10 Break-Out Sessions

  • Time: 3:30 pm - 4:30 pm

A Demographic Revolution: Young India Takes Charge (with All India Management Association)
Ritesh Agarwal, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, OYO Rooms
Pranjal Sharma (Topic Leader), Economic Analyst, Advisor and Author, India

India is undergoing its economic, technological and demographic transition simultaneously. An old country is becoming youthful and adventurous with the passage of time. Young Indians like OYO founder Ritesh Agarwal are quietly taking charge of Indian ethos by becoming icons of audacious aspirations and tangible proofs of its potential, spawning startups that are becoming most valuable and famous than many legacy companies. How can young revolutionaries find ways to carry the older generation of investors, regulators, workers and consumers with them and what can other economies and founders learn from India’s momentous transition?

Collaborative Advantage Across Generations: Reflecting on the SGS Experience (ISC Alumni)
Former Members of the International Students' Comittee
Christoph Loos (Topic Leader), Chief ­Executive ­Offi­cer, Hilti AG
Vivian Bernet (Topic Leader), Head of the Organising Committe, International Students' Comittee
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For over 50 years teams of student have volunteered to organise the St. Gallen Symposium. They have written countless invitations, met thousands of partners, and welcomed some of the most important personalities of their time on stage. Together with former members of the ISC we will reflect on the St. Gallen Symposium experience of cross-generational dialogue and collaboration, the lessons they have learned for their lives and on how the symposium has evolved. This session is organised together with ISC Alumni.

Collective Genius? Cultivating Creativity in the Arts and Beyond
Susan Goldsworthy, Affiliate Professor of Leadership, Communications and Organizational Change, IMD Business School
Gerry Hofstetter, Light Artist & Film Producer Hofstetter Marketing
Javiera Estrada, Artist
Tatjana Rupp (Topic Leader), Member of the International Students' Committee

As the need for innovation is growing, the routinisation of well-structured creative processes within organizations is key for concurrent value creation. Prof. Susan Goldsworthy of IMD, this year's St. Gallen Symposium artist Javiera Estrada and Light Artist Gerry Hofstetter will discuss the role of collaboration in the creative process. Together, and in conversation with the audience, they’ll explore the way collaboration can drive creativity in various organisational contexts, and, on the other hand, the role of introversion and lone contemplation in creating something new.

Connecting Business with Purpose: The Potential of Skills-Based Volunteering
Curdin Duschletta, Head Community Impact Switzerland & Foundations, UBS
Christopher Jarvis, Executive Director, RWInstitute
Prof. Amanda Shantz (Topic Leader), MBA Director and Professor of Management, University of St.Gallen

Many employee volunteering and giving programs are presented as an employee perk, similar to casual Fridays or a team-building event. But treating workplace giving and volunteering this way fails to fully capitalise on the great potential of such programs: to foster employee personal growth, and address key societal challenges. The panel will particularly explore the potential of skills-based volunteering, its benefits, and the unique challenges that arise when moving from merely transactional volunteering to something far more transformative.

Financing the Next Generation of Entrepreneurs
Patrick Zhong, Founding Managing Partner, M31 Capital
Makram Azar, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Full Circle Capital
Prof. Julia Binder (Topic Leader), Professor of Sustainable Innovation and Business Transformation, IMD Business School

The investment landscape over the next twenty years will be radically different from previous generations. While there appears to be greater access to capital, there also appears to be much more volatility and debt with no clear dominant financing mechanism. Entrepreneurs, VC, Private Equity, and banks will have to find new ways to work together to create growth and stimulate innovation. How can investors and entrepreneurs better collaborate and find mutually beneficial agreements that balance risk and return?

Hacking the Fashion & Luxury Watchmaking Industry towards more Sustainability (with Condé Nast College)
Martina Bonnier, Editor-In-Chief, Vogue Scandinavia
Raynald Aeschlimann, President and CEO, Omega S.A
Carmen Jenny, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, CLOTHESfriends AG
Johannes Reponen (Topic Leader), Director of Post-Graduate Programmes; Academic Affairs; Research & Knowledge Exchange, Condé Nast College

The fashion industry accounts for 10% of humanity’s annual carbon emissions – more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined. For long, the fashion and luxury watchmaking industry drove, together with the fashion media industry, unsustainable dynamics in the sector: generating more and more demand through an artificial cycle of new collections and seasonal trends. Businesses’ marketing, media as well as influencers thereby create a constant longing and demand for their products. How can designers, fashion houses and publishers exit this vicious cycle and, collaboratively, drive the transition towards more sustainable and ethical fashion and luxury watchmaking?

