Kirsikka Lehto-Asikainen

The Ambassador of Finland to Israel, Kirsikka Lehto-Asikainen, is an alumna of the School of Business. As a student, she set her sights on becoming a citizen of the world and she has stayed the course ever since. She has held diverse international positions in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland and at various Finnish embassies.
Kirsikka Lehto-Asikainen
Photo: Mallimaailma

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your career path.

I am 48, and hold a Master of Science (Economics and Business Administration) degree from the former Helsinki School of Economics, as well as a master’s degree in international relations from Panthéon-Sorbonne University in Paris (ESCP). I have also completed an international degree programme at ENA, École National d’Administration in France. 

I have served as a diplomat in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland since 1998. Before that, I worked with marketing communications at Ericsson for a few years. I have always been drawn to international affairs, and I have had the chance to work in various roles in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and abroad, working with security and defence policy, affairs related to Europe, the Middle East and North Africa and other parts of Africa, as well as with development cooperation and export promotion.

During my career, I have worked at the embassies of Finland in Paris, France and in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and as of April this year, I have served as Ambassador of Finland to Israel in Tel Aviv.

How did you end up studying your field of choice?

Economics and business administration seemed like a field of study suited for a wide range of careers, and I had always been interested in both international affairs and languages. At the School of Economics, I studied international business, economic geography, and languages.

What is your best memory from your student years?

Well, the first thing that comes to mind is my husband, who was also a student at the Helsinki School of Economics. Other things to remember are good friends and many, many parties. In addition, my student exchange year at a business school in Paris was a wonderful experience. Paris is like my second home: I loved studying in French, making friends, understanding the French way of thinking, and the whole way of life.

What is the most valuable thing you learned at university which has helped you in your professional life?

There are so many of them, but to name a few: learning an analytic way of thinking, learning presentation and public speaking skills as well as languages, and also internationality, which is at the core of operations at the School of Business.

Tell us something surprising about yourself.

I am crazy about horses. I have done horseback riding my whole life, and whenever I am abroad, one of the first things I look for is a riding stables. I also do scuba diving, a hobby I started in Tanzania. I like to dive in tropical waters that are full of beautiful things to look at, like fish and corals.

What should everyone experience once in their lifetime?

Visiting a clay hut in Africa and dining at a first-class restaurant in Paris. I find it very enriching to experience all sides of life.

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