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 the Trust Economy Could Benefit Us All

We need to move from an economy built on distrust towards a Trust Economy.

Everybody has a plan – until they don’t. In a hypercomplex and equally connected world, expecting the unexpected is prudent. Except that politically, environmentally and now epidemiologically, we didn’t see global issues coming until they were all too real. As a Trust Futurist, I believe our choices reveal what we value and trust. Psychologists will tell you that this is often short-term gain at the expense of our long-term future, but the last thing you and I need right now is a pessimist stance. We need a plan.

We seem to have learned from the global financial crisis in 2007/2008 that waiting out a crisis by looking the other way is about the worst posture we can assume. Currently, some airlines and hotels are issuing refunds they don’t have to, retailers in many places are donating items they could sell, and news publications are lifting their paywalls to keep us informed. Tough times like these call upon us to set aside individual differences and do what is right for the greater good. Every initiative we take to help will ease our shared global burden. It means relying on governments alone to bail us out of the situation isn’t going to do the job. We should embrace the unifying power of a common enemy to proactively come up with creative solutions in our fight against this pandemic. 

Why Exiting This Crisis Will Require a New Mindset Centered Around Trust

Many societies rely too heavily on distrust-driven measures to regulate behaviour, i.e. constraining people with penalties or prohibitions. Self-control and following rules aren’t one and the same, because the former requires that we care. Until recently, the distrust economy got away with the notion that rules are all we need – i.e. if we acted selfishly in the market, that would suffice to create collective gain.

The courage to embrace something new and willingness to collaborate will require us to trust each other and our shared contribution to the solution. Using sharing economy platforms to do business with each other has helped us discover hidden value and purpose, build relationships and get stuff done more effectively. When we look at the sharing mindset that this Trust Economy has inspired us to adopt in recent years, the benefits are obvious. Many digital platforms we use facilitate interhuman trust very frictionlessly. Peer ratings, community rules and smart algorithms take care of the distrusting for us, so we can focus on trusting each other. We can use digital to inspire people to adopt the right behaviour with joy and ease, beyond those cumbersome compliance forms. 

The Promise of the Trust Economy

I’m not just a Trust Futurist, I’m also an eternal optimist, and I believe nobody enjoys distrusting or being distrusted. One of the biggest trends we’re seeing right now is that the Trust Economy is driving a relationship renaissance, re-humanising our mostly transactional global economy. Transparency, provenance and sustainability (knowing where things come from, and that they are made consciously) are demanded more than ever. They will ensure a fairer distribution of value, too. If you knew the person that made your T-Shirt, you’d probably agree that they deserve a fair compensation for their work. Win-win situations are more satisfying than win-lose dynamics. 

As humans we’re deeply wired to trust, bond together and treat each other fairly, but this gets complicated once financial capital and global markets enter the picture, allowing us to trade with anyone often even in the absence of a relationship. The less visible the individual, the less we are inclined to care about their end of the bargain. Say you put a dozen people that don’t know each other in a room, hand them twelve 10-dollar-notes and ask them to share among the group. How much do you think everyone gets? In the global economy, all value distribution is inherently skewed. It’s not sustainable, and it hardly feels great, even if you’re in the power position. Perhaps that’s why our incremental happiness gained through economic prosperity plateaus at middle-income level. Deep down we know others may have suffered for this prosperity of ours more than we’d like to know.

Bringing trust back into business in a big way is but one of the achievements of the Trust Economy, and it’s done us a big favour with it. We are born to trust and care for our tribes. Digital trust intermediaries enable us to scale that dynamic at virtually no cost. This should technically enable us to create a global village of inclusive socioeconomic progress, and create a future in which default mutual trust creates a streamlined and fairer global economic system. In fact, we already know that high-trust environments make us feel amazing – mutual trust stimulates our brain to synthesise the kind of hormones that makes us feel good. No wonder the world’s highest-performing teams operate on principles of high-trust.

But before we get carried away in that dream, reality will hit.

The Generational Divide on Digital Trust

We live in a world accustomed to inflationary, pathological distrust. Think security checks, contracts, compliance and so on. It’s necessary, but it wastes time and annoys most of us. All this bureaucracy effectively prevents important change, because its job is to protect the status quo. Global productivity gains per year have essentially been on the decline since the 1950s. While technology is advancing exponentially, we’re unable to do the same with productivity. 

So, distrust is creating a productivity and innovation ceiling. I call this the distrust epidemic. It’s ineffective and on top of that nobody really likes to distrust, we just got used to it. 

Encouragingly, we see the complete opposite across the digital economy. But all is not well. We all too willingly place our trust in digital interfaces, platforms and the data and technology powering them. Marketplaces and peer-to-peer business models have changed our behaviour and we nowadays easily trust strangers online. This caused a wave of over-trust in the digital economy. I mean, do you ever read website terms and conditions before clicking accept? 

I see two major problems with this. Our younger generations, meaning Gen Y, Z and whoever comes after this, increasingly and indiscriminately trust technology because it makes life easier to do so. Meanwhile Baby Boomers and Gen X are more sceptical and resist this somewhat. That disconnect between generations is likely to escalate. More senior generations expect trust to be earned, young folks trust fast and want to be trusted by default (until or unless they screw up.) This already causes lots of frustration inside organisations, because different generations have these different attitudes to trust and therefore data, technology and leadership. It’s a constant, dysfunctional blame game of ‘why don’t you trust me’ versus ‘why don’t you work towards earning my trust.’

Where to Go From Here?

Ironically, the distrust epidemic is currently being replaced by a digital trust epidemic. The trust-first camp will over trust and take far too high risks until (in the worst case) everything comes crashing down. This might lead them to lose everything and even cause major disasters (just think of the Cybersecurity issues we already have today!) Meanwhile, people and companies who embrace distrust as a first principle will keep adding more rules until it becomes impossible to compete. As the world gets ever more complex, they will eventually grind to a halt, suffocated by all that distrust.

We should endeavour to find a balanced middle way. Smart organisations are starting to realise that less rules can result in more compliance, and many innovative companies are showing that trust-first does not necessarily equal naive. A solution is for all camps to come to the table, understand each other’s different sentiments, find a healthy balance between too much and too little trust and establish common ground for a brighter future. 

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