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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“Real Leaders Accept Risking Unpopularity by Taking Decisions They Believe to Be Right”

An In-depth, Cross-Generational Conversation with Frederik Willem de Klerk

In this exclusive interview with Leader of Tomorrow Grégoire RoosPresident Frederik de Klerk, former South African President, Nobel Peace laureate and one of Africa’s most senior statesmen, talks about his fight to put an end to the apartheid regime in South Africa. He also discusses his close relationship, both personal and political, with Nelson Mandela, and stresses the importance of mutual trust to successfully conduct complex political negotiations and why trust is instrumental to enable national reconciliation.

Grégoire Roos: You were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993, jointly with Nelson Mandela, for your efforts in bringing apartheid down in South Africa, after 300 years of segregation. When asked about how you felt about winning the Prize, you humbly said that you were not expecting it, as serving in cabinets (1978-1989) under the presidency of two staunch supporters of apartheid (John Vorster and Pieter Botha) may have disqualified you. What signal did the Nobel Peace Committee want to send the world? That the courage of the present could outweigh the choices of the past?

Frederik de Klerk: Good question. I think the Nobel Committee wanted to send a message that peace making very often involves parties that are not internationally popular, but that their active involvement in the peace process, however, is essential in the resolution of disputes. The Nobel Committee also wished to give recognition to the indisputable steps that we had already taken to achieve a negotiated solution to the problems that had divided us for so many years.

Roos: On 2 February 1990, exactly 1 year after your election as leader of the ruling National Party, and less than 5 months after being sworn in as State President of South Africa, you announced a series of historic measures, including the rescinding of the notorious 1953 Reservation of Separate Amenities Act (which provided for racial segregation in public premises and services) and the liberation of political prisoners (first amongst whom Nelson Mandela). While some in your own camp voiced their concerns for the speed with which you wanted to proceed (if not their complete opposition), the black leaders (especially influential clerics like Alan Boesak, Frank Chikane and Desmond Tutu) doubted the truth of your convictions (“it’s just musical chairs” Tutu said on your election)… How much of a challenge was it to push for such historic, bold and courageous change with so little trust and support from both your majority and the opposition? 

De Klerk: Well to be honest it is not true that my party and my broader constituency did not support my initiative to promote the constitutional transformation. I was elected leader of the National Party (NP) on 2 February 1989 by an NP caucus that clearly wanted change. We fought the September 1989 election on a broadly transformationist platform. The steps that I announced on 2 February 1990 had been discussed in broad terms with our caucus and had been agreed to by the cabinet. When I asked the white electorate for a mandate to continue with the negotiations in March 1992, I received the support of almost 70% of the voters.  It is true, however, that throughout this period, about 30% of the white electorate opposed our policies. But they had already broken away from the National Party in 1982 – a development that actually greatly assisted those of us in the NP who wanted a new constitutional dispensation. As for the rest, to be frank, the initial sceptical response of our opponents arose primarily from the distorted perspectives of the NP that had been developed by their own propaganda. 

Roos:  Some said you surrendered. Others that you converted… Is it the fate of great leaders to have to suffer from an antagonising legacy -having to endure the mistrust of those who feel betrayed?

De Klerk: Today I am criticised bitterly and unfairly by the right for having ‘‘sold out” white South Africans… and from the ANC [African National Congress, South Africa’s ruling party] and EFF [Economic Freedom Fighters, radical left movement and South Africa’s third largest party] for having committed crimes against humanity and for never having had genuine motives for initiating the transformation process.  They claim that I had no alternative and was forced to do so by the ANC’s armed struggle and sanctions.  This is nonsense.  In my view, if you are criticised by extremists on both sides it is probably a sign that you did the right thing.

Roos: You rank on the short list of world leaders who enabled a peaceful political transition without bloodshed… What is power without moral leadership?

De Klerk: I would say it is critically important for leaders to assess their own situations from a moral perspective as honestly and dispassionately as possible.  By the mid-1980s, my colleagues and I had concluded that the policies we had inherited from the past had caused unacceptable injustices to the Black, Coloured and Indian populations of South Africa. We also had to admit that the solutions that we originally supported had no chance whatsoever of leading to a just solution for all our people. It was the awareness of the moral imperative of adopting an approach that would bring justice to all our people that was the driving force behind our decision to transform South Africa. So what is power without moral leadership? Leading without compass, therefore leading without direction. In other words, not leading at all…

Roos: What part of loneliness and solitude should one be willing to accept to defend what one believes to be right and just?

De Klerk: As I mentioned earlier, I had broad support from the cabinet, the caucus and my electoral base for the transformation policies on which we had embarked. In this sense I was not alone, at least from a political standpoint. However, ultimately all leaders are confronted by the very lonely challenge of risking unpopularity by taking decisions they believe to be right.  Real leaders accept this challenge, yes.

Frederic de Klerk and Nelson Mandela receive the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo in 1993.

Roos: Your relationship with Mandela turned into a sincere friendship of mutual respect, although it didn’t go without lows and strains (about the Truth & Reconciliation Commission for instance): what kept you together (until 1996) in spite of the disagreements and of the pressure of the political context of the time?

