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
Watch Here

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?

Sign up for our Newsletter

Sign up for our Newsletter

Standing up for welfare

Automation and digitisation will threaten the livelihoods of billions of employees. Yet another consequence is less widely discussed: In the Western world at least, automation may mean the end of the welfare state as we know it. Policymakers around the globe are trying to shape its future, whether with a universal basic income, more vocational education, or technological progress.

Many Americans and Europeans fear that digitisation will cause turmoil in labour markets as globalisation did two decades ago. Though technology-driven mass  unemployment may seem unrealistic today, economists observe an increasing polarisation between well-paid, highly-skilled positions and low-paid, precarious occupations.

In most Western nations, taxation systems to finance welfare transfers rely on labour, despite capital-intense production becoming increasingly important. Usually, profits from capital gains are taxed at lower rates than wages.
With automation on the rise, the gap between rich and poor could widen: “More and more income is going to those who have property: physical, financial or intellectual. Less and less income is available for people relying on labour, who already are facing declining real wages,” says Guy Standing, an economist at the University of London.

European utopia

Potential answers for the challenges to come include different tax regimes, which rely more on the gains from capital, sovereign wealth funds to redistribute the gains from automation, or – the best known scheme – a universal basic income (UBI), Standing’s personal favourite.

Standing co-founded the Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN), an association of academics and activists promoting UBI. “Everybody in society deserves to have basic security and conditions where they are sharing a dividend from the collected wealth of past generations, and the resources that belong to all of us,” Standing argues.

Romanticised for a long time as socialist utopianism, UBI is now becoming a mainstream idea. Policymakers in Finland ran a two-year experiment in which 2,000 people received a UBI transfer instead of unemployment benefits. Switzerland’s voters rejected the introduction of a UBI in 2016, although 23% of voters backed the concept. Business leaders including Tesla’s Elon Musk and Siemens’ CEO Joe Kaeser have become advocates for the concept, too.
Standing cherishes the idea’s growing popularity. An older generation of Social Democrats tend to still oppose it, he says. “I think it is because they want a paternal state. I do not believe in paternalism,” Standing says. “I believe in freedom.”

On the other hand, Standing considers entrepreneurs advocating for UBI applause from the wrong quarter. “I worry because I do not want to dismantle the social state,” he says. “We need services, social care, health care – they shape our society.”

Despite its growing recognition, UBI and Standing still face many questions. It remains unclear how it would be financed, and whether every citizen should get the same sum or if a UBI might be based on profession, wealth, age, or citizenship. Potentially, the UBI could be realised as a negative income tax: The transfer would depend on a citizen’s level of income, but lose its universal character.

“A universal system says: We are all part of a community, we all need basic security,” Standing says. Taking care of basic needs would, however, have labour market  implications as well. In several experiments in the US, economists found that cash transfers reduce work effort, at least modestly.

American opportunities

The negative effect on work effort is the main reason why Philippa Malmgren, a robotics entrepreneur and former policy advisor to the White House, opposes the UBI. “We should not pay people not to work,” she says. Malmgren does not believe in the end of work. “We see record numbers in employment everywhere from the US to China.”

Wealth redistribution, whether via UBI or a negative income tax, does not work for her. “We need more growth in the economy which creates more tax revenue and adds jobs,” she says. “Redistribution by itself is not the answer.” To promote growth, she advises policy makers in the West to place more emphasis on smalland medium-sized enterprises, through tax cuts, for example. US data shows that firms with less than 500 employees account for 47.8% of US private-sector employment and 41% of total payroll.

Malmgren argues that university graduates will not be the only ones with jobs in the future. When she tried to hire PhDs for her robotics company, she found they were only able to fly a drone on a computer screen. Building, welding and assembling a physical drone requires employees  with vocational training. Now, Malmgren hires people with experience building toy planes or toy railroad trains. “You do not need artificial intelligence skills to do this.”
Toy trains and drones may be nerdy examples, but there are other blue-collar jobs that are critical for the economy: Garment workers will always be needed, Malmgren claims. “A large problem is we have assumed everybody is going to college and getting a white-collar job,” she says. “But there are many jobs that require more vocational skills. In fact, we have labour shortages in these areas.”

To prepare the welfare state as we know it in Western countries for automation, Malmgren also suggests adjustments. Currently, US insurance and pension funds stick with one company. In the EU, they are non-transferable between member states. “The system would work much better if people could take their insurance with them or could work for five employers part-time,” she says.

AI could actually make welfare systems more efficient. “AI could make government expenditure much more transparent, if not crystal-clear,” Malmgren says. “That will put an end to a lot of unnecessary government spending.”
The downside of governance through AI, however, can be observed in China. With the recently introduced Chinese Social Credit System, every person is awarded a score on social compliance. Looking at pornography or parking illegally lowers scores, and prevents people from obtaining certain permits. It is easy to imagine welfare transfers depending on social compliance. “We have to be very careful about such systems,” Malmgren says. “They could become authoritarian systems in conflict with democracy.” Luckily, China is not the model for Western welfare schemes right now.

After all, short-term labour market and social security reforms in reaction to automation may be modest. If automation causes mass unemployment one day, it may push policy makers to establish a universal basic income – and bid farewell to the welfare state as we know it.

Share the article

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *