NAME: Kajsa Ollongren
COUNTRY: The Netherlands
ACTION/SECTOR: Politics, public sector
POSITION: Deputy Mayor of Amsterdam, Alderman Economic Affairs, Arts and Cultur
ORGANIZATION: City Council Amsterdam
My Background and Career
I am deputy mayor of Amsterdam and alderman for Economic Affairs and Arts and Culture. I studied history in Amsterdam. After my MBA study in France, I did not quite know, which side to go on. So I followed the special courses at Clingendael in international affairs. I was a civil servant for 20 years in The Hague at different ministries, because I myself like to offer social contributions for the public cause, near to politics. I was secretary general of the ministry of General Affairs during 2 cabinets, and supported the ministers Balkenende and Rutte.
For a long time, I am member of the Democrats Party D’66. In 2003, I was eligible at no 5 of the election list. A great experience. However the results of the election were the worst ever for D’66. So I have not become a member of the parliament. By the way, I should have to stop my work as public officer, if I was elected. You cannot combine the two. The origin of the two functions are different: public officers have an executive and advisory role, a member of parliament decides and controls the policies of the government.
In 2014 I got the chance to become alderman of the city council in Amsterdam. So in a ruling role myself. Although you are the number 1 of the ministry as secretary general, you work under the responsibility of a minister, so behind the curtains. As alderman I am responsible myself, in the spotlights of the public debates. I can decide on issues and take care of fulfilling them. So even more possibilities to realize important issues.
I love content and I am driven by public interest. One of my economic efforts is the Startup Action program in Amsterdam. Organizing facilities for national and international start ups with a growth perspective, who want to contribute their solutions to 4 social items as: Urban Mobility, Vibrant City, Circular Economy en Health City. Facts of the action program: business housing, support, mentoring, training and events in a network and communication with organizations and companies, financers and property owners.
Economic Affairs has mainly to do with creating jobs/work, in my view, also for people with a distance to the labor market. For instance: I like to organize quicker entrance to education and work for refugees, who are allowed to stay here. They don’t want to be dependant from social benefits.
In my portfolio Arts and Culture are even important.
I don’t want to sit at the ivory tower of the City Hall all the time, me and my staff like to solve problems together with people.
I never had a sort of ‘dot’ at the horizon mood. So not a vertical blueprint of steps to take. That works quite well for me. At my last positions, I wanted to deliver perfect work, realizing a lot, also learning new things and above that, enjoy a little.
There are new elections, every 4 years, where everything can happen. I grab the chances, that come around.
I have ambitions with respect to content in the policy of Amsterdam. That are matters I like to realize.
Hints & Tips
It looks as if more men than women are active in politics, as well as in the administrative tops as in government. That is a pity.
There are enough women active in this field, with great capacities; they only must dare to persevere in moving up.
Tip: know what you want, but stay flexible in the same time, dare to do some experiments. You really cannot know in advance, if something fits you well. You must dare to taking risks once in a while. If you don’t take risks, you will never figure out your strengths.