Douglas Hickey was sworn in as the U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Finland on April 6, 2022. Previously, Ambassador Hickey served as the Managing Director of Hickey Gryphon QOF. He has more than 30 years of operational experience holding senior-level positions in the telecom, internet, and technology industries.
Ambassador Hickey, how has it been to start as the U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Finland at somewhat unusual times; post-covid, war in Ukraine and in the middle of NATO negotiations?
– Well first off, let me say hello to SAM’s members. I look forward to the opportunity to meet you all in the coming months during my travels throughout Finland. My family and I have enjoyed Finland’s beautiful summer and have taken part in some of the great activities since moving here, including sailing, berry picking, trying out korvapuusti at the various cafes in Helsinki, and most importantly of all, enjoying a proper Finnish sauna. I have been told to take advantage of the great weather while I can though because November is coming!
Now, to answer the question, it has been a great privilege to serve as the United States Ambassador to Finland during such an important and historic time in our bilateral relationship. What we have seen in these last few months, through the various high-level visits from U.S. officials to joint security exercises and ship visits, is that our bilateral relationship is more solid and stronger than ever. The United States and Finland share a long history and close partnership based on a commitment to democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. Russia’s brutal attack on Ukraine has only drawn the United States and Finland even closer in our commitment to upholding these shared values.
The U.S. Senate’s overwhelming vote in favor of Finland and Sweden’s accession to NATO membership sends an important signal of the sustained, bipartisan U.S. commitment to NATO and our bilateral relationship with Finland, ensuring our Alliance is prepared to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow. I look forward to continuing to deepen our bilateral ties, not just in matters of security cooperation, but in advancing technology and innovation, highlighting shared Arctic priorities, and promoting higher education and people-to-people exchanges among other areas of cooperation.
What are the priorities for U.S. diplomacy in Finland over the next 4 years?
– Our bilateral relationship is built on a foundation of shared values. In addition to continuing to strengthen security cooperation, including supporting Finland’s NATO membership, we will continue to work together on common issues such as promoting trade and innovation between our two countries, addressing and taking steps to mitigate climate change, increasing preparedness to respond to future global health challenges, countering the threat of terrorism, and promoting a more secure and prosperous future for both our nations.
We also look forward to strengthening our longstanding cooperation with Finland in the Arctic in the areas of education, culture, and the environment to continue to ensure a secure and peaceful Arctic region.
Finally, we hope to continue to strengthen our people-to-people ties in the areas of economic growth, education and academic exchanges, and scientific and technological innovation.
Many international companies are now looking to the United States for growth. What type of skills do Finnish companies need in order to succeed there?
– I would say that Finnish companies are already doing quite well in the U.S. market, but of course, we are always looking at opportunities to continue to strengthen transatlantic trade and innovation between Finland and the United States. Finland’s achievements in 5G and 6G quantum technology, artificial intelligence, and ultra-speed computing, as well as a commitment to sustainable business practices, are all great selling points for U.S. investors. During my time here, I plan to continue to facilitate connections between U.S. and Finnish companies to explore opportunities for collaboration and to advance investment and economic growth between our two countries.
What do you think Finland could learn from the United States? And what can the United States learn from Finland?
– One thing Americans can learn from Finland is the Finnish spirit of sisu, the quiet determination and perseverance that has led Finland to become a leading pillar of democracy and governance around the world. I also value Finns’ unique relationship with nature. I am sure there are many more examples, but those are a few things that immediately come to mind.
From the United States, there are many great things to highlight. I think one thing that makes us unique as a country is the strength of our diversity. The diversity of landscapes, cultures, languages, and traditions found in the United States is truly unique. And, of course, coming from a business background, I would also highlight the entrepreneurial spirt of the United States. Entrepreneurship is engrained in America’s DNA, and that same entrepreneurial spirit is what has fostered so many unique endeavors that have changed the way we connect, live, and work. I think this is one area where we can continue to learn from one another.
Is there a role for a grassroot organizations, such as the Finnish-America society (SAM), in supporting diplomacy, Ambassador Hickey?
– Absolutely. Building linkages at the grassroots level and strengthening people-to-people ties is fundamental to diplomacy and the work we do as the U.S. Embassy to strengthen our bilateral relationship. SAM is one example of the many organizations and individuals in the United States and Finland working to strengthen U.S.-Finnish relations. The U.S. Embassy in Finland is lucky to have such passionate local partners interested in deepening the friendship and partnership between our two countries. I welcome opportunities for future collaboration. Thank you for your commitment to advancing people-to-people connections and mutual understanding between Finland and the United States!