M100 Sanssouci Colloquium@St. Gallen: Media’s New Power: More Impact Through Collaborative Journalism
Mathias Müller von Blumencron, Journalist, Member of the Board, Tagesanzeiger and Advisory Board Member M100 Sanssouci Colloquium
Joanna Krawczyk, Chairwoman, Leading European Newspaper Alliance
Paul Radu, Investigative Journalist, Co-Founder OCCRP
Astrid Frohloff (Topic Leader), TV Presenter and Journalist, Advisory Board Member M100 Sanssouci Colloquium

Media diversity, freedom of the press and freedom of expression in Europe are currently under threat. Journalists and independent media companies are increasingly joining forces across borders to respond to such challenges as well as to be able to continue to offer independent quality journalism in the future. This session will identify learnings from new media partnerships such as the Leading European Newspaper Alliance (LENA) and the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) to identify how media can most effectively work together.

Democratizing Access to the next Generation of Technology and Innovation: Communities and Radical Transformation
Gina Loften, Member of the Board of Trustees, TIAA
Luzius Meisser, Chairman, Bitcoin Suisse
Tycho Onnasch, General Manager, Trust Machines
Shuo Chen (Topic Leader), General Partner, IOVC

Technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship are key drivers of the modern economy and social mobility. Given their importance, we should strive to improve accessibility to tech, education and entrepreneurship across all backgrounds. Creating open and inclusive communities, especially with tech is important to accomplishing this goal, but it is easier said that done. Simultaneously, a third iteration of the internet – Web3 – has the potential to radically transform the internet of things and reduce barriers to access. How can these forces be effectively harnessed and directed for the benefit of all people and move the world forward?

Varieties of Tech Capitalism: Europe's Approach to Innovation and Regulation in a Global Context
Julian Teicke, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, wefox
Lisa-Marie Fassl, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Female Founders
Christoph Keese (Topic Leader), Managing Partner and Chief Executive Officer, hy

Over the past decades, the tech sector, especially the internet of things, has become a central component of modern economies. Trying to catch up with the exponential pace of technological development, the US, China, and Europe are crafting rules of the game on digital markets. What are the emerging characteristic differences between regulatory regimes of digital markets, in the US, Europe and beyond, and how do they balance innovation and regulation? In light of strategic competition over tech dominance between the US and China, what are the opportunities and challenges for Europe in particular?

Changed for Good? Engaging with the New World of Work
Petra von Strombeck, Chief Executive Officer, New Work SE
Jean-Christophe Deslarzes, Chair of the Board, Adecco Group
Nat Ware, Founder & CEO Forte
Prof. Heike Bruch (Topic Leader), Director, Institute for Leadership and Human Resources Management, University of St. Gallen
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The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the world of work forever. The fast and widespread adoption of remote work and an ever-increasing concern of employees with purpose and meaning on their job have intensified the war for talents. Reaching out to and concurrently engaging employees is key for businesses across sectors and regions. What learnings can be drawn from the pandemic as regards our approach to work? Has the world of work changed for the better? And what role does leadership culture and a new approach to hiring play going forward?

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A clear-eyed optimist, in and out of politics

Rewind a few decades, to Vienna In the mid-1990s. At the time, the Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) was just beginning to make waves as an anti-foreigner movement. Marie Ringler, then a political science and gender studies student at the University of Vienna, decided she had to take a stand in the face of the growing racist sentiment around her. “Why is the world so broken?”, she wondered.

With a group of friends, Ringler organised rallies and demonstrations. It was fun, yet she quickly realised that these didn’t have the impact she was looking for. “We weren’t changing anything,” Ringler says. “The government was happy to see us spend our energy in the street, since they could carry on as usual.” After half a year, the Green Party asked if Ringler would run for office. “I was 24, and had no idea what I was getting myself into!”, she says now. Not only was she a woman, but she also would be the youngest sitting representative in the regional Parliament.

