How and what: Real estate and the Dutch National Police

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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

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

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!