coffee and truly wake up.

08:30     I start by checking my emails: has anything happened overnight?

09:00     I prepare a meeting, which broadly means that I read the necessary documents and formulate questions for my colleagues.

11:00     With two senior colleagues and one fellow junior colleague, I have a mobility meeting. We work on several workprojects and always try to integrate the knowledge of the different Rebel-teams. For this specific tender, we combine input from the real estate and mobility team. We look at traffic standards, important or problematic junctions and public transport in combination with attractive area development. For this project, we implement the STOMP method: a method whereby access by foot, bike and public transport is prioritized over parking places and car accessibility.

12:00    I make my way to the top floor of our building for lunch. All Rebels have lunch together, which makes it a nice opportunity to get to know colleagues that I do not work with. On average, about 70 people are present at the office on a daily basis. But because of the consultancy Rebel offers, many people are on the road a lot.

12:30     I continue working on the mobility vision at my desk.

19:00     A bit later than planned, I email my colleagues my share of the elaborated vision, after which I take the train back home to Delft.

00:00     My collegue emails me the definitive version.

Everyone at Rebel works very hard, deadlines are part of the job. But the teams also value quality time together. Every Friday, we have a VrijMiBo (Friday afternoon drinks) at the White House just accros the square of the Rebel office.

On a graduation day, I don’t always go to the office. I can also work at home or at the TU for example. But it’s nice to be able to go in full focus at the office. Currently, about six other graduate interns are working at Rebel. It’s very nice to be able to talk with them about the sometimes challenging graduation process. A few weeks ago, we got a request from the company to organise a Kitchentalk. These Kitchentalks are intended for knowledge sharing and keeping each other up to date: you can present an interesting project you’re working on, or ask for input when you’re dealing with a problem. These take place about once a month and the atmosphere is very informal. With all the graduates, we will soon present our research objectives and outcomes to all curious and interested Rebels.”

What do you like most about the company?

“It’s a very young company, founded in 2002, so the founders were about my age when they started. The average age right now is about 30, so quite youthful! Also, what we do is very interesting I think. Its financial-strategic advice work, but with the intention to do something good for society. Rebel was founded to ‘make the world a better place’: the idealistic undertone is still here, which I like a lot. Also, everyone is super enthusiastic about their work and really likes their job. There is attention for knowledge sharing and learning from each other. What is best for the project? Colleagues from other teams are very often involved and there’s no hierarchy: as a junior, you’re taken just as seriously as the seniors.”

What  are your plans for the future?

“Working for Rebel! In August, I will start working there full time and hopefully I’ll find a place to live in Rotterdam as well.”

What  advice do you have for future graduates?

“I would definitely advise everyone to graduate at a company, especially if you haven’t done an internship yet. Combining graduation with work is very nice! You may risk taking a bit longer to finish your thesis, but I found it very valuable to take that extra time: I’ve learned so much! Get the most out of your graduation experience I would say, those few months really don’t matter.”

Working life after MBE: Sarah Heemskerk

Sarah Heemskerk
Sarah HeemskerkProject Manager at abcnova
Sarah Heemskerk graduated from MBE in 2017. During her years at the faculty, she was an active BOSS member and functioned within the 24th BOSS board. In her graduation research, she focused on Design & Construction Management, with a focus on leadership styles of project managers. After finishing her Master, Sarah started working as a project manager at abcnova. She focuses on both social and commercial real estate there. We interviewed her to get more insight into her day-to-day working life and how she looks back on MBE and BOSS.

Working life after MBE: Sarah Heemskerk

How did you experience the master track of MBE?

I experienced MBE as a very informative and fun Master track. The different ways of working throughout the track have appealed to me very much. In particular, working in groups has taught me a lot. Also, I find the small distance between students and professors very positive.

You spent quite some time as an active member and board member of BOSS. What were the most important things you learned during your time at BOSS? And what was your favorite moment/event?

During my Master, I have indeed been closely involved with BOSS. In addition to organising a large-scale event and leading a committee, I consider the development of a large network in the real estate world to be the most important development. My favorite event was the study trip to Miami and Havana that I have organised.

What took place after you gratuated? How did you career develop?

After my graduation, I travelled for two months first. I’m still very happy I did that, because during work, it’s difficult to get such a long period of time off. After my journey, I came back to abcnova, where I had previously done my graduation internship.

abcnova

abcnova is a leading project- and consultancy firm for the built environment. We translate the plans and ambitions of our clients to financially feasible and sustainable solutions. We provide a grip on processes and projects and thereby achieve concrete and nice results. We do this through project and process management, through smart and progressive advice and by excelling in special expertise. This includes sustainability and earthquake-resistant construction. We are the best partner in real estate and area development in terms of know-how and hands-on.

