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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No robots need apply

If you earn your living by playing music, waging war, gardening or driving a car, watch your back! The “robots are coming for your jobs” mantra hovered over the symposium for three days, and participants had to deal with a disturbing thought: “What if I am soon replaced by a set of cables and buttons named Tom?” All jobs could be automated sooner or later. The good news is that certain occupations will stay out of Tom’s reach for still some time.

Cleaning Lady

Yes, cleaning ladies. There is a widespread belief that jobs requiring physical labour will be the first to fall into robotic hands. However, there are exceptions. Using the vacuum cleaner, arranging books, picking up toys from the floor, and cooking pasta is, for now, too much for one robot to take on. “Paradoxically, automation will not get to the cleaning ladies for many years,” says leading
AI researcher Dileep George. “We can envision single-purpose robots for specific tasks, but we have not yet developed the technology to face variable situations and multiple activities.”
An all-encompassing cleaning robot is not yet technically feasible; it might not be wanted, even if it existed. In the ‘50s, sociologist Warner Bloomberg conceived of a fully-automated home-based roasting process. As explained in a study conducted by Anna Salomons from Utrecht University and David Autor from MIT, the idea never took off. “No matter how intelligent new technologies are, if they do not generate human demand, they become smart garbage,” University of St. Gallen business Professor Caspar Hirschi wrote in an essay for Primer, a collection of background pieces prepared for the 48th St. Gallen Symposium and available online.

Potus et al.

“The President of the United States,” someone who used to work one door down from the Oval Office answered when asked which job will never be replaced by robots. His differences with Barack  Obama’s successor have not changed the views of Denis McDonough, Obama’s former chief of staff: A robot cannot be trusted with the nuclear codes. “Politicians are safe, provided they do uniquely human things,” he laughs. “Cognitive things? That is a different question.”
Even if a robot capable of dealing with the unpredictability of politics was invented, would people vote for him? “Robots can lead to augmented decision making, but I do not think we would ever accept being governed by them,” argues Chlöe Swarbrick, the youngest member of the New Zealand Parliament. “If the robot gets it wrong, who would you blame? The robot?”

Huarache Maker

Huaracheros (traditional Mexican shoemakers) design and make huaraches, hand-crafted leather sandals whose design predates Columbus’ arrival in the Americas. “Each huarache is different. They are valuable, because they are unique and have a story behind them,” explains Celia Ramírez, who coordinates a centre for entrepreneurship in Jalisco, Western Mexico. She is now training a group of women to upscale their production of huaraches, increasingly popular among trendy young people. Bob Bland, fashion designer and founder of the Women’s March, also points at the challenges faced by robots when working with “anything soft”: “I saw entire companies come in with all this technology and treat us, fashion professionals, as if we were stupid. They came to see that it was not possible to replicate what the humans were doing,” recalls Bland, “and certainly for artisanal techniques it is even more so. I have yet to see a robot able to sew a simple dress.”


The Cambridge dictionary defines an intellectual as “a person whose life or work centres around the study or use of ideas, such as in teaching or writing.” Could a robot ever be a recipient of a  Nobel Prize in Literature? For John Ralston Saul, one of Canada’s most prominent thinkers and a former president of PEN International, the answer is a clear no: “Machines are irrelevant. They are basically shards of memory, that interweave elements and try to draw conclusions,” Saul points out. “But they are completely missing the mutability of imagination, and the nature of intuition and common sense.”
An intellectual defending the relevance of intellectuals is no surprise, some would argue. Yet Akash Gupta, founder of GreyOrange, an Indian start-up in the field of robotics, also acknowledges the limitations of the machines he creates. “Robots might be able to have conversations, but these will be very objective, not emotional. That will be very hard to achieve,” he admits. Intellectuals can breathe a sigh of relief.

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