News Article | Jun 13, 2023 | 15:02
In this series, we interview the Honorary Consul of the Dutch Honorary Consulate in Finland. This time, we interviewed Jean-Eric Rusk. He represents the Netherlands in the Åland Islands.
You have served as Honorary Consul (=HC) of the Netherlands for over 35 years since the late 80’s. How did you become an HC?
When former head coach Edgar Ericsson retired, he contacted me and asked if I would be interested in taking over the Åland Islands head coaching job. It was a great honor and certainly an interest. Edgar recommended me as the ambassador’s successor, and as it happened, I was appointed Honorary Consul of the Netherlands.
Edgar Erickson – the son of former shipyard owner Gustav Erickson – married a Dutch woman. HCs usually have some connection with the Netherlands.
Eric-Jan, what is your connection to the Netherlands?
My mother is from Holland. She moved from Holland to Finland to work as a secretary at the Dutch Embassy in Helsinki. She met her Finnish husband there. Her name is Allegonda Black. After her marriage, he changed her name to Gun Rusk. They then moved to Orlando Island, where they settled and started a family. And that’s where I was born and raised.
As a graduate student, I lived in the Netherlands for a year on a scholarship course called European Integration. That year I lived with Dutch students in Amsterdam North and it was a great way to improve my Dutch.
how was your career? where did you work?
When I became HC in the Netherlands, I had just joined Orlanz Sparbank, which then went through a merger to become Nordea Bank. I have worked there as a branch manager for over 30 years. I specialized in corporate finance.
A few years ago, I was asked to join the Orlando Chamber of Commerce and become its President. The plan was to continue this for a few years before starting my own business. And it worked. Starting in early 2023, I will quit my job at the Chamber of Commerce to start my own consulting firm..
That sounds interesting. What exactly do you do at your consulting firm?
Most of my projects are related to helping companies find successors. During my time at the bank and later at the Chamber of Commerce, I found that finding successors was often a challenge for companies. I will help you with that process.
In addition, I also give lectures and lectures for chambers of commerce and industry as a lecturer.
In the future, I would like to be involved in the management of sports competitions. We will attract sports clubs and fans who visit the Åland Islands for training camps. This kind of activity is revitalizing local businesses and economies.
Now let me tell you a little more about my duties as Honorary Consul. What kind of connections and business opportunities have you seen with the Netherlands during your time as HC?
It’s changed quite a bit in the last few years. In the early days, it was associated with the shipping industry, for example. A Dutch ship came to the island and needed help with paperwork. There is currently a lot of interest in the topic of the energy transition, especially offshore wind power. This is a very “hot topic” right now. Although there is a lot of trade between Finland, the Åland Islands and the Netherlands, Dutch companies do not have a physical presence on Åland.
What kind of jobs do HCs have?
In the old days, the HC had to be able to issue passports. These times are history. The situation changed with the introduction of biometric travel documents, and now travel document applications can only be made at the Dutch Embassy in Helsinki. Or maybe Dutch Schiphol and some ‘Glengemeenten’.
I have been involved in searching for import and export business partners between the Åland Islands and the Netherlands. At a general level, the aim is to find and, if necessary, promote links between Finland and the Netherlands.
For example, I represent the Netherlands when international missions come to the islands or when there are activities linked to the Netherlands.
Could you tell us a little more about Aland Island?
Aland Island has a population of 30,000. More are welcome! The public sector can offer double the amount. Restaurants and hotels require more labor, especially in the summer.
The number of Dutch people living on this island is not very large. Aim for 10 to 20 people.
In the summer there are a lot of Dutch tourists. such as caravans and sailing ships. Whenever I hear them speaking Dutch in a store or on the street, I always say hello and tell them to contact me if they need anything.
Over the last few years, several Dutch footballers have played for local team IFK Mariehamn. IFK plays in Finland’s highest division.
The Netherlands is close to my heart and I am proud to be Honorary Consul of the Netherlands.
Learn more about the role of an Honorary Consul here. https://www.government.nl/latest/news/2022/03/22/what-is-an-honorary-consul
Overview of the Dutch Honorary Consulate in Finland: https://www.netherlandsandyou.nl/your-country-and-the-netherlands/finland/about-us/honorary-consuls
https://www.netherlandsandyou.nl/latest-news/news/2023/06/13/interview-with-honorary-consul-jan-erik-rask Interview with Jan-Eric Rusk, Honorary Consul of the Åland Islands | News Article