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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Collaborative Advantage: Embracing a New Leadership Paradigm for Turbulent Times

In a hyper-VUCA world, successful leaders and leverage internal strengths and external resources to create a new kind of advantage. By building open ecosystems and fostering flexible collaborations, they create superior value propositions, dominate new markets, and drive innovation through connectivity.

Confronted with a world that is hyper volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA), many managers chase after external changes: Racing after market trends in the latest industry reports, conducting risk assessments, and discussing the game-changing potential of generative AI in the board.

The best entrepreneurs – people who thrive in hyper-VUCA environments – are deeply sceptical of these attempts at strategic foresight: Nobody knows how AI will transform the competitive landscape yet. Instead of chasing after external trends and trying to predict scenarios, they shift the focus to their own strengths and capabilities. The good news is that the answers where to steer your company are already there – but not in analyses of external trends, but in your own employees, your customers and the partners in your ecosystem. Through these crucial resources, you can shape the future instead of chasing after it. After all, the best way to predict the future is to create it.

A New Kind of Advantage

Louis Gerstner reinvented IBM through a crowdsourcing effort to which over 300’000 employees contributed. Satya Nadella managed one the most remarkable transformations of the 21st century by turning Microsoft from a monopolist to an open, collaborative company orchestrating partner resources throughout its entire ecosystem. Manufacturers such as P&G replaced their traditional research & development with a collaborative connect & develop department. Cisco out-innovated the much more prestigious and better resourced Bell Labs through an open approach based on collaborations and acquisitions. 

This new approach goes beyond the traditional idea of competitive advantage. For decades, managers were taught based on Michael Porter’s classical framework: Competitive advantage was the result of superior positioning in the competitive landscape. By analysing and predicting the external world, managers were to find the optimal niche where their company could capture outsized value.

The problem with this approach in a hyper-VUCA world, of course, is that the world changes too quickly and too unpredictably: No positioning in the external world is a sustainable source of competitive advantage. Instead, exceptional leaders and organizations are increasingly going new ways: Instead of analysing their competition, they focus on their own capabilities. Instead of predicting the future, they create it. Instead of building barriers to entry, they build an open ecosystem by leveraging resources around them. Instead of winning through competitive advantage, they win through the adaptability and speed they achieve through collaborative advantage. What do we mean by collaborative advantage? In contrast to prior usage of the word, we loosely define collaborative advantage as the capability of an organisation to leverage resources inside and outside of its formal boundaries to create and capture value.

In today’s world, openness and connectivity are the keys to success. Ecosystems and open networks are the source of competitive advantage. We call this ‘collaborative advantage’ as companies focus on their strengths and partner together in order to create superior, innovative value propositions for their customers and dominate new uncontested market spaces. These companies create win-win-win situations for their customers, their partners, their employees and in the end their shareholders. They innovate by making the world their lab, instead of making the lab their world.

The insight that successful innovation and transformation is done not through heroic foresight but collaboratively with customers, partners and employees throughout the hierarchy was explored across various sectors and issue areas at the 51st St. Gallen Symposium in 2022. During our talks, exceptional leaders such as Roshni Nadar (Chairperson HCLTech, Forbes “100 most powerful women in business”), Manuel Barroso (President European Commission, 2004-2014) or Aditya Ghosh (President IndiGo, 2008-2018) highlighted how they have achieved their successes by nurturing open networks of flexible collaboration.

A New Model for Leadership

How can you lead for collaborative advantage? Research has shown that in most organisations only 4% of leaders are responsible for creating over 30% of the value-creating collaborations. To be clear, this is not a story of ineffective leadership. Rather, many managers are stuck in old mental models which are effective at managing processes and individuals, but don’t translate well to managing open, collaborative networks. But advantage moved from economies of scale (“the large eats the small”) over individual innovativeness (“the fast eats the slow”) towards collaborative advantage based on managing relations of synergy and coopetition (“the connected eats the lonesome”). These often coopetive relations form the neural network” within and beyond your organization which drive innovation and transformation. They energise performance, guide or obstruct change and form the nervous system of an organisation through which ideas and resources can flow. A breadth of research in diverse contexts shows that the quality of these collaboration patterns of a group are much more important for its innovative performance than the individual skills and motivations of the group members. In addition, transformation initiatives which target collaboration signatures are typically between 4 and 8 times more effective than those which focus on individual employees.

What is needed is a new, complementary perspective to classical leadership principles. Both transactional and transformational leadership have their role in effective organisations, but organizations don’t succeed based on incentives and purpose alone. At the end of the day, humans are social animals. Effective leaders integrate collaborative leadership into their repertoire:

Table: Collaborative advantage requires a collaborative approach to leadership.

How can you put this into practice and start leading more collaboratively in your own organisation?

A good first step is to start small and create visibility around the openness of your organisation with regards to a key stakeholder. We recommend starting with customer-openness, as this is usually well accepted in most organisations. For example, you could consider taking a page out of tool manufacturer Hilti’s playbook and track throughout your organisation (i) how many direct customer interactions you have and (ii) what percentage of employees have a direct customer interaction at least once a week. Just by making these measures visible you send a strong signal throughout the organisation that you value openness with regards to the customer.

Dig Deeper

Interested in opening up your organisation? In their new book “Collaborative Advantage”, Raphael Boemelburg and Oliver Gassmann offer a wide range of practical cases and personal reflections from exceptional leaders such as Satya Nadella (CEO Microsoft), John Hennessey (Chairperson Alphabet), Roshni Nadar (Chairperson HCLTech), Matthias Doepfner (CEO Springer), Yves Daccord (Director General ICRC), and many others. It also explores how companies can use data and AI to better manage transformations: As knowledge workers use ever more software tools, they leave digital footprints which form an untapped treasure trove for people analytics. The book illustrates with a diverse set of concrete examples how these data sources can be interpreted and used in practice to drive transformative business value.

Oliver Gassmann, Raphael Boemelburg

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