But duty called. “When you have that nagging feeling that street rallies are not changing anything, you have a responsibility to take action,” she says. “And I felt that politics could be an avenue for that.” The mechanics of politics — parliamentary debates, bringing motions and cobbling together a majority — should represent 10% of a politician’s time and energy, according to Ringler. “The other 90% is talking with your constituency, the citizens, stakeholders, and your party members. Politicians often lose sight of what is the most relevant in order to get things done.” She used her office to create transparency, sharing what was happening in the Parliament with the citizens using the Internet. In 2004, she started a blog to show what was happening behind the scenes of the Parliament. “I created a lot of anger within the system,” says Ringler. But she never bowed; she wanted to bridge the gap between the elected officials and the people they represented.

“Life is too short to be in politics forever”

Fast-forward to 2010. Ringler decided to keep moving, because otherwise, she’d be part of the system – and, she says, part of the problem. “People stay in politics forever and become dependent on its structures. It feeds their vanity,” she says. At the time, Ringler was a part time MBA student at the University of St. Gallen. One of her professors presented a case study about Specialisterne, a Danish company that leverages the unique strengths of people with autism to find them jobs. The idea changed her way of seeing business. And when she found out that the founder was a part of a network called Ashoka, she was determined to be a part of it.

There only was a small problem: Ashoka didn’t have an office in Austria. Ringler decided to change that. “I basically recruited myself and called Ashoka’s German director to build a new branch,” she says. The role was the perfect application for leadership skills she had been honing for the past two decades. “Starting the office means you have to raise funds, build a network, find fellows,” she says. “You have to build the reputation of the brand and make yourself useful to the ecosystem.”

And she succeeded – first, as Austrian Country Director. Then, as Europe co-Director. And today as head of the organisation’s European operation. Ringler aims to build a culture of trust and innovation. “What I love about this role is that it allows me to work with our different country offices and help them really step into their greatness. That’s what this role is about.”

Empathetic problem solvers

Ashoka’s interconnected, global structure has been a perfect fit for the former politician. Ringler is an optimist, but doesn’t look at the world through rose-tinted glasses. “What I care about most is: How do we build communities of business leaders, policy makers, and citizens who want to drive change? It really is an art.” And Ringler believes it’s ultimately the way to move forward.

Move what forward, you ask? Anything: “We have two years to solve the biodiversity crisis, so we better get going.” But that’s only an example. Ringler wants to erase poverty, increase political transparency, give a voice to the unheard. “Ashoka is topic agnostic,” she explains. “It’s about exposing problems and finding their solutions from the bottom up.”

As long as you give great entrepreneurs support and create spaces where they can really take action, she says, they will provide solutions to the world’s problems. And the best entrepreneurs are empathetic problem solvers. “You need to be able to step into someone else’s shoes to solve problems in a way that will impact everyone,” says Ringler. So how has Ringler’s early experience in the male-dominated world of Austrian politics informed her work? She says there really is a difference between the way women and men lead. “Women often empower individual members of their communities to lead, more than men do.” That result is a “deeper scale,” or organisations that have a better reach within their communities. They create movements.

Men, in contrast, tend to scale more traditionally, seeking quantity over quality. The more countries reached, the merrier, in other words. “Men are born in a world that teaches them to not listen to their emotions, not listen to their intuition, not be empathetic and to elbow their way to the top,” Ringler says. While learning about leadership theories, Ringler realised that the qualities that made a good leader were usually not the ones that men are taught to value.
“Being a man means being assertive, and always putting the focus on what you’re doing,” says Ringler. “But we all know that modesty and humility are key criteria for good leaders. Stealing the spotlight might get you a CEO position, but does it make you a great leader? Not necessarily.”

Ringler’s advice for ambitious women? Stop doubting yourself. She likens women getting top positions to jumping off a high diving board. “Society can make sure that you get into the swimming pool. It can help you feel comfortable in your bathing suit and teach you to swim,” she says. “But you need to climb up a high ladder, and jumping 10 meters takes courage.” The world might be broken. But the more purpose-driven people who take that leap, the more problems we can solve. Together.

Marie Ringler was elected to office as part of the Green Party at the age of 24. She’s now working to improve the world by supporting and connecting social entrepreneurs.

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