You worked as a project manager at abcnova for one and a half year now. What has been your experience so far? What was your favorite project you got to work on and why?

During my time at abcnova I learned a lot. During my internship I already had the opportunity to participate in projects and it became clear that you actually learn the most in practice. At abcnova I get the chance to do many different types of projects. For example, I have already been involved in the development of various primary schools, but also in a major commercial renovation project in which 107 apartments are being realised in a national monument. In addition, I have contributed to the writing of various housing advices. I find it difficult to pinpoint a favorite project, I am mainly happy that I can develop in a broad sense to find out which direction I ultimately want to go.

What are you currently working on/what will you be working on in the future?

I am currently working on various projects:

  • The renovation of a primary school in Broek in Waterland. We are currently looking for a construction team partner with whom we will further develop the current Final Design into a specification. That means that I am speaking with various contractors to choose a suitable partner.
  • The renovation of a monumental building into rental apartments in Warmond. The Realisation phase of this project is about to start, with asbestos remediation taking place first. At the moment, my work in this project mainly consists of consulting with the contractor and installer.
  • The preparation of housing advice for a commercial organisation in Renswoude. Because of a growing number of employees, a lot of pressure has been put on the number of workplaces at the headquarters of this organisation. In addition, the installations are very outdated and do not meet the requirements of the growing number of employees. We are currently drawing up the frameworks for the project, which serve as the basis for a decision document for managing board. For this, we prepare a report based on consultations with the client, the architect and the installation consultant.

What advice would you give yourself – with the knowledge and experience you have obtained over the last years – if you were to graduate now?

I would advise you to always keep an eye on your development. During work it is easy to lose yourself in projects, but keep thinking about what you want to achieve. Which projects do you want to do and what can you learn from? That way you can always steer in the direction that you want to go.

Cheese Sandwich Housing

Gerard van Bortel
Gerard van BortelAssistant Professor Housing Management
Management in the Built Environment, Faculty of Architecture, TU Delft
g.a.vanbortel@tudelft.nl

Cheese Sandwich Housing

’15 miljoen mensen op dat kleine stukje aarde. Die schrijf je niet de wetten voor. Die moeten niet het keurslijf in. Die laat je in hun waarde’* ’15 million people on that small piece of earth. Do not patronize them. Do not straitjacket them. Respect them.’

*Song text by Fluitsma and Van Tijn, translation by author

In 1996 singer songwriter Guus Meeuwis, had one of his greatest hits with the song ’15 million people’. The song recalls the particularities of ‘the Dutch’. Apart from the reference to our questionable inclination to prefer cheese sandwiches for lunch, the song proudly presents the Dutch as an informal and liberal people, an open and tolerant nation, a country of individualists, with 1.000 different opinions, a people that you cannot put into a straitjacket, a people averse of patronizing governments and institutions.

That all sounds positive, but is it true? Does, for example, the way we develop and manage our built environment reflect this individualism and freedom of spirit? Or are our dwellings, our homes, the bricks-and-mortar equivalent of a cheese sandwich? I’m afraid an honest answer to that question might be painful.

In the Netherlands we often take a formal, institutional, approach in developing and managing the built environment, including housing. Developments are often market-led or government-led, with limited active resident participation. The irony is that many professionals working for these market and government institutions are TU Delft Alumni.

Tenants and home-owners are often given, or are contented with, the role of passive consumers. The way we live is hugely dependent on policy-makers, politicians, planners and project developers. So maybe Dutch residents, tenants and homeowner alike, are being patronized and put into a straightjacket.

Can we make the way we develop and manage our built environment more resemble Guus Meeuwis’ song? Can we put citizens in a more central position: less dominated by systems and more connected with the lifeworld, providing more support for collaborative resident-led initiatives, more room for self-organised housing and co-production?

When Guus Meeuwis had his hit back in 1996, the Netherlands counted 15 million people, now we are with almost 17 million. We have a housing shortage of around 250.000 homes and we need to build one million additional homes by 2030 to address future housing needs. House prices are going through the roof. Land scarcity and increasing construction costs are seen as important factors driving up these prices. It is a broadly supported notion that the construction sector needs to innovate. Prefabrication, modularity, digitisation, mass-customisation. tiny homes, micro-apartments are widely seen as possible solutions. But without a more powerful role for residents as co-producers we might create our future problems: efficiently produced but soul-less housing.

Through research and education TU Delft’s Architecture and the Built Environment Faculty can contribute to meeting the challenge of providing sufficient numbers of homes that are not only efficiently produced but also socially and environmentally sustainable, resilient and affordable.

At MBE we educate and train the future ‘makers and shakers’ in the build environment. So, the million-dollar question for MBE-students and alumni: are you going to contribute to building one million drab ‘cheese sandwich’ homes or are you up to the challenge to change the way housing is delivered and managed. We need innovative solutions empowering residents, providing more room for entrepreneurial free-thinking spirits, and supporting tenants and homeowners that refuse to be put into a straitjacket and be patronized by governments and institutions.

