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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Rebuilding Trust Between London and Brussels Will Not Be Easy

Having reached a deal with the EU on Christmas Eve, the UK will want to make use of its new-found freedom through deregulation. The agreement might also prompt Switzerland to reconsider its finalised, but unsigned, Framework Agreement with the EU.

The British people’s narrow “yes” to Brexit in the referendum of 23 June 2016 was initially not understood in Brussels. The EU’s leadership was too hurt and anxious about imitators. According to the Berlin daily “Der Tagesspiegel”, Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker und Parliament President Martin Schulz behaved like cuckolded husbands. The Brexiteers were accused of having deceived voters, and many in the EU hoped for a second referendum.

Voting until the ‘right’ outcome is achieved is a tried and tested EU method. However, the problems lie deeper. For a long time, the British had felt abandoned in the EU Council. When it came to regulating the financial and labour markets, France led the pack with its centralist and interventionist ideas and Germany agreed. Over time, the EU came to terms with the British leaving, and on Christmas Eve 2020, at the last possible moment, a deal was struck. The St. Gallen Symposium’s theme for 2021 is “Trust Matters”. The following considerations should be seen in the light of this maxim.

After Serious Upheavals Between Brussels and London, Rebuilding Trust Will Not Be Easy

The UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (“TCA”) is structured on a WTO basis. It includes provisions on free trade, investment, intellectual property, competition, energy, public procurement, subsidies, transport and logistics, fisheries and judicial cooperation in criminal matters. In addition, there are joint declarations on areas such as taxes or data protection. A Joint Partnership Council oversees the monitoring of the treaty. 

The basic principle of the EU’s Single Market is that competition may only be conducted with parameters such as price, quality, business conditions or sources of supply. The EU fears that the independent UK will rely on regulatory, i.e. systemic competition to attract business. In the TCA, the UK committed itself to safeguarding a robust level playing field by maintaining a high degree of protection in areas such as the environment, including combating climate change and carbon pricing, social and labour rights, tax transparency and state aid. The British also made a pledge to respect fundamental rights. Enforcement will occur on the domestic level. 

However, unlike the EU Member States and the EEA/EFTA States, the UK has the right to deviate from said standards in the future. That is the crucial point: the UK will want to make use of its new-found freedom through deregulation. However, if it goes too far and breaches its obligations, the agreement provides for the possibility of retaliation through the imposition of rebalancing, remedial, compensatory and safeguard measures. Given that the EU is continually issuing new regulations, a conflict may also arise if the UK does not follow suit. After the serious upheavals between Brussels and London, it will not be easy to rebuild trust. Perhaps on both sides of the Channel, the motto of a certain Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, better known by his alias Lenin, will be followed, according to which trust is good but control is better. 

Arbitration Could Be Decisive

Disputes will certainly arise between the parties, prompting the question of who will decide such cases. Theresa May’s government in summer 2018 accepted the so-called Ukraine mechanism which foresees that conflicts are decided by an “arbitration panel” undeserving of its name as it must ask the ECJ for a binding ruling whenever EU law or treaty law identical in substance to EU law is affected. This mechanism, which is found in the EU’s association agreements with four post-Soviet republics, is reminiscent of the unequal treaties that the Great Powers imposed on China, Japan and the Ottoman Empire in the 19th century. The Ukraine mechanism is part of the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement. The EU insisted on it also for the TCA and only gave in after fierce British resistance. Now a genuine three-member arbitration tribunal has jurisdiction to settle disputes. 

Consequences for Switzerland’s Framework Agreement With the EU

The Swiss Federal Council has politically accepted the Ukraine mechanism for the finalised, but unsigned, Framework Agreement with the EU. Originally, it even wanted to give the competence to decide disputes directly to the ECJ. Berne was not concerned with achieving a solution for Switzerland that respects sovereignty, but sought instead to create a “point of no return” on the road to EU membership. To achieve that goal, the Federal Council allowed the Foreign Ministry to run duplicitous campaigns. At the core were grotesque contentions, including that the ECJ could not “sentence” Switzerland but would only issue “advisory opinions”, and that judgments of the EFTA Court are not binding on EU States. The Commission had proposed Switzerland dock to the EFTA Surveillance Authority and the EFTA Court and to negotiate the right to nominate a member of these institutions for cases concerning the country – an idea rejected by the forces in the Swiss administration seeking EU accession. 

The Ukraine mechanism was created for post-Soviet and North African states. In the face of growing opposition, in the meantime the Federal Council has likely second thoughts. In October 2020, it made it clear that it does not want to take up the issue with the EU again. The question is whether the Government is prepared to reconsider this position in the light of the British success. Or whether it prefers to pass the hot potato to parliament and the people. One way or another, it cannot be ruled out that, as in “Monopoly”, the game will end with the order: Back to start. 

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