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
Watch Here

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 Huge Opportunity to Grow”

Putting together a two-day symposium takes 10 months of tireless work by student volunteers. The team emerges with professional experience – and close friendships. 
Photo: Markus Ketola

It was Tuesday morning, barely 24 hours before the first guests were to arrive, and the main campus looked more like a greenhouse than a conference venue. Potted plants covered the plaza and the foyer, green leaves peeking out behind huge crates of glasses and dishware and stacks of furniture.

In the midst of it all was Olivier Benoit, part of the 51st International Students’ Committee (ISC), the student volunteers whose job it is to organize and run the St. Gallen Symposium. A successful symposium is the physical result of months of intense planning, organisation, and collaboration between the 33 members of the ISC, particularly in the weeks and days before the event itself. The three- person core technical operations crew, for instance, work 100- hour weeks leading up to the Symposium.

It takes the crew, assisted by a team of 30 student volunteers, around six days to construct the Symposium infrastructure, in the week of the event. The ISC team operates according to a meticulously detailed daily “master plan”, which includes a breakdown of the tasks in five to ten minute intervals. These are often delegated to groups of volunteers, who can be seen in small groups at the beginning of Symposium week wearing work gloves, pushing laden trolleys, and unloading trucks. 

Working on less than four hours of sleep, Benoitt was a blur of motion nonetheless, darting between the foliage as he searched for tablecloths, cleaning supplies, and truck keys, all spread out across campus. Looking around the organised chaos of the foyer as the Symposium took shape, all he can say is that there are “so many plants”. Details matter: The ISC wants each plant to blend seamlessly into the symposium atmosphere, so Benoit directs student volunteers to work all morning in groups to cover each plastic plant pot with black felt before each is placed carefully around the building. 

When the Symposium began two days later, it represented the culmination of an arduous but rewarding 10-month long journey. On the morning of the Symposium, Bernet sets the masterplan as her phone background to keep her on track throughout the day. Her main job is welcoming the President of the Swiss Confederation, Ignazio Cassis, but she has many hands to shake and tasks to complete in order to ensure the first day runs smoothly. “We will drink a lot of coffee today”, she says, as she greets participants leaving the Aula after the Opening Ceremony.

Photo: Fabiano Mancesti

Yet it is clear that the experience is worth all the sleep deprivation, stress, and long planning meetings that go until 2 am. Committee members get to travel all over the world, meeting with international partners and organising their own events. Through pursuing partners abroad, the team meets many high level personalities they would ordinarily not have access to until well after they have graduated.

For example, Benoit, who is responsible for Switzerland and France alongside technical operations, says one of the highlights of being on the ISC for him was coordinating a reception in March at the Swiss embassy in Paris. Guests included the Swiss ambassador, the CEO and founder of BlueOrange capital, and a consultant to the French president. 

Surprisingly, considering the high standard the team set for themselves, they largely learn on the job, with help from a strong community of alumni. The ISC has an 84-person WhatsApp group, comprised of foundation members, current members, and alumni, which continues to grow almost on a daily basis, to share knowledge from past years.

Help from the alumni community has taken on even greater significance after a prolonged hiatus from a physical Symposium: The event was canceled in 2020 and held mostly online in 2021. Minuscule items, such as screws for the sun umbrellas, haven’t been put to use in three years and the tech crew have had to canvas the WhatsApp chat to locate them. Only four members of the current ISC witnessed an in-person Symposium. Samuel Furrer, who is part of the tech crew, has been studying for three years at St. Gallen and says he is at an advantage compared to his less experienced counterparts as he “knows what a Symposium looks like”. 

The community doesn’t only provide practical help. Bernet has been part of the Symposium for three years and fondly recounts how she has formed strong friendships each year. “It is because we work so closely together”, she says. The stress of the last few weeks pushed the committee even closer together.

The ISC divides their work into two phases, the first is more centred on individual networking and concentrating on your own “market”, which is what the ISC calls the region you are assigned to source partners and organise events. However, in the second phase, namely the weeks leading to the Symposium, the team focuses more on the logistics of the event. This second phase is “more collaborative” and “requires more communication”, according to Benoit. “Team spirits are high”, he says, as the committee works together to complete their collective tasks. 

Photo: Markus Ketola, Fabiano Mancesti
Photo: Markus Ketola, Fabiano Mancesti
Photo: Markus Ketola, Fabiano Mancesti
Photo: Markus Ketola, Fabiano Mancesti

Undoubtedly, being part of the ISC provides an unique networking opportunity, which motivates many members to apply. And there are glamorous moments, such as the Dinner for Partners on Wednesday night, where Bernet had the “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to sit beside and converse with figures such as Indian Parliamentarian Sashi Tharoor, Singaporean Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu, and Jose Manuel Barroso, former President of the European Commission.

However, Bernet says this was not the driving force behind her interest in the ISC, although it certainly played a role. After starting university, she was searching for a “competence to find confidence” and found the chance when she formed part of the Symposium’s support crew in 2019, working in catering. “It’s just a huge opportunity to grow”, she says on her decision to join the ISC.

When combined with the hard work, frustration, and painstaking attention to detail that go into the ISC’s daily work, the ultimate result is a collective journey of personal and professional growth, which lasts long after  the symposium’s closing ceremony.

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