With almost 30 years of experience in diplomacy and international relations, Susanne Rumohr Hækkerup can be described as a diplomatic powerhouse. From March 2016 she was appointed new Executive Director at Asia House in Copenhagen. ScandAsia talked to her about herself and her new life in Denmark.
Susanne’s career started in 1987 when she graduated from Copenhagen University with a Masters degree in History, Eastern Affairs and Russian. When ScandAsia asked her why she chose a diplomatic career, she replied that “I have always been interested in Denmark and how we together with other countries push the world in a direction that is beneficial to Denmark and the global community”.
And it can easily be argued, that Susanne has contributed positively to Denmark’s strong international brand. She has among other things served as Deputy Head of Mission at the Danish Embassies in Moscow and in Beijing. From 2010 to 2014 she furthermore served as Ambassador to Mexico also with responsibility for the Caribbean Islands.
But now, in her new position at Asia House, she is going to work in a more fixed setting at the organization’s location on India Quay in Copenhagen. “The charm of Copenhagen is its small size. Here, I can take my bike to work. It’s not like in Bangkok and other Asian cities, where taking the bike is to gamble with your life” Susanne laughs.
A more settled life was also one of the reasons Susanne choose Asia House instead of a position abroad.
“The position at Asia House gave me the possibility to do something good and work with something that I care about while being able to live in Denmark,” Susanne explains.
However, despite the shift from a public to a private job, Susanne still works in the field of international relations, but in a different role.
“I still work with the same people and businesses as before, but now I contribute with something else. Today, I help provide a neutral platform that gives access to Asia or bring in Asian contacts to Denmark”.
So when asked her whether the job at Asia House is a retirement post, Susanne flatly rejects.
“Here at Asia House I have to use all my skills and experiences, so I definitely do not consider this a retirement post.”
There are many possibilities for future development for Asia House, Susanne explains. However, she does not intend to transform the organization. The purpose of Asia House remains to form a networking platform for Danish and Asian businesses.
“The future development of Asia House is to establish a platform that adapts to the demand of our users. Not one that tell our users what they need”.
Susanne and Asia House can be described as the perfect match. Now, four months into the job Susanne also seems very content with her new life in Denmark.
“I have two teenage boys who are very happy to live in Copenhagen,” she says “so despite the rain, I am happy to be back”.
Susanne owes her last name to her marriage to the former Danish Minister of Defense Hans Hækkerup, who passed away in 2013.