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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Essay Review 2022

Introducing the Top 25 Essays of the St.Gallen Symposium Global Essay Competition

Every year, twenty-five essays are selected from hundreds of submissions to the Global Essay Competition. These essays are authored by a generation of future leaders from all around the world. Answering to a thematised call that revolves around the main topic of the Annual St. Gallen Symposium, young talents discover a range of interconnected topic areas that are rarely discussed in these combinations outside of the symposium. The essays propose novel ideas that address major challenges we collectively face today. Their problem statements are provocative and their suggestions to tackle the challenges are creative and visionary.These writings inspire important conversations about our future during and beyond the symposium. Indeed, it is one of the main goals of the St. Gallen Symposium to enable the Leaders of Tomorrow to carry the dialogue forward every year, and to connect these inspired young thinkers with the decision makers and powerful organisations of today. This year, the main topic of the Global Essay Competition was “collaborative advantage” and “reinventing the intergenerational contract”.   

As many of the top twenty-five essays stipulate, achieving intergenerational justice is the main purpose of a reformed intergenerational contract. Intergenerational justice can be defined as justice between two currently living generations, but also, as justice among several successive generations. The core idea of intergenerational justice is closely tied to the idea of sustainability:  if all (current and future) generations are to benefit, it is crucial that each generation receives what it is entitled to from the previous one, and contributes its fair share to coming generations. In this context, a balance must always be struck between the freedom of the current generation, which makes the decisions, and its obligations to future generations, which must live with the consequences. Intergenerational challenges require a collaborative effort on all levels of communities and organisations, from individual to intergovernmental settings. By adapting a collaborative approach, societies can find effective value creation mechanisms between businesses, governments, and across generations.

Leaders of Tomorrow Call for Immediate Action

A conviction shared by the authors of this year’s top essay submissions has been that collaborative action arises from dialogue and mutual understanding. It requires the collaboration of entities (individuals, institutions, states and beyond) from different action domains. It requires the collaboration of entities that might have never identified each other as collaborating partners before. It is therefore necessary that these collaborating partners exhibit openness, flexibility, and a willingness to acknowledge and work on new problems. Collaborative action can be initiated in a bottom-up fashion, and evolve organically, and it can also be orchestrated by supra-national or intercontinental organisations.

At the same time, collaborative advantage, if created only among the most well-positioned entities, will not reach its maximal capacities. In order to harness the power of collaboration, current divisions between generations as contract partners of a new intergenerational contract must be salvaged.

The divisive factors – identified by the Leaders of Tomorrow – are manifold and complex. For example, geographical divides mean that certain populations are more at risk of conflict and extreme weather linked to climate change, while also being less likely to receive the kind of future-oriented education that would result in efficient local problem-solving. Another example of a divisive factor is the different age of the contract participants. Age divide creates a generation-specific “communication barrier”, where misunderstandings and disagreements arise due to the fact that generations differ in their attitudes and habits when it comes to the use of language and media outlets. Moreover, age divide endangers the legitimacy of existing institutions and decision-making routines, as elder generations are often left out and left behind in the digitalised era, while younger generations face a much higher entry barrier of gaining a political voice, or even, of making a living, as the public spending on pensions increases. Finally, in the most extreme case of age divide, parties of the intergenerational contract do not even “meet”, and the fact that decisions made today disproportionately impact the future of unborn generations remains largely unaddressed.

The top contributions of this year’s Global Essay Competition provided a plethora of actionable ideas to restore and reinvent the intergenerational contract for maximising our collaborative advantage. The essays carefully consider a refreshing array of topic areas that could foster intergenerational cooperation, ranging from socioeconomical and financial issues to ecological, institutional and even individual-level solutions. A strong sense of urgency was the most common sentiment in the essay submissions: Leaders of Tomorrow agree that the time of “talking the talk” is over, and we now must collectively “walk the walk” to restore intergenerational fairness. The essays call for taking responsibility and their action recommendations address all actors (individuals, companies, governments, and beyond) and all generations. There is a remarkable diversity of the contribution’s contexts, including examples from the United States, Europe, Russia, China, Japan, Singapore and India.

New Issue Linkages for Sustainable Social Change

A more holistic way of dealing with our global challenges is required. Four out of twenty-five essays discovered the power of linking environmental protection with pension plans. The main argument of this stream of essays is that pension plans in general should become “greener”. Whether this is achieved by incorporating green investment into the default option of pension plans, or financially incentivizing employees to opt for non-polluting jobs, future reforms of the pension system should consider the issue of environmental sustainability.

The issue of pension reform has also been linked to sustainability in a broader sense, arguing that especially in aging societies, young people are disproportionately burdened to finance the pension of older generations, and thus less likely to afford housing and subsequently, their own retirement. Recommendations to overcome this challenge include the reform of the estate tax, introducing universal basic inheritance, and embracing traditional family systems once again, while also acknowledging the existence of underprivileged families and creating mechanisms that ensure their access to intergenerational justice. The Leaders of Tomorrow do not necessarily see the state as the main decision maker in pension-related issues. One essay argues that a public pension reform should be overseen by a democratic and diverse global forum.

