“I have been an expat too”-Vice Mayor Monique List-de Roos

The city municipal council has been in office for a year now. So to mark the anniversary of the new city council we interview Vice Mayor Monique List de Roos.

 On a rare sunny day this spring we meet Monique List-de Roos in her office. With a bright cheerful smile and with an equally bright scarf around her neck, she greets us when we walk into her office along with her spokeswoman.

This mother of three adult children and a second-time Wethouder not only has a degree in Public Administration but also is an alumnus of TIAS business school. The new city council has been in office for one year now. So Eindhoven News decided to interview Monique List – de Roos to ascertain the city’s progress.

Eindhoven’s Wethouder (Vice Mayor) List-de Roos is responsible for:

  • Inner city economy and Inner city coordination
  • City marketing
  • Accessibility and mobility
  • Culture and design
  • Permits
  • Coordination of regional cooperation.

Quickly, we introduce and settle into the business. List-de Roos comes across as a pleasant and charmingly resolute person. She has an amicable yet a compelling presence that one hesitates to waste even a moment of the time that she has offered. Indeed we want our administrators to be efficient, don’t we? The interview happens at the time when the European election results are declared and I decide to cash in on that upbeat mood in camp List. So here goes the dialogue…

Beena Arunraj, Monique List-de Roos, Irene Martens.
1. Eindhoven News: Your party (VVD) has held ground or a bit more with 4 seats in the latest European elections. What are your thoughts at this juncture?

List-de Roos: I am obviously happy about the results.

Our party did well, even though I of course always wish we would have even more seats… But I am relieved that extreme parties either left or right have been outwitted. On the political side, I see this as a stable outcome. The pro-Europe parties have performed well in the election and being pro Europe myself, I am happy with that. The Election results reflect a more or less an elimination for some extreme parties.

2. What inspired you to choose a career in politics?

I studied public affairs which is a combination of economics, law and Sociology so looks like I was already interested in that domain. Moreover, I was part of the Student Council for three years at the University of Twente in Enschede. So I guess, it has been within me all the time to be part of something large especially a part of something where decisions could be made. I have always been interested in politics because politics is about the society we live in and it is also about balancing the different views put across by various people and trying to get an amicable collective decision. I have previously worked in private companies but I feel public administration is my home turf.

3. What were your experiences as an expat in England? What did you learn?

I lived not only in England but also in Italy and in Taiwan. I have worked abroad but have been an expat spouse too. When you live abroad, you are away from your social ecosystem. You are more vulnerable and more independent. I would say my experience was really “living abroad” because those days there were hardly any emails, VOIP, unlike today. So you feel really away! And I learned to be more self-reliant in my case as you have to create your own happy social environment.

4. What is the gap between the government (city council) and the international residents here? If so, how do you intend to close the gap?

The Expat Center caters to most needs of the expats and Internationals. Of late, as the municipality, we have become more international in our communication on our website. We are also targeting to make more information available in English and even to those who have problems in understanding language. We are proud of our international atmosphere and it is on our cards to share information in English as well.

Apart from providing more information in English, we as a municipality also focus on the use of ‘easy Dutch’. That means we want to make sure our information is understandable for all, even for those who have language difficulties. 

Irene Martens, our director punctuated our dialogue to brief List de Roos about the role of Eindhoven News. Eindhoven News bridges the gap between the city and the internationals in many ways such as news, views, events, collaboration.

5. 7 years ago you said that Eindhoven must outgrow from the Calimero effect. What are your thoughts on Eindhoven in that aspect?

To a large extent, yes. Eindhoven is a lot more different than it was 7 years ago. It is more international, a lot more busy, more lively and more happening. With the economic boom, it is a buzzing city now. It is more of a city now as opposed to the earlier image of a “village”. Thanks to the events, cultural activities and the diverse people. I am also happy that we could get the shops opened on Sundays in my last term as Wethouder which is crucial when you aim to be a city, especially of international caliber.

6. What is the one initiative that is close to your heart (among your initiatives for the city or other) and why?

The buoyant, vibrant atmosphere during Dutch Design Week gives me a positive vibe. The diversity of the visitors is great…when I say diverse, it is diversity in age, profession, nationality, and interests. Of course not to mention the different exhibits. But if you ask me, what am I proud of? Then I have to say we have launched an initiative for a National design museum. It is only fair that Eindhoven home to Dutch Design Week should be home to the National Design Museum for the future. Where one can experience the future of design with a link to technology. We have made a proposal to the national government and hope to hear in the coming months.

With regard to another part of my portfolio, mobility, I am proud that we invest a lot on smart mobility. And that includes bicycle paths, smart buses, trains especially fast trains like the direct one to Dusseldorf. In addition, we are concentrating on enlivening the nightlife as well.

7. If you are given a free hand to change something in Eindhoven then what would you change and why?

(Gazing out through the windows List wonders aloud) I would like to make the city greener…Don’t you think so? (she retorts back). I would also appreciate more cultural initiatives especially international ones and more importantly, I would like to make the present initiatives and events even more visible.

8. Who is your role model in politics/life?

I do not have role models. I am not a feminist but I am proud of women aiming at great roles or woman visionaries. For example, but I have great admiration for Theresa May for her persistence. In my opinions, she had the most difficult job in the whole of Europe in present times and was not a job that had enough chances to foster a success…not at all. I may not agree with her decisions or opinion and neither is she my role model but her persistence and loyalty or commitment to the cause of finding a balance and compromise amidst the chaos are what I admire the most. 

9. What do you want to tell little girls about aspiring for a career in politics?

First, I think it is important that girls/women are independent and build a career for themselves. I have to caution that it is an unpredictable life in politics but if your heart lies in making your city/country flourish then a career in politics is a good option.

10. And any advice to women struggling to break through the glass ceiling?

I don’t even know if that exists, (chuckles)…In a way, even if, there was one, just ignore that and keep aspiring for your goals. Having children and balancing your life can only broaden your experience. Women often feel guilty about balancing work and family, however, I feel that being able to balance a family and work can only enhance our abilities. So it is essential to keep things in perspective and find the right balance.

11. What do you want to do if you get more time? Or maybe after you retire? (I grinningly add that is not going to happen in the near future).

List-de Roos laughs, you never know, in politics, you never know! I have 2 things on my mind, though.  One day when I retire I would like to perhaps live abroad to experience different cultures. I love traveling! Passionate about education I am, so I would also like to spend time teaching sociology.

For Eindhoven News: Beena Arunraj.

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