De Klerk: Both of us realised at critical stages in the transformation process that we would have to work together if we wished to keep constitutional negotiations on track.  Such occasions arose in September 1992 when the ANC’s decision to boycott the negotiations was leading to serious and unmanageable levels of confrontation.  Again, in April 1993, after the assassination of Chris Hani [Secretary general of the South African Communist Party and one of the leaders of the ANC’s armed branch], we had to work together to restore calm, which was essential to prevent an eruption of mass violence. In the final stages of the negotiations, we came together once again to resolve seemingly intractable logjams in the talks. So I would say that our common concern to prevent further division within society and prevent South Africa from falling into the abyss of violence was instrumental in keeping Mandela and me united.

Roos: On the day of your first (secret) encounter, in December 1989, Mandela spoke of his admiration for the Boer generals who had fought the British 100 years earlier. Was this a determinant factor in how trust started to grow between you?

De Klerk: Yes, I think you’re right. The fact that Nelson Mandela had taken the trouble to study our history and showed respect for our heroes undoubtedly helped to promote mutual trust.

Roos: The most extremist fringe of your supporters got close to outflanking you both. What made you keep trust in one another over the years? 

De Klerk: We both realised that we could not allow extremists of any kind to sabotage the negotiations. Nelson Mandela realised that I was the only leader who would be able to secure majority support for constitutional transformation among white South Africans. And on our end, we realised that Mandela was the only leader on the ANC side who had the moral authority to persuade his widely diverse coalition of the need to make the compromises that peace always requires.

Roos: What was more challenging: keeping Mandela’s and the ANC’s trust or your own party’s and that of the State apparatus?

De Klerk: Let’s put it this way: the first task of any leader is to ensure that his support base is secure. Without this he will simply not enjoy the trust of his opponents. You need to convey the feeling that you’re relying on two solid feet; otherwise you’ll have no credibility, and will never give your opponents arguments and reasons to trust you. 

Roos: We all remember this historic image of Mandela, then President of South Africa, entering Ellis Park Stadium wearing the Springboks Rugby shirt No. 6 during the Rugby World Cup final in 1995: is this what true reconciliation is about? Making a bit of the culture of the enemy of yesterday your own, so as to make one? Is this what it takes to be “lifted out of the silent grief of our past” (in the words of Afrikaner poet N.P. van Wyk Louw, whom you quoted in your Nobel acceptance speech)?

De Klerk: Indeed. Nelson Mandela’s greatest contribution to the new South Africa is the manner in which he worked for national reconciliation. I should stress, however, that relationships between communities – like any relationships between human beings – require constant attention, communication and consideration.  Without these factors they can quickly unravel.  Unfortunately, recent leaders of the ANC have done very little to follow Mandela’s example.

Roos: Why does this seem so difficult today, in the US and Europe in particular, who seem more socially and politically divided than ever? Have we renounced the price of trust?

De Klerk: I would say that it is mostly due –and we go back to a point I stressed earlier- to the distorted vision we have of our opponents. In Europe, the United States and South Africa, the perspectives of too many people have become distorted by the ideological stereotypes they have developed of their opponents – stereotypes that are too often reinforced by the echo chambers of social and mainline media. The stereotypes that the ANC has developed of white South Africans for instance – that are rooted in widely different perceptions of our history – are deepening divisions between us. The same is true of visceral divisions in the United States between supporters and opponents of President Trump – and in the UK between supporters and opponents of BREXIT. Does trust have a price? Perhaps. That of looking the other with honest eyes.

Roos: “Peace is a frame of mind”, you said in your Nobel acceptance speech… At a time when global peace seems wobblier than ever since the end of the Cold War, what does it take for our minds to keep this frame?

De Klerk: In my view, we must return to a more multilateral approach to international politics. Many of the situations that confront mankind – such as climate change, pandemics and equitable international trade – cannot be solved unilaterally even by the greatest powers. We need much closer international cooperation in these areas.  However, we also need to move toward a global consensus on common norms for international behaviour and, in particular, a genuine prohibition against the use of force by states and non-state actors, in the pursuit of their objectives.

Roos: Great leaders and peacemakers are often misjudged by their contemporaries. Do you trust posterity and the judgment of History?

De Klerk: Well… All leaders hope that they will be treated fairly by History – but as always, this will depend on who writes it! 

During his presidency from September 1989 until May 1994, President Frederik Willem de Klerk dismantled apartheid and initiated and presided over the inclusive negotiations that led to the adoption of South Africa’s first fully democratic Constitution in December 1993. In 1993, together with Nelson Mandela, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize “for their work for the peaceful termination of the apartheid regime, and for laying the foundations for a new democratic South Africa”. After the election on 27 April 1994, Mr De Klerk served as one of South Africa’s two Executive Deputy Presidents until 1996, when his party withdrew from the Government of National Unity. He retired from active politics in September 1997. In 1999 he published his autobiography, The Last Trek – A New Beginning, and established the FW de Klerk Foundation.

The Foundation upholds the Constitution through the work of its Centre for Constitutional Rights and promotes unity in diversity by working for cordial inter-community relations and national unity. Mr De Klerk is also the Chairman of the Global Leadership Foundation, established in 2004, whose panel of former presidents, prime ministers and statesmen provides discreet advice to heads of government on issues that concern them.

Grégoire Roos is a French geopolitical analyst, currently Visiting Fellow at the Globsec Policy Institute, and has been a Leader of Tomorrow of the St. Gallen Symposium ever since 2014.

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