MICHAEL LIIKALA: CEO and Managing Partner
Michael Liikala is CEO and Managing Partner of Solutions International, a firm focused on helping leading firms achieve substantial success in the infrastructure, renewable energy and technology sectors. Under Mr. Liikala's leadership, SI delivered more than $8 billion in client contracts. SI's project expertise is broad and varied but includes transportation infrastructure such as worldwide high speed rail project delivery and operations, water infrastructure, and extensive experience in Public-Private Partnership (P3) projects. SI has gained a reputation as a highly competent and efficient advisor to select Fortune 500 and newly emerging firms. SI works with clients to build a custom team of advisors as well as market experts for each tailored strategy. These experts are selected based on Mr. Liikala’s almost 30 years of international business experience working with private and public sector leaders.
Before returning to the private sector, Mr. Liikala had a distinguished and highly recognized career spanning over 25 years of service in senior U.S Government positions. His last assignment was as the Director of International Strategic Alliances for the U.S. Commercial Service (CS) and leader of the CS California Trade Partnership initiative. In this capacity, he also served as an advisor to the Schwarzenegger Administration in California. He advised and developed trade and investment strategies for the CS worldwide and for the State of California and its firms including in the many areas of public infrastructure such as water, transportation, renewable energy, and technology.
From 2000-2004, Mr. Liikala served as Senior Commercial Officer, SCO, in the U.S Embassy in Spain and oversaw the commercial operations for the United States through offices in Madrid and Barcelona. He and his team assisted Boeing, G.E., General Dynamics and Cisco as well as over 200 small and medium sized firms enter or expand operations there in sectors as diverse as energy, technology and franchising. As head of the Commercial Service in Spain, he was tasked by the White House to put together Joint Ventures for the rebuilding of Iraq between US and Spanish firms. He helped coordinate CEO level meetings with US and Spanish firms which led to key infrastructure projects for example helping CH2M Hill to create a joint venture for water infrastructure in the Middle East. Prior to Madrid he served 4 years as SCO in Buenos Aires where Mr. Liikala had an extraordinary record of achievement in commercial diplomacy including opening the market for over 350 U.S firms, serving as acting Ambassador and helping a U.S. firm win the concession on the privatization of all 33 airports in Argentina, the largest such privatization in history.
In the United States, Mr. Liikala served as Western Regional Director for the U.S. Department of Commerce, managing 33 offices in 13 states. In that role he developed and implemented, with Secretary Ron Brown, the California Initiative, creating a state-wide public-private partnership to assist firms commercialize their technologies and expand their sales abroad. From 1988-1992 Mr. Liikala established and directed the first Western Regional operations for the Bureau of Export Administration (BXA) with responsibilities for regulating and advising companies on export regulations affecting over $90 billion dollars in exports annually.
Previous to these field positions, Mr. Liikala worked in Washington, D.C. as Chief of Staff for the Under Secretary of Commerce (1984-88), where he helped manage a 700 person organization responsible for U.S. Trade Laws and the complex U.S. Export Control Regulations. He led the team of negotiators who successfully concluded multi-billion dollar voluntary restraint agreements with Japan and Taiwan and was the Commerce lead on negotiations with developing countries during the 1980’s debt crisis. In addition, from 1981-1984, he was the Senior Trade Advisor to the Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade and was responsible for developing Commerce Department positions for Secretary Malcolm Baldridge and the Cabinet-level committee on U.S. International Economic Policy.
Mr. Liikala has also worked in the U.S. Treasury Department on International Investment issues and on the United States Senate Banking Committee, where he was involved in the drafting and passage of the Export Administration Act, the Export Trading Company Act, and the Congressional review of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Prior to this, Mr. Liikala started and ran his own successful international trading firm and worked as a legislative analyst at the California State Legislature.
Mr. Liikala has a Masters Degree from John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in International Law/Economics and a Masters Degree in Finance and Public Administration from the University of Southern California. He received a BA in Law and Public Policy from the University of California. He has lectured and spoken to business groups worldwide, including Executive programs at Harvard Business School, Stanford School of Engineering, the University of California and leading think tanks and is often quoted in business media including the Wall Street Journal and foreign business press.