In addition to emphasizing the global environmental benefits of pension reforms, some Leaders of Tomorrow also propose novel linkages to reinstall climate justice. For example, one essay identifies engineers as important actors that could mitigate climate risks. Specifically, adding certain elements into engineering education, such as collaborating with climate activists and social scientists, would help engineers to better understand the impact of their actions on social as well as environmental structures. Introducing the equivalent of the Hippocratic Oath for engineers would prevent the next generation of engineers from perpetuating climate injustice. Furthermore, engineers should engage in co-developing knowledge and data with local communities, while making their scientific process available to the public.

Reinstating intergenerational health and health equity is yet another burning point that should be addressed by decision makers. As the Leaders of Tomorrow pointed out in several essays, health expenditures are one of the main causes of intergenerational poverty. For sustainable future healthcare systems, a shift is needed in the discourse around health: we must pivot away from victim blaming, and include mutual care, accountability and prioritizing human lives over profit. The essays revolving around healthcare represent a broader, socioeconomically embedded approach, as they include issues such as digital wellbeing, the psycho-social benefits of kindness, and mutual social care. There is a lot that can be done on the individual level to break the cycle of bad intergenerational health; however, we must acknowledge the underlying socioeconomic causes of poor health, and address them in a systemic, institutionalized manner.

For example, one essay urges for a more systemic understanding of the intergenerational effects of substance addiction, and proposes the establishment of a “Global Medicines Authority for Human Safety and Bio-social Justice”. Mitigating rising healthcare costs can be done without undermining pharmaceutical innovation, as the recommendations of another essay aptly point out. First, governments can tax sugar more in order to decrease sugar consumption. Second, in order to address increasing public healthcare spending requirements, debt financing should be introduced instead of cost cutting. And third, through a collaboration of governments and the pharmaceutical industry, a tax reform should be implemented that rewards newly discovered treatments that have an impact on societal welfare.

Enhance Long-term Thinking in Decision Making

While the opportunities to influence the future are increasing, the foresight of decision-makers cannot keep pace. Two essays argue that new “Generations Councils” should be incorporated into decision making processes on all institutional levels (firm, government, international) to ensure that the interest of future generations is represented. In a similar vein, two further essays argue that we not only must predict the future, but we must also design it. These essays demonstrate the power of Future Design, an interdisciplinary framework encompassing insights from economics, psychology, ethics and neuroscience. The Future Design process is already in use in several Japanese municipalities and has been proven useful in climate-related policy making, among others.

Long-term thinking in policy making is challenging when there is an intergenerational democratic deficit, as one essay highlights. One solution to this problem would be to adjust regular policy cost-benefit analyses by accounting for different impact for the different generations. For this, it would be crucial to improve the data analysis capabilities of governments, and to codify political commitment to intergenerational fairness. Furthermore, increasing age diversity in policy making bodies would help with both of these points.

Solving Old (and New) Problems with New Tools

The ever-renewing toolkit with which we can tackle mounting challenges is a cause for optimism. This toolkit is not purely techn(olog)ical, as it also refers to our capabilities as humans to shift our perspectives and revisit definitions for greater collaborative advantage. Leaders of Tomorrow express their high trust in existing institutions, adding that their continuous adaptability is key in answering to new challenges. In addition, several essays recommend the creation of new institutions. The essays echo the sentiment of a Symposium speaker, the politician and economist turned activist from Botswana, Bogolo Kenewendo: “How we position our institutions now, will determine how resilient we are in the next crisis”. Such new forms of organisations might be created on the grassroot level, addressing rigidities in local educational systems, for example, or on the national level, to provide more visibility to disadvantaged groups, or even on the supranational level, in the form on new intergovernmental councils. At the moment, regional representation is not equal in the world, and therefore, while institutional reforms should still take place on the multilateral level, a stronger regional representation is needed. Values such as diversity, transparency, accountability, inclusion, and compassion are mentioned as guiding posts for these new institutions.

A further opportunity for collaboration beyond institutions is the use of digital platforms with the sophisticated tools of artificial intelligence, changing media landscapes and immersive technological innovations. For example, today 30% of the global food supply does not reach its destination due to logistical inefficiencies. This is not a resource problem – it is a management problem. The top twenty-five essays call for more responsibility: it is up to all of us to correct these inefficiencies, and it is not just the responsibility of the developing world. Collaborative platforms and novel technologies, combined with the ultimate human goal of creating fairer societies, can be the way forward to better connect producers and consumers, stop overproduction, optimize product, aid, as well as knowledge distribution globally.


Even if we do not have all the answers today, even if it seems like we might never have all the answers, we must continue the dialogue on these pressing issues. We must update our language and discourses to include terms that best describe our new challenges, and that progressively identify populations at risk – groups of people and organisms who might have never been placed in the same category before; however, now they are connected through risk. How can we talk about these new challenges, if we do not know what to call them or how to place them in a broader system of interdependencies? We here in St. Gallen think that the Global Essay Competition is an excellent form of maintaining and updating this dialogue. The influx of essays from young thinkers every year keeps us on our toes and prompts us to new exchanges, where we can say: “This is what we know, what can we do about it – together?”

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