How and what: Real estate and the Dutch National Police

Lara Tjoa Li Ling
Lara Tjoa Li Ling Junior real estate manager for the Dutch National Police
Lara graduated in July 2018 in the interdisciplinary Health@BK lab. Her thesis about a real estate concept that facilitates integrated short-term care was even awarded a 10!

During her study time, she was also a board member of SHS Delft, a foundation that transforms vacant buildings into temporary student housing. At the end of 2018, she started working as a junior real estate manager for the Dutch National Police.

In this article, she shares what she does and what role real estate plays for the Dutch National Police.

How and what: Real estate and the Dutch National Police

Exploring career opportunities? Looking for something else than the ‘known’ consulting and project
development jobs? You might want to consider working at the Dutch National Police!

What types of real estate does the National Police deal with? How is their real estate department organised?

In 2012, the Dutch National Police started the biggest public reorganisation of the Netherlands.
Approximately 65.000 employees from 26 different forces were reorganised into one centrally-led
organisation.

From a real estate perspective, this centralisation resulted in an urgent need to re-align the real estate
portfolio to the new way of working. To give an idea of what the real estate portfolio (approximately 1,6
million square meters GFA) consists of police stations, jails, training centres, gun ranges, offices for supporting
functions, offices for the criminal investigation department and forensic investigation unit, garages,
riding schools, police academy buildings, control rooms and a variety of secret locations for
surveillance. The Dutch National Police has a real estate department that covers the full range of real
estate related aspects: project management, asset management, information management,
programming (focused on creating and monitoring the planning, capacity and budget), technical
maintenance and policy implementation and development. So whatever holds your interest, the police
has many aspects that could be the right fit for you.

For me, this broad scope is one of the advantages of working at the real estate department of the
police because I can learn from every aspect. At this moment, the whole force has been rehoused for
the short term. The focus currently lies on the implementation of a future-proof portfolio, together with
the target set by the government to save €76,5 million on the exploitation costs by 2025.
In order to achieve these goals, a lot is happening. To give a few examples: around 75 real estate
projects (from small renovations to large new builds) are executed this year, we are developing a
roadmap to sustainability and our department is creating integrated real estate concepts.

What do you do on a daily basis?

I have to admit that the National Police only caught my attention when one of my MBE teachers asked
if I would be interested in working there. I never considered that option before, but when I learned
more about the organization and their real estate challenges, I got more and more excited. Not only
about the complexity of the real estate challenge in terms of the size, but also for the societal impact,
political environment, the focus on the users and organizational challenges. I was looking for a job in
this type of environment. You really get the chance here to not only work on great projects but also
the chance to coordinate them. Besides this, I also wanted a job which would allow me to think about
policy and strategic plans. Therefore the police proved to be the right fit for me!

I currently work on two main projects: the development of a real estate concept for police training
centres and sustainability. For the training centres, a future proof real estate concept needs to be
developed that will provide a good training environment for the 40.000 colleagues who are required to
train there every year. I am responsible for gathering the right input through interviews and sessions,
and for creating a concept that can accommodate the current organizational needs as well as those in
ten years’ time.

For the sustainability project, I work in a team which is in charge of the development of frameworks and
plans that determine how to ensure that the real estate portfolio becomes sustainable. My
responsibility is the development of a roadmap that shows the necessary steps to be taken to create
an energy neutral portfolio in 2050.

Huge responsibility and an even greater challenge. This roadmap will form the basis for the
sustainability implementation. Within the sustainability project, I was also appointed as the project leader for the implementation plan
of solar panels. This means that I am structuring and coordinating the development of the plan
(including the market strategy), and have to ensure that a well-thought out plan is presented to the
management teams and board.

Do you have any tips for current MBE students?

If you like a challenge and have a clear vision of how to make real estate future proof, working at the
police might be a great option for you. In your work, you can focus on many different real estate
perspectives and you will work in a complex environment, with many (unique) stakeholders and a
user-focused view on real estate.

Love to work in a commercially driven company? Then this might not be a great fit for you. Also, take
into consideration that you will be working in a politically sensitive environment and this has to suit
you.

From experience, I know that many students are in doubt about which topic they should choose for
their thesis. My tip would be to choose the topic you are most interested in at that moment. My
graduation focused on the healthcare sector, which wasn’t necessarily the sector I wanted to work in.
Now I see that the real estate concept that I developed for my graduation provides me with valuable
experience which I can use today when developing a concept for police training centres. So don’t be
afraid to try something new.

If you are interested in doing your graduation at the National police, please contact me and I’m sure
we will find a nice topic that fits your interests!