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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“There Is Worse Than the Failure of Intelligence: The Failure of Imagination”

An In-depth Conversation with Admiral James G. Stavridis (Part 1 of 2)

In an exclusive cross-generational conversation, Leader of Tomorrow Grégoire Roos talks to Admiral James G. Stavridis, a retired 4-star general officer in the U.S. Navy and former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, now an Operating Executive at The Carlyle Group, about the role of trust in international affairs, his foreign policy expectations for a Biden presidency, and the prospects and limitations of “smart power” at a time of resurging great powers competition. 

This is the first part of this interview. You can find the second part here.

Grégoire Roos: Starting with a somewhat very unoriginal question… What can America’s allies, and Europe in particular, expect from the next US administration under President Biden? Trust between the two shores of the Atlantic seems to have suffered significantly lately… 

James Stavridis: The first change to expect is atmospheric but nonetheless important: it is simply the tone of the conversation. I think you will immediately begin to hear from the Biden foreign policy team and the President-elect himself a sense that our allies matter, that we respect them, and that we want to work with them. So first of all, you’ll hear a much more collegial tone. Secondly, as there will need to be actions to go along with deeds, I believe you’ll see the US send its top leadership towards NATO: you’ll see a new US ambassador to NATO and overtime a series of very high-ranking military officials. You’ll see a new Secretary of State committed to working more closely with Europe. And I think you’ll see all these people coming and spending time with our European colleagues, because there will be a keen appreciation in the Biden Administration that our greatest pool of partners in the world is in Europe: NATO, the EU, and nations that are long-time friends and partners of the US although not members of either of those organisations, like Switzerland. 

That basket of European nations strongly shares our values. And you will therefore see concrete physical outreach by the leadership of this Biden Administration. And then lastly and perhaps more importantly, there will be changes in policy that I think will be well received in Europe. For example, you’ll see the US go back to the negotiation table with Iran. I think we’ll begin by collaborating with our European partners to craft a strategy; we’ll want to renegotiate and perhaps rejoin the deal. But it might be some hybrid of the two of those. A second obviously policy decision that I believe will happen the very day President Biden is inaugurated is that the US will rejoin the Paris Climate Accord, which enjoys, appropriately, a high degree of popularity, if you will, in Europe. I could go on and on, but the point is that you’ll see a difference in tone, you’ll see physical presence of Americans coming to sit and talk in Europe with our allies, partners and friends, and you’ll see policy changes. All three of those things will, I think, unfold rapidly. 

Roos: If we pay honest attention to some of President Trump’s criticism of Europe’s lack of commitment to NATO (and mostly their lagging behind in terms of defence spending and respect the 2014 pledge to spend at least 2% of one’s GDP on defence), which has provoked an uproar in many European capitals, the truth compels us to recognise he was right: Europe clearly hasn’t done enough. As trust only lasts if it is mutual, what would Europe need to deliver to be seen as a credible partner for the US? 

Stavridis: It will be along the entire spectrum of cooperation. And let’s start with that 2% requirement that all of us, the 30 member States of NATO, have agreed on. Let’s be clear here: that predates the Trump Administration by quite a period of time. And as SACEUR, I was very forceful with our European colleagues about the need to meet that 2%-rule. That was under President Obama, and there can’t be two more different presidents than Barack Obama and Donald Trump. So let’s face it: the US will continue to make significant pressure to make that 2%-cap, and I hope our European friends will continue to strive to do so and get there sooner rather than later. I also think there will be a higher demand signal for cooperation in some key technical areas. One will be cyber and cyber security. Another one will be Special Forces, particularly using the relatively new NATO Special Forces Command. A third one will be unmanned vehicles, continuing to build on the success of the new NATO acquisition of the long-range drone aircraft now operating out of Italy. I think those are examples of the areas on which there will be a hunger on the part of the US for more technical cooperation. And then, third and finally, the US will look for Europe and NATO to stand with us as we face emerging challenges, for example from China, from Iran, from North Korea, and most obviously from Russia. NATO and the EU have been, I think, reasonably good partners, particularly given the frustrations of dealing with the Trump Administration. But I believe a Biden Administration will feel as though “We, the US, are reaching back out in positive ways, those are some of the areas that we’ll look for return signals”… 

Roos: Talking of Russia, I remember your op-ed in Time Magazine, in the summer of 2016, in which you called for a “new grand bargain with Russia”. Four years later, is there enough trust left between Russia and the US to still consider such a grand bargain?  

