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!