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?
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
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.
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.
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.
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?
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?
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.
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?
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?
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
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?
“There Is Worse Than the Failure of Intelligence: The Failure of Imagination”
An In-depth Conversation with Admiral James G. Stavridis (Part 2 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 continuation of the first part of this interview.
Roos: Trust also seems to be at the heart of your concept of “smart power” (a combination of hard and soft power) that calls for open-source participation of a wide array of stakeholders (international organisations, private sector, think tanks, healthcare sector…) to peace and security. You’ve spent the last two decades promoting the concept and advocating for a more innovative approach to peace and security building. How do you concretely establish trust to enable the cooperation between so diverse stakeholders, each with their own mindset and culture?
Stavridis: Here you’d begin by learning the culture of the person or the organisation or the nation across the table. Whenever I would travel and make my way to different NATO countries as SACEUR, I would try and read a novel or two from the great writers of that nation. You’re French: well I read throughout my time (in French by the way!) the works of Sartre, because I think he represents modern existentialism and captures a part of a sense of the deep and rich culture of France. When I would go to a small nation in the Balkans, Bosnia-Herzegovina, I would read a novel by Ivo Andrić (Nobel prize winner by the way, as was Sartre), The Bridge on the Drina, about the society and history of Yugoslavia from the 17th century to WW1. So I think you should first study the culture and history, learn to understand the mindset. And if you’re dealing with an organisation like, for instance, Doctors Without Borders, you want to understand their philosophy, their composition, their history, before you sit at the negotiating table. When I sit down with the ICRC, I would work with my very dear friend Peter Maurer, and we would have deep conversations about the history of the Red Cross & the Red Crescent and those movements. So you begin by learning and listening.
Secondly, you must be willing to be on the receive side of the conversation. So often people think of meetings and sitting down as an opportunity to project, to pick up a megaphone and blast your message out. Well, conversation, negotiation, is not a megaphone. It’s a bridge. It has a beginning and an end, you cross that bridge and you have to take the time to listen and receive. And thirdly, you have to know where your red lines are, on the harder side of the conversations. You have to know what you are willing to give and what you will never cede in the conversation. I think those are the three simple ideas and principles to establish trust.
But in my experience, they are often not followed. And I’ll conclude by saying that we think of combat and military power incorrectly, so often. We think of it like a light switch on the wall, that either we turn on the light switch and we flood into combat, and we are dropping bombs and we are sending troops. Or we just turn the lights off and we bring all those troops home, along with all those ships and aircrafts, and we just park them until we want to turn that light of hard power on again. Wrong way to think! What we ought to be thinking is: how do we find a balance between use of combat power and use of soft power. The ability to conduct medical diplomacy, humanitarian operations, to build clinics, schools and wells, to help restructure an economy, to fight narcotics, to fight a pandemic… Those are soft power points.
My view, and that is what smart power is, it’s that blend between hard and soft power. And it’s not an on-and-off switch, it’s a rheostat (or sometimes called dimmer): you can turn the light up, you can turn the light down. You have to know where that balance is. But don’t get me wrong here: there are times when you need the full force of combat power. We are not going to negotiate a conclusion with the Islamic State for instance. We are going to break their organisation. France’s efforts in Mali, I think, are an example of where you need combat power. But so often it’s not just combat power, it’s finding negotiation grounds and what’s happening today in Afghanistan is an illustration of this: we’ve used the hard power instrument, we’ve used the soft power instrument, and now we’re finally sitting down at the negotiating table. And I think we will conclude a constructive agreement there, which blends hard and soft power. That’s a pretty good example of how you can use those two alongside each other.
Roos: But what is the political prospect and limitations of smart power at a time of resurgence of great powers competition? After all, smart power sounds more like the smart toolbox of a liberal democracy. There may be reasonable arguments to believe that it will not be an option for more authoritarian regimes, currently employing themselves to restore their lost imperial grandeur…
Stavridis: Yes, you’re right. I think there are probably three nations to quickly mention here, because their cases are so different. But all are involved in great powers competition, if you will. The first is Russia. Russia is, by definition, a great power: at this point, frankly, mostly because of their nuclear arsenal. It’s a nation in decline. Its demographics are terrible. It’s losing population. It has vast natural resources, hydrocarbons and oil & gas essentially, and a big nuclear arsenal. And, last but not least, it has a very dynamic and clever leader in Vladimir Putin. But its long-term ability to function as a great power is declining. So I don’t think there is a case to be made there other than the one I made earlier: we should confront them where we must, and cooperate where we can.
Very different case now: China. China, of course, is a rising power, and is a deep, very deep historically grounded nation with immense resources. Its demographics are declining somewhat but not as precipitously as those of Russia. And as a consequence, with China, we need a strategy. We don’t need a transactional relationship as we have with Russia. With China, I think, we need to step back, consider the history, the culture, the objectives, the resources of China, and construct a strategy that has, for sure, a hard power component for deterrence, but more importantly has all of the other things I talked about, a cultural component, a diplomatic component, an economic component… All of that needs to be blended together. And I believe that there is a real possibility that the US and China, as the century unfolds, will find a way to work more closely together. Now: could it all fall apart, could there be an unintended consequence, could there be a mistake in miscalculation in the South China Sea? Yes, there could be. But if we construct a strategy and work with China, I think we can manage the rise of China, although it will have dangerous moments.
And then third and finally, we don’t talk enough, in my view, about India, and its rising role in the world. India’s demographics are excellent, almost in vertical. They are a nation with many assets but also many challenges as we speak, with corruption and sanitation, with divisiveness and Hindi nationalism… But I think as the 21st century unfolds, you’ll see India rise. And I believe that three hundred years from now, when a historian writes about this century, it will be less about the rise of China than about that of India. Regarding India, I think that for the US and Europe, because we share a certain set of values, like democracy, a certain set of norms and laws, which may be executed at different speeds and places, the relationship with this great rising country will become increasingly important and valued over the century. In terms of partnering, soft power will be a part of the relationship with China, and a much more significant part of the relationship with India. Much less so with Russia because of the factors I mentioned earlier.
