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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NFTs for Social Impact: Addressing Three Key Challenges

Initially discounted as a passing fad, the market for non-fungible tokens (NFTs) has surged. To unlock the full potential of NFTs for novel use cases, including charitable fundraising and environmental conservation, some key challenges need to be urgently addressed.

Just over a year ago, Mike Winkelmann’s “EVERYDAYS: The First 5000 Days,” a collage of work by the artist also known as Beeple, sold at Christie’s for $69.3 million. The artwork took the form of a non-fungible token (NFT) – a unique digital asset that contains identifying information recorded via smart contracts verified and held on a blockchain. While this was not the first NFT sold by Christie’s, it represented a “watershed moment” in the world of art and collectables not only in setting a record for the most expensive work sold online, but in firmly elevating a discourse that bridges sectors, generations and geographies. 

Initially discounted as a passing fad, the market for NFTs surged to 44.2 billion USD by the end of 2021. In comparison, the size of the global fine art market is estimated at 50 billion USD. The popularity of NFTs grew dramatically in 2021, with use case opportunities reaching far beyond art and collectables, ranging from supply chain traceability, to sports ticket authentication, to charitable fundraising and environmental conservation. However, these opportunities are accompanied by key challenges including climate implications and, I suggest, amplifying a long-standing digital divide.

What Are NFTs?

NFTs are tokenised versions of real-world objects like works of art, or unique assets created in the digital world, that can be traded on a blockchain. NFTs have been around since 2014, used for digital gaming and collectables including still popular versions that emerged in 2017 such as Crypto Punks. They have evolved in use cases to represent virtual or physical assets (ranging from art to luxury accessories and from endangered species to land for conservation). NFTs can be 2D, 3D images, programmable art, traditional art, AI-generated or enabled art, avatars, memes, music, virtual fashion garments, in-game items and videos – the opportunities are seemingly endless. This is because NFTs are not the assets themselves, but a sort of digital passport or immutable, irreplicable certificate of ownership allowing them to be bought and sold – including with rights and even revenue parameters that are automatically executed or controlled via smart contracts.

NFTs are changing the way we perceive and register ownership of assets, offering new opportunities and innovative business models. For example, artists can embed stipulations on royalties to ensure they receive some of the proceeds every time a piece is resold. Musicians can enable deeper engagement with their fans by providing perks or media bonuses. Luxury brands can leverage NFTs to trace physical items across their entire lifecycle to provide authenticity, to sell early access to new products, and even to offer virtual luxury products to consumers in the metaverse, building loyalty across a new digital generation.

Celebrities have entered the NFT realm, from Grimes to William Shatner and from Quentin Tarantino to Tony Hawke. Momentum has bridged genres and generations (even posthumously as with Stan Lee). Some celebrities are making targeted statements on issues of importance to them. For example, Kate Moss and Cara Delevinge released NFTs related to the theme of female empowerment and donated the funds to a related charity. In fact, charitable giving has become a foundational element of many notable figures entering the realm of NFTs. For example Jack Dorsey, the co-founder and former CEO of Twitter, sold his first tweet as an NFT for 2.9 million USD, donating the proceeds to Covid relief. The examples have grown too numerous to list but the point remains that NFTs have allowed celebrities to leverage their status not only to raise funds but to build awareness of issues and organisations they support.

Likewise not-for-profit organisations are leveraging NFTs as a new form of fundraising for their activities. Here again, initiatives bridge a growing landscape of geographies and audiences. Museums are selling NFTs of their archives, photos and physical assets to raise funds while charities are collaborating with artists for awareness building and fundraising on impact initiatives ranging from supporting girls education to climate action. Environmental organisations are auctioning digital art or photo NFTs representing endangered species with some linking to real time updates on progress and transparency on the use of proceeds – engaging a new generation that wants to witness and even participate in the impact. NFT platforms dedicated to impact such as DoinGud – have evolved to enable creators to donate a portion of their proceeds directly to a social impact organisation. Likewise, dedicated crypto platforms such The Giving Block link to NFT platforms to allow direct donations from sales and even help organisations navigate the related tax issues. All of these cross pollinations are providing an opportunity for impact organisations to expand their donor base across generations and geographies. 

Challenges: Energy, Narrowing Lens on Impact and Amplifying Digital Divides 

NFTs can mean financial empowerment and agency for many individuals, companies and organisations, but these opportunities are accompanied by new risks and challenges, including the hotly debated climate impact as well as an amplification of the digital divide.

NFTs are usually sold and purchased on dedicated digital marketplaces leveraging blockchain technology and most of these are minted on or interact with Ethereum – which uses the energy intensive Proof of Work consensus process (i.e. cryptocurrency mining). Organisations leveraging NFTs – particularly those for environmental fundraising – are facing increasing backlash given that the Ethereum has an energy consumption of a small country such as Finland. While blockchain platforms like Ethereum and NFT platforms such as NiftyGateWay are working on transitions to the more energy efficient Proof of Stake mechanism, artists and organisations are caught up in the dilemma with many advocating for systemic change.

The first line of defence has been a focus on offsetting (to compensate for the GHG emissions from the energy consumed and to provide impact visibility on the remedy). While the NFT criticisms illustrate a more nuanced understanding of the implications of different blockchain platforms, the focus on calculating and offsetting the carbon footprint – to borrow a phrase – is like brushing your teeth while still eating cookies. In addition, the footprint dialogue risks creating tunnel vision on climate issues and solutions and diverts from other implications including an amplification of the digital divide. In the current paradigm, it is the charities and initiatives that leverage celebrity champions, or that are tech and social media savvy as well as digitally connected that benefit. 

While some barriers have been broken down, generational and gender gaps remain steadfastly in place with young men benefiting more on both production and consumption. In addition, while NFTS may be geographically untethered, there are geographic divides in digital literacy and power concentration with a clear user gap for East Asia, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa as well as for Indigenous and remote communities. This does not necessarily mean that funds do not flow to benefit these communities and organisations, but the definition of impact as well as distribution of funds risk being defined by largely Western frameworks and actors. Moreover, these parameters risk being embedded digitally and therefore presenting as neutral. There are clear examples of digital and business model innovation that can benefit these communities but only when defining the challenges and building solutions with them directly rather than from embedded structures and processes.

This is not an accusation of greenwashing, but rather a call to attention of the new intercultural tensions and gaps that risk being embedded across generations, genders and geographies. This is a call for responsible collaborative innovation with attention to the dialogue gaps including on the definition of impact.

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