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 Sufficiency-led Innovation Can Reshape Business Purpose 

In the dynamic landscape of modern markets, innovation often thrives at the crossroads of necessity and competition. Companies are compelled to innovate to stay ahead, whether it’s in creating novel products, streamlining processes, or redefining customer experience. Yet, the pursuit of innovation, while pivotal, is not always sustainable. The relentless quest for ‘more’ – more features, more speed, more growth – can lead to an inefficient use of natural resources, accelerating the triple planetary crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution.

This raises a fundamental question: how do we work to ensure that innovation creates value for the company and its customers, while positively contributing to a sustainable and fair use of natural resources? The answer may lie in the concept of sufficiency and its application to business innovation.

The latest IPCC Report defines sufficiency as “policy measures and daily practices that avoid the demand for energy, materials, water, and land, while providing wellbeing for all within planetary boundaries”. So far, sufficiency has primarily received attention as a strategy for climate mitigation (policy level) and sustainable consumption (individual level), while its relevance and potential impact on businesses has not yet been fully explored.

Traditionally, businesses have thrived on ever-increasing demand as a catalyst for growth, so sufficiency and business might be perceived as inherently contradictory or antagonistic concepts. This perception, however, is far from accurate. Sufficiency holds the potential to become a driver for innovation while reshaping businesses’ societal role and purpose. In doing so, it can enable new design ideas, drive improved customer relations, access new markets and foster long-term resilience.

A Catalyst for Business Innovation

To explore how sufficiency could fuel innovation within businesses, let’s start by looking at three key elements embedded in its definition:

  1. Avoid demand for energy, materials, water, and land: This calls for a strategic emphasis on dematerialisation, prompting a reduction in the demand for natural resources;
  2. Providing wellbeing for all: Sufficiency mandates the fulfilment of the needs of all human beings, advocating for a more inclusive and holistic approach;
  3. Within planetary boundaries: An integral dimension of strong sustainability, this element underscores the imperative of aligning actions with the finite capacities of our planet.

Starting from these three components, sufficiency prompts a revaluation of challenges and required solutions. Instead of elaborate, resource-intensive solutions, sufficiency encourages businesses to find innovative, leaner and more sustainable alternatives. This mindset may spark creativity, leading to services and products that prioritise sustainability and durability. As a result, sufficiency-led innovation can drive transformative business changes, particularly in three key areas.

Rethinking Innovative Product and Service Design

Sufficiency’s principle of satisfying human needs while reducing the demand for resources enables a profound revaluation of product and service design. This paradigm shift pushes businesses to focus on the need to be satisfied, rather than on the product itself. This redirection encourages a systems thinking approach, allowing businesses to explore innovative solutions to meet human needs effectively.

This shift in mindset from product-centric to need-centric not only aligns with the principles of sufficiency but also opens the door to creative problem-solving and ground-breaking innovations in product and service design. Moreover, this may facilitate the uptake of innovative product-as-a-service systems, where businesses can innovate by offering services that fulfil needs, rather than promoting the disposal of goods and creating ever more waste.

Strengthening Customer Relations

Sufficiency encourages a deep understanding of customer needs. Instead of perpetuating an environment of ever-growing consumption, sufficiency encourages businesses to establish deeper connections with customers, identifying their genuine needs and values. Innovation becomes about offering products and services that truly matter to customers, not just filling the market with more noise.

Rethinking customer relations through sufficiency opens a gateway to improved communication and a deeper connection with consumers. It’s an opportunity to not just sell products or services, but to inform and educate customers about the environmental impact of their consumption choices. In turn, this may enable customers to establish a deeper connection with what they consume and better maintain, repair and care for products. The transparency and educational approach can foster trust and loyalty, as consumers increasingly value companies that prioritise sustainability.

Accessing and Serving New Markets

There is still a huge portion of people globally whose needs are not being met. According to the World Bank, over 3 billion people live on less than $6.85 a day, representing a vast consumer base and business opportunity. Currently, low-income markets, due to their price sensitivity, often find themselves serviced by companies that prioritise affordability over sustainability. The cost-focused nature of these markets leads to the dominance of products and practices that are often the least sustainable—both environmentally and socially—with shorter lifespans, higher resource consumption, and lower quality.

However, sufficiency-driven business models challenge this paradigm, aiming to show that affordability and sustainability must not be mutually exclusive. By introducing innovations that prioritise resource efficiency, durability, and environmental responsibility, businesses may shift the focus from short-term affordability to long-term value. This approach isn’t just about selling more; it’s about addressing a significant segment of the population that has a huge potential to contribute to a company’s growth while simultaneously elevating their quality of life.

A New Purpose for Business

Sufficiency emphasises the responsibility of businesses to not only meet human needs but to do so responsibly within the planet’s ecological limits. It challenges the traditional notion of growth at all costs, urging businesses to consider their impact on society and the environment. Shifting the focus from fulfilling wants to meeting essential needs marks a transformative pivot in the innovation landscape for companies.

While resetting its role in society, sufficiency-led businesses might also become more resilient to market fluctuations and unexpected changes. By innovating and becoming more mindful of resource usage, in fact, businesses become more adaptable and potentially more resilient to sudden shifts in resource availability, economic downturns and changing customer preferences.

Opening the business doors to sufficiency, therefore, can be a valuable strategy for long-term value creation, that goes beyond a quick spike in sales. Integrating sufficiency into their business models, companies can drive a different kind of innovation – one that’s rooted in balance, sustainability and a unique value proposition.

WRF is an international non-profit organisation empowering collaboration to promote sustainability and fairness in the global use of natural resources. Through multi-stakeholder conferences, projects and publications, it strives to scale up knowledge and practical solutions able to make resource use a force for human wellbeing within planetary countries. WRF is located in St. Gallen, Switzerland and has a strong track-record of project implementation in Africa and Latin America.

The topic of sufficiency was featured as one of the three main conference tracks at the last World Resources Forum 2023 Conference (Geneva, 4-6 September, 2023).

Emanuele Di Francesco, Mathias Schluep, Rebecca Suhner, WRF

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