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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Saving the world one app at a time

Technological innovations are contributing to the fight against global inequality – in healthcare, education, agriculture and finance. Globalisation has now increased access to technology all over the world. The increased access to tech tools is opening endless possibilities for social entrepreneurs to fight inequality, boost social development and scale their social impact.

Mobile phones: impact at your fingertips

Today, technological devices reach more and more people, including those in developing countries. The number of mobile phone users in the world is expected to be 5 billion by the end of this year, according to a prediction by the GSM Association, a trade body of mobile phone operators.

“The phone is a portal to financial freedom and more inclusion,” says Anis Kallel, founder of ‘Kaoun’, a financial technology company that builds reliable decentralised infrastructure for payments and credit in Tunisia, allowing the large unbanked population there access to financial services. “People have technology, but they don’t have services,” he says, explaining how phones can be used to tackle financial inequality.
Haroon Yasin, founder of the ‘Orenda Welfare Trust’ in Pakistan, says “smartphones are becoming a great equaliser.” Yasin leads a company that is spreading education through smartphones to underserved children across the country. “Pakistan is a place where 50% of children are malnourished, but at the same time 50% of people have smartphones,” he says. “As a teacher, I saw that as an opportunity to take education to places where it hadn’t been before.”

Another example of how mobile phones create impact comes from iCow, “a practical academy in how you can improve dairy farming,” says Peter Wuffli, founder of the elea Foundation for Ethics in Globalization, a philanthropic impact investor which fights extreme poverty by investing in social enterprises. iCow is a mobile phone platform started in Kenya by social entrepreneur Su Kahumbu. Funded by the elea Foundation, the platform helps farmers by sending them information via text messages on how to increase productivity.

Technology, a tool for scalability

Technology is not only a tool for social enterprises to do good. It also plays an important role when it comes to scaling enterprises and amplifying their social impact. Technology enables enterprises to “collect data cost-effectively and be able to understand in real time whether or not their products, services, interventions and business model are actually having the intended impact that they want,” says Katherine Milligan, Professor of Social Entrepreneurship at the University of Geneva.

In the case of iCow, technology has supported the scalability of what was initially a local project involving 500 farmers, helping the platform to reach 60,000 farmers in Kenya and other African countries. The service’s subscribers pay for the app, too. “iCow is an example where the mobile revolution plus technology has helped scale social  businesses,” Wuffli says.

Local businesses, foreign capital

Before spreading to other countries, iCow started as a local initiative. Local expertise plays an essential role in tackling problems in specific areas or countries. “When you work at the local level, you manage to contextualise everything very well,” Yasin says.

According to Wuffli, initiatives and ideas that are successful in some countries do not necessarily work for other parts of the world. “History is full of examples of well-meant ideas brought to other geographies where the cultural conditions were different and there was a lack of commitment, understanding, and knowledge.”

That’s why elea invests in local businesses that are trying to make a social impact but need investment. “Impact is created when you bring entrepreneurship together with capital,” Wuffli says.
However, capital is not equally distributed around the world: While globalisation has increased access to technological capital, access to financial capital remains limited.  The unequal distribution not only produces inequalities between individuals and countries, but it also affects local entrepreneurs seeking investments for their companies.

As a result, entrepreneurs in developing countries cannot always count on domestic capital. One solution is to seek investors abroad. Yasin says: “Foreign capital is a way for young local start-ups to thrive.”

Local entrepreneurs can drive change through technology, but they often require foreign investments to thrive – and have a social impact.


Unemployment is a huge issue in southern European countries – especially for young people. In 2018, according to Eurostat, about 32% of Italians under the age of 25 were unemployed – one of the highest rates on the continent. Even for university graduates, it is common not to find a job in their area of expertise. The problem is not necessarily a lack of vacancies, but an outdated education system and political inaction.
Two young Italians rejected promising job offers to become entrepreneurs and to build up start-ups to make a change. The similarity between both companies: they connect unemployed people with companies looking for motivated employees.

Marco Cortinovis, Daily Internship
Together with three fellow students, the 25-year-old management graduate founded the social recruiting and talent discovery platform ‘Daily Internship’ in 2018. The  platform connects students who are looking for an internship – particularly in business and engineering – with companies. “Our aim is to help students to easily get in touch with top companies all around Europe, and at the same time help companies spot new talents,” Cortinovis says. Based on the information about the internship applicants are seeking, an algorithm reports every offer that fits. “That saves students a lot of time,” he says. Sixty thousand students are already using the service. For them, the site is free – companies pay for being listed on the platform.

Federico Pellegrini, Boolean Careers
The start-up the 24-year-old works for was founded in 2018 and provides live online coding classes. After six months of full-time training in common programming  languages, the users are ready for a job in the IT sector. “It is the fastest growing sector in the job industry in Italy,” Pellegrini says. But because the education system is not meeting the needs of the market, companies lack competent coders. Boolean Careers’ clients are mostly people who want to switch careers, and after their training, the company connects clients with possible employers to help get a job. By the end of 2019, Pellegrini says, about 150 to 200 people will have finished the training. Thus far, every student
connected with a company has been hired. — Franziska Andre

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