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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Letting vision take charge

When vision has a desk

The word vision has a biblical ring to it, evoking people crossing deserts and seas in search of unknown land. Or, mutatis mutandis, in search of a new solution – an app, a vaccine, a robot – to human needs. For Kim Sung-Joo, vision is not only a necessity in today’s increasingly automated world, it is also her job. She is the Chief Visionary Officer (CVO) of the Sungjoo Group, a multinational fashion business with 500 shops and 15,000 employees around the world. Her motto and that of her company is “Faith, Hope, Love,” based on her Christian beliefs. “My vision comes from God,” she says.

Despite being a frequent attendee at CEO-heavy and male-dominated business summits like the World Economic Forum in Davos, which she first attended as a Young Global Leader in 1997, she continues to stick out. The only CVO in attendance at the St. Gallen Symposium, she wears sneakers and jogging pants. The informal dress code puts her in line with some of today’s most famous visionaries, often dressed in hoodies à la Zuckerberg. During the Circle of Benefactors Dinner “all the men were looking at me – ‘how dare she?’” she laughs.

The visionary method

Kim, a scion of one of the country’s leading chaebol (industrial conglomerates) families, defied her father’s reluctance for her to enter business. She founded her company in 1990 and brought brands like Gucci and Marks & Spencer into South Korea. The turning point in her career came in 2005, when she bought MCM Holding, a German luxury brand. “I had no idea what to do, but I was convinced I could do it,” she says. “In the last ten years, Sungjoo Group has grown ten times bigger.”

Her method sounds simple. Every morning, she reads the Bible and prays. “I become Braveheart. Without praying I cannot be focused and, if you are not focused,you cannot see clearly.” And, it goes without saying, if you do not see clearly, you cannot be a CVO. Next comes what she calls a “global macro view,” which gets reflected in a “microscopic action plan,” thanks to a “collective effort.”

Four years ago, Kim felt her company was growing too fast. She took a step back and became head of the Korean Red Cross. The South Korean CVO claims that money is just “a tool to serve society.” “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism” by German sociologist Max Weber is her other “lifelong book,” besides the Bible. “Now, I am back and we are growing at 40-45% again.” The Sungjoo Group is currently going through a three-year long process of digital transformation to upgrade its e-commerce business and adapt to the new dynamics in the fashion industry, increasingly driven by millennial tastes. “After that, we will fly.”

CVOs are a rare species, not only at forums like the symposium, but also in the professional world. Kim says that is too bad. “‘CEO’ or ‘President’ are very boring titles. They come from the old school and are very authoritarian; top-down, very passé, gone,” Kim says.

A rare job title

Einar Stefferud, an American computer entrepreneur, is thought to have become the first CVO in 1994. Almost 25 years later, the term’s usage is still confined to certain sectors and countries. A  search on LinkedIn shows most CVOs work in the IT industry, followed by marketing and professional coaching. The United States is clearly the epicentre of the CVO trend. Canada and India lag far behind.

Is it a meaningful addition to the company’s governance or just a hollow title? “It can be both,” says Omid Aschari, professor of strategic management at the University of St. Gallen. “Vision is one of the key components of an executive, but if it is compartmentalised into a job, it can be difficult to disseminate to the rest of the top management.”

So can a singular vision be … blinding? “Vision has the function of aligning an organisation, but one needs to make sure the diversity of opinions is not ignored,” Aschari says.

Kim describes herself as a good listener. She’s an advocate of “horizontal leadership,” the latest buzzword for a non-hierarchical management style. “Being a leader is not day-to-day policing of what employees are doing. You have to tap into young people and the different departments. You need to be a sponge.”

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