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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Executive Summary 49th St. Gallen Symposium

Every year for nearly half a century, the St. Gallen Symposium has gathered hundreds of participants – titans of industry, top politicians, entrepreneurs and scholars, students and activists – to discuss an important topic. In recent years, attendees have discussed disruption, growth, and the future of work.

When it was first proposed, this year’s theme seemed limited, even unimaginative: What could be more predictable than a conference on capital held in one of the richest countries on earth?

But as guests gathered in St. Gallen, it became clear that they were there not to celebrate the status quo, but to challenge it. Over the course of three days they questioned the very nature of the system that has organised our economies and preoccupied our politicians for centuries. From its first moments, the symposium’s debates concerned nothing less than the uncertain and precarious future of our world. In the face of profound, existential threats, they agreed, we must make profound changes.

‘Young people are not the future.’

In one of the last sessions of the symposium, Bobby Jones, a New York-based marketing guru who has worked extensively with today’s youth, challenged the very premise that “Leaders of Tomorrow” should wait their turn. “We tell young people, ‘you’re going to be great someday’,” Jones said. “But young people are ready to change the world, and they’re doing it – right now. This idea that young people are the future is a lie. Young people are not the future. They are our most powerful resource for cultural and systemic change.”

Capital – and Questions

The topic of the 49th St. Gallen Symposium was “Capital for Purpose.” But another theme emerged over the course of three days: developing uncertainty. As faith in capitalism across the world rapidly erodes, the present and future leaders gathered at the symposium asked each other some crucial questions: Are we living through the beginning of the end of capitalism? And if so, what other forces might fill the vacuum left behind?

Few people at the symposium were willing to completely abandon a system that has, successfully for the most part, fulfilled its purpose for centuries. But everyone acknowledged some difficult truths. If capitalism is to survive, it must be reshaped to alleviate crises like inequality and climate change. To do so, we must get businesses to redefine their purpose and change direction.

In their welcome address, symposium chairmen Dominic Barton, McKinsey & Company Global Managing Partner Emeritus, and Goldman Sachs Vice-Chairman Lord Griffiths of Fforestfach touched on these themes, setting the tone for discussions to come.

For Lord Griffiths, the key questions we need to ask ourselves couldn’t be more basic: “Why do I exist? And how do I integrate the purpose of my life into my business?”

Barton, on the other hand, delivered a full-throated defense of capitalism, a system he argued we need more than ever even as public confidence in it has slipped. “It is the source of solving issues [like] climate change,” he said. “But … trust and confidence in capitalism has dropped.”

With such complex questions about the future at its heart, it was fitting that the symposium started with a speaker who tried to draw lessons from the past. Niall Ferguson, Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, said many young people are only superficially aware of the history of capitalism and socialism – and often confuse socialism with social democracy.

From Ferguson’s long-term perspective, capitalism carries an inevitable cost with it. “The choice is clear: one has to decide whether one wants to go for growth and innovation and accept a greater level of inequality, or whether one wants to have a more egalitarian society,” he said. “That’s the central trade off, and democracy is the way we make that decision.”

“One has to decide whether one wants to go for growth and innovation and accept a greater level of inequality, or whether one wants a more egalitarian society.”
— Niall Ferguson

Evolution or Revolution

As participants launched into two days of intense debate and exchange, that assertion was questioned over and over again. Participants suggested capitalism must adapt to survive, incorporating more social responsibility. Decision makers clashed over the best way to ensure capitalism remains the correct model for addressing society’s evolving needs. During the ‘Bridging capital and purpose: the way forward’ discussion, top executives laid out competing visions of capitalism.

Tracy Blackwell, Chief Executive Officer of the UK-based Pension Insurance Corporation, cautioned the symposium against radical action in the quest to realign capitalism’s social compass. “We all talk about what doesn’t work,” she said. “We spend very little time talking about what does. Billions of people have been lifted out of poverty because of the allocation of capital.”

This more cautious stance was echoed by Credit Suisse’s International Wealth Management division CEO, Iqbal Khan. “We need to keep in mind that if you want to have capital and purpose align and combine, it has to be sustainable – it has to have a rate of return that is acceptable to the investors,” Khan said.

In contrast, some envisioned a more radical path. Tom Kibasi, Director of the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), advocated harnessing capitalism’s power to tackle major social and environmental issues. “Capitalism and democracy exist to serve society, not the other way around,” Kibasi reminded the audience.

The existential threats of climate change and environmental destruction, recurring themes throughout the symposium, merited immediate utilisation of capital. Kibasi said: “We need to put the global economy on a war footing to tackle this challenge.”

Healthy Friction

The action at the symposium was often offstage: Dozens of small group sessions fostered intense exchange. Such intergenerational conversations, which Credit Suisse Global Marketing and Brand Communications head Steven Althaus called “healthy friction,” set the symposium apart from other forums. It wasn’t just top leaders who had lessons to teach. The Leaders of Tomorrow had a message too. “Making money is not how we envision purpose,” said Anand Ankit, an Indian filmmaker based in Zurich. “We want to see an impact in society.” Two days of debate forced everyone to think more deeply. One thing was quite clear: Over the course of three days, people formed new bonds, expanded their networks, and began a conversation that will keep the spirit of the symposium alive long after the last guests leave.

In case you missed it
  • Two Leaders of Tomorrow, Rafaela Requesens from Venezuela and Majd Almashharawi from Palestine were unable to attend the symposium due to unrest in their countries — a reminder that many regions in the world continue to be volatile and unsafe.
  • A large installation of a whale made with plastic bottles placed in the middle of the piazza brought the issue of pollution and waste into sharp relief.
  • “I wish for my country that we concentrate more of our political energy on what we could bring to the world, rather than how we can effectively close our borders.” — Peter Wuffli, elea Foundation for Ethics in Globalisation
  • “I want to get more involved in start-ups. You have to be brain-dead to sit in a room with all these young Leaders of Tomorrow and not get fired up.” — Dominic Barton, McKinsey & Company


Social, human, and financial capital must be deployed to tackle the most pressing concerns of the modern world. Leaders of Tomorrow seek purpose and want to make an impact. Business leaders who fail to adapt to changing realities won’t last.

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