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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How basic science sometimes yields big results

Upon meeting a Nobel Prize winner, particularly in the field of physiology or medicine, there is a degree of expectation. Surely, a lifetime of dedication and hard work will have been inspired by the pursuit of a material outcome, a mission with a clear end goal.

The tale of Professor Yoshinori Ohsumi, who won the prestigious prize in 2016, is a little different. Ohsumi, now a professor at Tokyo Institute of Technology’s Institute of Innovative Research, never actively sought to cure cancer, develop a groundbreaking medication, or solve an existential crisis facing humanity. His driving force – his purpose – has simply been to understand.

This innate curiosity led to over thirty years of research, largely on single-celled yeast organisms. His goal was to reveal how recycling occurs at a cellular level to help maintain life’s delicate equilibrium.
The research revealed highly regulated mechanisms that allow cells to recycle their contents during periods of stress and discard malfunctioning components, a process called autophagy.
At the outset of Ohsumi’s career, many of his peers were unconvinced of the field’s value. “When I started researching autophagy, it was not a hot area of research within cell biology,” he says. “People thought this was a passive and unimportant process.”

Now, decades after his initial work in the field, this understanding of how cells recycle and regulate their contents is seen as a way to understand certain disease processes. “Now autophagy is a hot topic because it might play a role in cancer or neurodegenerative disease, but I never had such a prediction or hope when I started my work,” Ohsumi says.

This humble desire to simply comprehend, without an overarching mission or conclusion, is not, however, an approach free of complications or drawbacks.With governments increasingly unwilling to meet the costs of research into the basic sciences, and pharmaceutical and bio-engineering companies seeking the promise of profitable returns on investments, there is an increasing demand for researchers to show their work will have useful, “bench-to-bedside” applications.

“When I started researching autophagy, it was not a hot area of research within cell biology.”

Shortsighted Science

Ohsumi says that such disdain for basic science is shortsighted. “I took thirty years to understand this process, so it takes a long time and we cannot predict what we will find,” he says. “I had very good support from the government, but these days financial backers want to know that there is a clear end result – there is more support for application-oriented science.”

Whilst it appears that his work may yet lead to such applications, Ohsumi wants to encourage more researchers to focus on basic science, in order to shape the building blocks of future scientific innovation. He recently set up the Ohsumi Frontier Science Foundation, an organisation that supports researchers in their quest to understand the fundamentals of basic science, free from the constraints of having to deliver results with immediately obvious applications. “I want society to think that basic science is very important for humanity,” he explains, “and that utility is not the most important metric for evaluating scientific work.”

Beyond the comprehension of basic science, and the potential for medical breakthroughs as a result, Ohsumi is convinced that cellular biology can yield more abstract lessons for humanity.

An increasing focus on the impact of climate change, and recognition of the need for better marshalling of humanity’s resources, has reinforced his belief that society can learn lessons from how our bodies manage their resources. “Our body is a really efficient recycling system – most of the protein that exists in our body comes from  proteins that previously existed in our body,” he says. “Our bodies adjust synthesis and degradation depending on the situation. I think, and I hope, that society can learn from the way our bodies regulate the breakdown and creation of materials.”

Patient Desire

The St Gallen Symposium is an event where many of the attendees are clearly driven by a focus on noble pursuits with tangible outcomes; environmental salvation, gender equality and socially conscious investment and entrepreneurship have been dominant themes this year.

Ohsumi’s quest to understand the basic principles of biological science is not as immediately attention-grabbing. The concepts at play are harder to grasp. His recognition as a Nobel Laureate suggests, however, that such work, with no loftier ambition than to clarify the nebulous, should be prized by society. In our quest to find purpose, both individually and as a society, perhaps we can learn lessons from Ohsumi’s patient desire to simply understand the world around us.

Basic science may not promise immediate results, but the understanding it provides is crucial to eventually developing cures and other practical outcomes.

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