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
Watch Here

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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Can Cross-Generational Dialogue Accelerate Change?

When it comes to climate change, the younger and the older generation seem to often take different stands. We spoke with environmentalist Laura Hernandez Merlano and Shell CEO Ben van Beurden about the most pressing crises facing the world today and how we can improve cross-generational dialogue to tackle them.

In 1968 students worldwide protested against capitalism, the elite, racism, and the Vietnam war. In this context, five students initiated the first St. Gallen Symposium to start cross-generational dialogue.What are the topics the two generations are discussing the most right now?

Photo: Markus Ketola

Ben van Beurden: No doubts, climate change. Of course, I am very exposed to it because of the industry that I am in. But, even if I try to stand back and be objective, I do think climate change and therefore the energy transition probably is one of the most discussed topics. The other is general equality in society – whether it’s gender equality, racial equality, or freedom of ideas.

Laura Hernandez Merlano: Fifty years ago, it was this message of justice and peace that we saw. Today this justice approach is incorporated into the way we approach sustainability, as well as how we make sure that we are getting all perspectives, and not just those of traditional stakeholders. Although some of these values of sustainability and cross-generational dialogue are seen as innovative, they have been shared by Indigenous people since time immemorial.

What does cross-generational dialogue mean to you?

Ben van Beurden: Practically, it means discussing things with my four children, who are all in different age brackets. We also have a significant number of young people in our company who want to understand not only what the direction of the company is, but also if we can change it and what their role in this is. Intergenerational dialogue is not an abstract concept for me. It is present every day.

Laura Hernandez Merlano: Cross-generational dialogue means shifting the narrative to an inclusive, intersectional and holistic approach. It means valuing lived experience and intergenerational knowledge just as much as we value the opinions of industry leaders and academics. We need to make sure that this cross-generational dialogue is inclusive and amplifies the voices of the most overburdened and underserved people. We must prioritize their voices, since these decisions have a direct impact on their livelihoods. If we are going to address this crisis, we need to make sure we address not just climate change, but biodiversity loss and environmental inequities.

One of the biggest challenges mankind is facing is climate change. If we do not reach climate targets, especially the younger generation will feel the consequences. Does that impact the relationship between the two generations negatively?

Ben van Beurden: I would be tempted to say yes – much more so looking at it through the eyes of the younger generation. I do detect that there is limited patience, but also limited trust from the younger generation. That is only natural because they still have the challenges ahead of them.

Laura Hernandez Merlano: Climate change is here already. Young people are already experiencing its effects: Forests are burning, ocean levels are rising. That is why we feel this urgency to act compared to previous generations. Climate change has been emerging as a priority and has been recognized as a crisis in global discussions, but youth haven’t necessarily seen that urgency reflected in actions. That’s why the relationship between older and younger generations must prioritize accountability and collaboration. Youth needs to be represented on boards and other leadership roles in the decision-making process.

What can we do to improve this relationship?
Photo: Markus Ketola

Ben van Beurden: Dialogue would help but also more participation across the generations. The pandemic hasn’t helped in many ways. Before, it was more common for me to meet up with a small group of young people and talk about what they think about the strategy of the company. And more often I have heard about good ideas and didn’t just explain what I was thinking. Today, we can and should do more of these meetings again.

Laura Hernandez Merlano: The biggest impact we can make is giving overburdened and underserved communities which are facing the direct effects of climate change a voice. When we give them – not just the younger people but across generations – a platform to share their experiences and how they have been dealing with this, we can begin to foster really inclusive intergenerational dialogue.

Last year, a court ordered Shell to adjust its climate targets. Several environmental non-governmental organisations had filed a lawsuit against the company. As a reaction, van Beurden said that even if Shell stopped selling oil and gas immediately, this would not change the demand for fossil fuels. Do we need to approach climate change from the supply or the demand side?

Ben van Beurden: It needs to be done by both. For a long time, people would simply argue that if you change supply, things will change. But if we were to stop selling petrol today, I don’t think people would say: Now that I can’t fill up my car at Shell, I will buy an electric car. Ultimately, we have to work at least as much on the demand side regulation. And there we have a role to play. We have to work with customers and governments to find out how we can support the demand for greener products.

Laura Hernandez Merlano: Both. The industry has the responsibility to be innovators and leaders. They should not wait for governments or courts. But this is coupled with an opportunity to empower individuals to understand the power they hold as consumers in a capitalist society. We can vote democratically, but we can also vote with our dollars. Individuals can create incredible change once they realise their ability to influence demand.

Is it possible to be the CEO of one of the largest oil companies and still be committed to environmental protection?

Ben van Beurden: You say oil company, but I like to think of ourselves as an energy transition company. Our mission is to provide more and cleaner energy solutions. If you think of yourself like that, then it is logical that you try to accelerate the transition. I did say – to the horror of some of my industry compatriots – that we should ban internal combustion engines. Only then are we going to change the emissions associated with mobility. We have to have governmental interventions to do it, and those need to be supported by companies like ours.

Laura Hernandez Merlano: The industry leaders of these companies need to be the most responsible and accountable in this space. It isn’t just possible to be committed to environmental protection, it is a requirement. If you call yourself an industry leader, you need to act like one. We need to be able to shift so that the globe can recover and heal, or otherwise there will be no future for us or these companies.

BIO: Ben van Beurden is the Chief Executive Officer of Shell. After graduating with a master’s degree in Chemical Engineering from Delft University in the Netherlands, he joined Shell in 1983 and became the CEO of the company in 2014. He is also a member of the supervisory board of Mercedes-Benz.

BIO: Laura Hernandez Merlano calls herself a social environmentalist. She dedicates her time to working with grassroots youth organisations and is a national youth advisor for the Jane Goodall Institute, which uses community-centered conservation to mobilise action on biodiversity loss, climate change, and environmental inequity.

Check out the full video interview here (Videographer: Christopher Leroux)

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