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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The ‘beautiful chaos’ of 6 Degrees St. Gallen

The 48th St. Gallen Symposium marked the first collaboration with the 6 Degrees event, organised by the Institute of Canadian Citizenship. The goal was to provoke conversation about inclusion and exclusion, and what steps we should be taking in order to create more ethical and tolerant societies. The 6 Degrees conference itself included workshops and panels on a round stage. The main aim was to include the audience in the conversation. To that end, 6 Degrees staff threw around mobile microphones encased in soft, plush cubes.

In keeping with the symposium’s topic, the day began with a panel on “Economies.” The conversation revolved around diversity and inclusion within businesses and the workforce, with the speakers dedicating their mic time to talking about why such ideas are beneficial to companies and employees alike.

One of the speakers was Yulkendy Valdez. Her organization, Project 99, is focused on fostering millennial talent. She was enthusiastic about the 6 Degrees concept. “As someone who has lived this, as an immigrant to the United States, but also through the work I do, it’s important,” says Valdez.

Though 6 Degrees had featured speakers, it was unusual in its efforts to share the floor with the audience – many of whom had criticisms that needed to be discussed openly. One audience member, Yassmin Abdel-Magied, raised the issues she had working as an engineer for Shell, where panelist Peter Voser once worked as CEO. As a black, Muslim woman, Abdel-Magied found the claims Voser made on stage in regards to the inclusivity and diversity in his workforce to be somewhat off the mark in regards to her own experience.

This dramatic exchange set off a conversation around the room about what it means to fill hiring quotas and how, in fact, we must look beyond diversity numbers to make workspaces inclusive in a much deeper, rooted sense, such as working on diversity, acceptance beyond who you hire, and listening to workers about their issues and experiences. “Talk to me, not about me,” Abdel-Magied said, a line which yielded applause from the rest of the room.

The unusual format and engaged audience got rave reviews. “This is exactly what needs to happen,” Valdez says. “Often you go to a conference or a panel and listen. Maybe you get to ask a few questions at the end. But this is the kind of beautiful chaos that we need. I’m sure not everybody walked out satisfied, but that’s better than not having the conversation at all.” The conference – which began as a three-day event in Toronto last year – is partly the brainchild of Adrienne Clarkson, a former Governor General of Canada. The intent is to be more inspirational than academic. “This is not a study of anything,” Clarkson says. “It is involvement, it is a movement.”

Clarkson describes the symposium as “super-national” – and as a perfect fit for a “super-portable” event like 6 Degrees. “I think it’s very interesting to have points of view that are very different [among] people who are thinking about the same things, people want to share their ideas about belonging and inclusion, with or without natural borders,” she says. “That’s what it’s all about: the movement of people, the movement of ideas.”

The collaboration originated with Scott Young, one of the symposium’s former Leaders of Tomorrow, who now works for 6 Degrees. After Young suggested a collaboration, the organisers saw the promise of working together. “Inclusion is something that should matter,” says Rolf Bachmann, the St. Gallen Symposium vice-president.


In the next panel, on “Societies,” the audience was asked whether people are naturally inclusive or exclusive. At one point Aya Chebbi, founder and chair of the Afrika Youth Movement, handed the mic to Abdel-Magied, who spoke articulately on the subject of representation. Her speech detailed the systemic discrimination Abdel-Magied had experienced in her line of work. “I’m tired,” she said – tired of being the only black Muslim woman in her office, and tired of being “expected to be grateful.”

Abdel-Magied had the eyes and ears of every member of the room glued to her. “The things that we are talking about are not abstract, they are our, they are my lived experiences. This stuff matters. This stuff is important. This stuff destroys people’s lives,” she said. “It’s about history. It’s about people saying ‘Pick yourselves up by your bootstraps,’ when there was a systematic, concerted campaign by colonists over hundreds and hundreds of years to destroy people so they would not be able to pick themselves up by their bootstraps.”

Later in the session, Abhijit Sinha, co-founder of Project DEFY, a company which builds “nooks” of technology in developing communities to show people how to teach themselves – gave an impassioned presentation of his observations on how societies exclude refugees. He was impressed that there was room for dialogue during the event. “The interesting thing about the programme is that it actually does allow for difference of opinion, and there was difference of opinion,” he said. “It is great to let that happen, and allow challenging points of views to come forward. I would like to see this happen in the very grassroots, where people have not been allowed to have an opinion.”

The wide-ranging discussion at the event did not cover everything. For example, one audience member pointed out that the St. Gallen Symposium and its participants are very much part of the global elite. In such an elite room, perhaps the topic of inclusion should have elicited more discussions on economic redistribution. But that seemed to be lost amongst other, equally vital conversations.

According to audience member Celia Ramirez, a health practitioner from Mexico, 6 Degrees was an important space for listening and hearing different perspectives. “But this is just the first step,” she said. “The second step would be a 6 Degree analysis of what happened afterwards. Let’s meet again, let’s follow up on what was said and what happened afterwards. Let’s not just leave it there.”

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