Roos: For the past 9 months, we’ve been living in the gravest crisis the world has ever known since WW2. We’ve been talking a lot about strategy in this discussion. And as it happens, the CIA, in its now much-commented report “Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World”released more than a decade ago, had clearly identified a global pandemic as a serious possible global systemic risk threatening the global economy and global security. Actually one couldn’t have been more accurate: “If a pandemic disease emerges, it probably will first occur in an area marked by high population density and close association between humans and animals, such as many areas of China and Southeast Asia, where human populations live in close proximity to livestock. Unregulated animal husbandry practices could allow a zoonotic disease such as H5N1 to circulate in livestock populations—increasing the opportunity for mutation into a strain with pandemic potential. To propagate effectively, a disease would have to be transmitted to areas of higher population density” (page 75). This report has clearly not been taken seriously enough. Would you say there is a lack of political trust in defence & security intelligence? And one that has cost us quite a lot…
Stavridis: I have actually been talking about a pandemic for well over a decade, as have others. In fact, I’ve talked about the three big security challenges I saw, going back ten years ago: the threat of cyber security, the threat of climate change, and the threat of pandemics. I think we try to say to ourselves that Covid is a black swan. No. It’s a black elephant, and it was always standing right in front of us. But we just ignored the big black elephant in the room. There are certainly many organisations, many individuals who have spoken about pandemics. And if you look at the history of the human race, it is like a clock striking midnight: about every one hundred to two hundred years there is a pandemic, despite all the improvements in medicine. Unfortunately it did not take a genius to see that by packing ourselves together in cities, and by instituting global constant air travels, we were making the world perfect for a pandemic. We’re actually very lucky that novel coronavirus is not as lethal, for example, as the Spanish flue was a hundred years ago. It is certainly not a benign pathogen, but I think we’ll find -with therapeutics, the death rate is going to be around 1 to 2%- a twist of the DNA, and there could be multiples of that. So we will suffer, greatly, as a result of the pandemic, but I’m confident, globally, that we’ll learn fundamental lessons. I think we’ll be prepared for another one.
I, for one, am now beginning to talk more and more about cyber, and cyber security, which I think is the next big significant global threat. And we are so guilty always of fighting the last war. We should certainly draw the lessons of Covid and this fighting this pathogen, and I know we will. But we need to be looking to the future and future challenges. I’d also like to answer you by saying the greatest strategic intelligence failure of my lifetime was 9/11, which was not a failure of intelligence in a certain sense. It was worse: it was a failure of imagination. We simply couldn’t imagine that a small organisation like Al-Qaeda could develop itself in such a lethal fashion and figure out a way to attack the US in a manner that it did. And that is a hinge point in History that changed the next twenty years dramatically. Let’s not have another failure of imagination as we look forward to the threats ahead of us.
But let me conclude on an important point. We’ve talked a lot about challenges and the dark side of the equation in this discussion and that’s appropriate given the times we’re in. We shouldn’t forget to talk about leadership. And I will quote Napoleon –also because I’m with a wonderful French interlocutor right now and I love to quote Napoleon! Napoleon said “a leader is a dealer in hope”. A leader is a dealer in hope! And as I look at this very dangerous world we’re in, I remain very hopeful, and cautiously optimistic. The leaders I see around the world are as many reasons to hope. And here I include French President Macron, the President of the EU Commission Ursula von der Leyen, who’s a strong capable leader. I think –no, I don’t think, I know!- that President Joe Biden will be a strong, capable and engaged leader. I know Angela Merkel personally, and I wish she was staying longer in the job, but there will be other good leaders in Germany. As I look at Japan, I see a new leader, Yoshihide Suga, following Prime Minister Abe after working closely with him. Overall, globally, I see capable leaders who embrace our values. They’re dealers in hope and that is why I’m hopeful, as we continue our voyage in this stormy season…
Roos: I have some very last question, regarding a striking comment you made some years ago at Tufts University: “our future depends on how the world views us”. How would you say the world sees the US today?
Stavridis: I’d say that for the US, this is why our values matter so much. What are our values? They are democracy, the rule of law, liberty, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of education, gender equality, racial equality… The truth is we execute these values imperfectly. And for the US, I think it is crucial that we keep faith with those values. If we do that, if we project that sense, then I think we can continue to be a leader in the world. Not the leader, but a leader. And an important one, working with our partners around the world, both in Europe and Asia, Africa and Latin America. In that sense I am confident our next Administration, under our new President, will be grounded in these values. We will make mistakes, we will do things with which our allies, partners and friends won’t always agree. But we will remain grounded in those values. That’s the most important thing for the US at the moment.
This was the second part of the interview. You can find the first part here.
Admiral James G. Stavridis is an Operating Executive at The Carlyle Group, following five years as the 12th Dean of The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. A retired 4-star general officer in the U.S. Navy, he led the NATO Alliance in global operations from 2009 to 2013 as Supreme Allied Commander (SACEUR) with responsibility for Afghanistan, Libya, the Balkans, Syria, counter-piracy, and cyber security. He also served as Commander of U.S. Southern Command, with responsibility for all military operations in Latin America (2006-2009). Admiral Stavridis earned a PhD in international relations from the Fletcher School, and has published nine books on leadership and the geopolitics of the sea. Admiral Stavridis is also Chair Emeritus of the Board of Directors of the U.S. Naval Institute and is a monthly columnist for TIME Magazine and Chief International Security Analyst for NBC News.