Stavridis: What we have learnt in four years is that, first of all, it is highly unlikely that Vladimir Putin will leave power. Secondly we’ve learnt that Mr Putin will continue to try to attack and disrupt the US as he did in 2016 in our elections. And thirdly, I think we’ve learnt that the only thing Russia fundamentally responds to is its own self-interest. There is no value set in Russia that we can appeal to. So that’s the difference, in 2020, to 2016. And therefore, going forward with Russia, I think the idea of a grand bargain, a big basket of changes that kind of come together, is unrealistic. So today I would advocate for a policy that goes as follows: we should confront the Russian Federation where we must, where Vladimir Putin’s actions are so deleterious to the international system. Examples would be his support for the war criminal Assad in Syria, his invasion and occupation of Ukraine, his continuing military probes around the edges of the Alliance [NATO], his use of cyber and social networks to attack democracy in the US and in other ally countries… We must confront Russia on those issues.  

Roos: But if we want a minimum level of trust to remain, cooperation, however limited, is needed… 

Stavridis: Yes. But we should confront where we must and cooperate wherever we can. So what are the zones of cooperation with the Russian Federation? Hopefully we can cooperate on strategic arms limitation. The Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) [a flagship treaty of the Cold War signed by Richard Nixon and Leonid Brejnev in 1972, limiting anti-ballistic missiles] expires next February, and I think it would put the world in a much more dangerous and precarious situation if we can’t renegotiate a strategic arms limitation treaty. We can definitely cooperate there. We can also, I think, cooperate on climate, on counter-piracy operations, on counter-narcotics, on counter-terrorism. We may even be able to cooperate with Russia to help solve future conflicts like the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan for example. So rather than trying to construct a grand bargain, today our strategy with Russia ought to be confront where we must on those issues that deeply matter and are consubstantial with our values, and cooperate where we can in hope that, overtime, Russia will change its position, change its attitude, and want even greater levels of cooperation – only then may be the time for a grand bargain, but not now.

As NATO supreme commander, Stavridis, left, joined in a Helsinki defense conference in October 2012. Photo: British Army Staff Sgt. Ian Houlding

Roos: Regarding relationships amongst allies, Turkey has been at the centre of the attention lately, especially in Europe, where confrontations between the Turkish and other NATO allies’ navies (the Greek and the French ones in particular) in the Eastern Mediterranean have intensified. This comes a few years after another NATO crisis, triggered by the decision of Turkey to buy the S-400 anti-aircraft weapon system from Russia. To a certain extent, you have a very personal relation to Turkey, as your paternal grandparents fled the Ottoman Empire in the 1920s when others in their family were not as lucky and got killed during what is now called by some historians the “Pontic Genocide” [the systematic killing of the Christian Greek minority in Anatolia in 1914-1922]. As SACEUR, you worked very closely with high-ranking Turkish officials. How does a leader manage to separate one’s own personal feelings from one’s duty? And how can we keep trust between partners and allies in spite of all the trauma of History? 

Stavridis: Indeed, my grandparents were refugees from the Ottoman Empire. In 1922 they were driven out of what was then called Smyrna -which is today Izmir, and barely escaped with their lives. My grandmother stood on a burning quay wall in the city of Smyrna and was rescued by a Greek fisherman who brought her to Athens and then she and my grandfather took ship and came to America through Ellis Island. So yes, you’re right, I have personal family history that binds me with Turkey, and technically I’m of Turkish descent in the sense that my grandparents were citizens of the Ottoman Empire; they spoke Turkish, French, English and Greek obviously. And the way I approached this was to go immediately to Turkey when I became SACEUR.

My very first official visit as SACEUR was to Ankara. And I met and worked very closely with the Minister of Defence and the Minister of Foreign Affairs. I also became very close, over those years, with Ahmet Davutoğlu, who went on to become Prime Minister and with whom I’ve remained in contact and friendship to this day. I worked also very closely with the former Chief of Defence, currently Minister of National Defence, General Hulusi Akar. So my point is: we have to respect the past, understand our history, but we can’t be imprisoned by it. And that was the message I took to Ankara. And by the way, during my four years as SACEUR, Turkey was an extremely productive and positive force in the Alliance, sending troops, ships and aircrafts on every single mission, including Libya, which back then was controversial. 

I’ll close here by sharing an anecdote: after four years of working closely with Turkey, I went to Ankara to say farewell, meeting with President Erdoğan and Prime Minister Davutoğlu. And as is traditional, they presented me with a gift as I was leaving; and instead of what you would normally expect, a fountain pen or a beautiful vase or local piece of art, they presented me with a book of vintage postcards about the Greek community in Smyrna a hundred years earlier. It was very moving! And the Minister said to me: “you have showed us that we must remember the past but not be imprisoned by it.” And so, that’s a long way of saying you can build trust, personal relationships do matter, you have to understand History but be able to move beyond it. A good example at a macro level is what is happening today in Colombia, or South Africa, or Rwanda, in all these nations where there have been horrific and terrible levels of violence. But, as difficult as it is, all these nations are working hard to try and move beyond that, and they exact accountability but they also recognise that what matters is the truth and the ability of a society to move forward, to remember the past but not be imprisoned by it. That is the essence of trust.  

This is the first part of this interview. You can find the second part here.

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