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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“Siri, did you miss me?”

People have been making money by exploiting human emotions since the dawn of time, and loneliness is no exception.

The Industrial Revolution – which saw people leaving their families and farms to move to cities in search of greener pastures, created a whole new market niche, says Shivangi Singh, a Leader of Tomorrow at the 48th St. Gallen Symposium and Young India Fellow at Ashoka University. “Loneliness hit them, and nightclubs appeared in response to that,” she says. “When you spend ten to twelve hours at work, what do you do when you are bored?”

More than 200 years later, we’re still lonely – in fact, globalisation only seems to have made the problem worse. And there’s even evidence loneliness is a public health threat. A study in 2016 found loneliness meant a 29% increased risk of coronary heart disease and a 32% greater risk of having a stroke. “Loneliness is a public health concern,” says Daniel Sawyer, one of the top student competitors of this year’s St. Gallen Wings of Excellence Award and a bioengineering doctoral student at Caltech. In Japan, one of the world’s most rapidly ageing societies, entrepreneurs seem to be finding innovative, albeit controversial, ways of providing companionship for their “kozoku” – loosely translated, the tribe of lonely people. Their solution: AI.

This year, Sony re-released their extremely popular companion-bot Aibo – first put on the market 20 years ago, then discontinued. “Sony was once really sensitive to how people can attach  emotions to robotics,” says Hiroaki Kitano, the CEO of Sony Computer Laboratories and Aibo’s creator.

Only the lonely

Aibo’s initial reception astounded the company, and Kitano himself. “People were very much more attached than we expected. It was overwhelming,” says Kitano. “That became a problem when we
discontinued it. People were very upset.”

But is it only the lonely who seek out companion-bots? “There are people who would not be able to have a real dog for a range of reasons, but still wish to have companions at home,” Kitano says. “We started thinking could we use it for therapy, for nursing homes, for these people and their emotional involvement.”

Two decades on, Kitano is far more skeptical when it comes to companion-bots as the remedy to the epidemic of loneliness, “Frankly, I do not think AI could necessarily solve the problem,” he says. “A robot may be able to assist humans, or temporarily play some role in interpersonal relationships, but it will not solve the problems behind it.”

AI to facilitate conversation? Sounds like something Daniel Sawyer might have pitched. His idea – to create a device that reads and translates empathy between two people – sparked a lot of conversation, even if the technology doesn’t exist (yet).

Hug a robot

Such a device could help the lonely. “It is hard to prescribe someone friends,” Sawyer says. “Research on loneliness shows it can be about misinterpretation of social cues.” So if we had something to prevent this misinterpretation, quite possibly, we would not be as lonely?

But are we not really just missing the point of it all? Loneliness is a social issue, as well as a medical one. Do we not need contact with people, rather than machines? And is it dangerous to replace human relationships with robotic ones? Singh fears a reliance on robotics for emotional support would lead to people “losing their social skills,” skills which are “very essential to long term human survival.”

Techno-optimists think such concerns are overblown. Dutch inventor Stijn Antonisse, the creator of “Sonax,” a huggable robot the inventor claims helps you sleep, thinks that we now have the ability to give lonely people some immediate help in the form of robotics. So “why not?” he asks.

Leader of Tomorrow Vu Huynh believes we are looking at robots the wrong way. “We do not have to give them a human identity,” she says. “We know we have a smart TV, a smart fridge, and now we have a robot.” If we do not conceptualise the robot as a person, then fears of robots replacing human relationships become less dramatic. After all, have you not been ignoring your friends’ Thursday night dinner invitations in favour of your favourite TV show for years?

So: If you cannot sleep, you can hug a robot with a mechanical beating heart inside. If you are lonely, you can pet your Aibo. And if you cannot prescribe someone friends, is giving them a companion-bot really all that bad?
Whatever the answers are, discussing possible fixes for this epidemic of loneliness – either through the human touch, medicalisation or a furless dog-bot – at least shows we are taking this public health concern as seriously as we should.

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