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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Leaders of Tomorrow Fear a Corrosion of Shared Reality

76% of the young leaders surveyed for the Voices of the Leaders of Tomorrow Report 2021 consider it a pressing problem that the line between objective facts and subjective opinion is getting more and more blurred in the media.

On January 6, 2021, Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in Washington. They believed Joe Biden “stole” the election and with it the presidency. Trump himself had been stoking anger with this claim for months, but the vast majority of elected officials, judges and election observers disagreed. They found no evidence of irregularities or fraud. The election was recognized as legitimate. But many Trump supporters continued to believe in fraud.

The unprecedented plethora of disinformation and lies that marked Trump’s presidency (The Washington Post Fact Checker, 2021) had therefore culminated in the shocking and – fortunately – failed insurrection that many had believed impossible in the USA. While the coup attempt failed, at least five people died in connection with the storming of the Capitol. It has further divided America, with both sides claiming moral and constitutional superiority.

Increasing Acceptance of Disinformation and Lies

The key issue in this event is that it is not a matter of differing views, but of questioning hard facts that have been backed by various highly regarded sources and institutions beyond suspicion of corruption. Consensus on objective events, on the integrity of formerly esteemed sources, on reality itself, is crumbling. The USA is only one example.

This development can be observed – to varying degrees – in many countries around the world. And the problem seems to be growing. False claims have become “alternative facts” and are often trivialized rather than called what they really are: outright lies.

In a digitally connected world, the spread of misinformation has reached an unforeseen dynamic. The internet makes it easy for more and more people to spread their own opinions or content of dubious origin as factual reports. And social media algorithms accelerate the spread of whatever content is liked within certain bubbles, fueling the construction of peculiar explanations and parallel “realities” where any contradicting news is reflexively labeled “fake news.”

In fact, a strange contrast has developed as a result of the global digitalization of communication: While the world’s different cultures are moving closer together through networks, communities and collaboration, groups with different perceptions of reality are moving further away from each other, regardless of spatial proximity or distance. Facts are denied and twisted if they don’t fit into one’s worldview. The majority of the Leaders of Tomorrow surveyed for this year’s Voices of the Leaders of Tomorrow Report – a collaboration of the Nuremberg Institute for Market Decisions (NIM) and the St. Gallen Symposium –  also see this development and perceive it as a huge problem.Image

A total of 76% agree with the statement “In general, lying and distorting facts seem to have become more accepted” and see it as a pressing problem. Just as many assess the blurring of facts and opinions as a pressing problem of our time.

Tommy Koh, a young civil servant from Singapore, emphasizes the relevance of the issue: “The erosion of commonly held truths is the most existential threat to modern democracy. If there are no common facts, there is no common understanding. How might we tackle misinformation while being sensitive to race, class, gender, and other forms of discrimination? There are no easy solutions. But hoping for a return to pre-constructivist beliefs where central bodies decide what is factual is neither palatable nor fair. I suspect the way forward requires us to pay attention to social cohesion. Trust and human connection are deeply coupled. If our interactions with others decay, the bubbles we live in will contain us in a subjective reality. This prevents us from understanding and empathizing with others, which in turn leads to trust decay. Left unchecked, trust decay will lead to truth decay and a loss of governability.”

Reliability of and Trust in Media

Is the fake news problem limited to the internet? The press and new media are often referred to as the fourth power in democratic societies. While not an official part of the political system, their social influence is strong. For this reason alone, journalists should feel obliged to keep to the truth. Nevertheless, fake news, that is, deceptions and their dissemination – sometimes deliberate, sometimes even in good faith – have obviously become an omnipresent problem for trust. So, which media have the biggest problem in this regard, and which receive comparatively few accusations of fake content? The Leaders of Tomorrow take a clear stand here as well.

Newspapers are apparently regarded as the most trustworthy media. Nearly 70% agree that they carry fake news only sometimes at most, and only 25% believe that this happens frequently.

Unfortunately, it is exactly this most trusted news source that has been losing subscribers and revenue to the new, more polarizing social media sources over at least the last two decades. The exact opposite is the case with social media. In total, 90% of all survey participants report that fake news frequently circulates there. This number is not much lower for video channels and private networks on the internet (83% and 74%). All traditional media – that is, TV and news magazines in addition to the above-mentioned newspapers – perform significantly better than online media.

This scathing criticism of social media is remarkable because, after all, Leaders of Tomorrow are digital natives. And apparently, they view their own generation as a whole as too uncritical in this regard, as the following results show.

Criticism of Own Generation’s Relationship with Social Media

The Leaders of Tomorrow consider their own generation to be too gullible when it comes to social media and peer-to-peer networks. They criticize them sharply. A total of 69% agree with the statement ”My generation has too much (blind) faith in the news spread by social media.” More than 50% consider this blind trust not only a given, but also an urgent problem.

They also think that their own generation tends to rely a lot on information by friends and peers. More than 70% agree with the statement ”Trust in information distributed by official news channels is often lower than trust in information spread by like-minded people or peers,” and 46% consider it a pressing problem.

Fake Information Detection

Even highly educated people like the Leaders of Tomorrow need to ask themselves how they can actually distinguish real facts from fake information. An open question gave them an opportunity to share how they personally approach this issue.

The most frequent methods mentioned by more than 40% of the respondents are checking the reference and/or comparing multiple sources respectively. The third most popular method, stated by 27% of respondents, is to rely only on trustworthy, official, reputable sources such as scientific magazines, newspapers, state channels, etc. In other words, solely reports from trusted media sources are read or at least taken seriously. This method may seem too simple at first glance.

Ultimately, however, the question arises as to whether it is even possible to check the primary data sources in each and every domain. Discussing and verifying information with other people (e.g., experts, friends) or using their common sense and life experience as well as critical and logical thinking is stated by about 15%. Nearly 10% check whether the content is sponsored (and therefore potentially biased), or look out for characteristics like tone of messaging, sensation, grammar, etc. On average, respondents who answered the question use two different methods to protect themselves against fake news. Whether these measures are sufficient to prevent people from being stuck inside their own filter bubbles, however, is debatable.

Read the full Voices of the Leaders of Tomorrow Report here for all findings and detailed analysis.

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