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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Trust-Based Management of Financial Services

Digital innovation has allowed financial institutions to cater more transparently to clients. However, improper use of capital from the financial sector can lead to an unsustainable economic system.

The world has yet to fully recover from last decade’s global financial crisis. The collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008, and the subsequent worldwide economic turmoil, fractured what little trust society had left in the financial industry as people began questioning everything that capitalism stood for.

Over a decade later, with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and its ripple effects on the global economy, financial institutions – new and old – have been working non-stop to ensure that consumers, businesses, bank accounts and investment portfolios stay afloat. Now, the big question has surfaced again, with more at stake than ever before: Can the world really trust financial institutions to empower and protect us?

“Creating new services and solutions for clients is where we have to go next,” Lisa Schröder, a fintech leader and head of APAC operations at Singapore-based portfolio investment company Vestr told panelists at the St. Gallen Symposium’s “Trust in Financial Services” session, moderated by Ravi Velloor of The Straits Times.

Schröder described “financial services” as a conservative, closed-box practice that lacked a clear definition, mainly because such services depend heavily on the needs of a client. Having worked in fintech incubators, she emphasized that for a financial institution attracting customers means making sure people have a transparent understanding of what services an institution offers.

“Financial services don’t just come from banks nowadays,” she said, citing digital London-based fintech company Revolut which offers an online interactive brokerage account for its customers.

This collection of diversified financial services, moving digitally in a “brick to click” manner, can help strengthen broad trust in financial institutions because the use of precise customer data can help make the financial markets more transparent and foolproof, said Edmund Koh, president of UBS’s APAC group to the panel.

Mathias Imbach, founder of Sygnum, the world’s first digital asset bank, told the Symposium’s magazine team in an interview that modern technologies in the banking space allow services like Sygnum to best service their clients and partners with investing in digital assets with full trust.

“Blockchain technology allows us to work towards ‘Future Finance,’ where everybody has more direct access to ownership and value – and thus can take back some of the control lost in today’s world,” he said.

Imbach is convinced that institutions like Sygnum are needed “to change the status quo” and that, ultimately, trust in financial institutions is linked to whether or not people are meaningfully working on behalf of stakeholders or just chasing short-term economic goals.

Swiss climate activist Stephanie Wyss agreed, saying in a separate session, “Capital for Purpose,” that such investments are only as good as the direction capital is flowing.

“Profit-maximizing thinking is short-term thinking, and sustainable thinking is longer-term,” she said to fellow panelists in a conversation moderated by London School of Economics professor Stephen Chambers.

“It seems we are in a boat that is sinking, and instead of looking at why is it sinking or rebuilding the boat, we are plugging some holes or repainting it green and calling it sustainable,” she said. Such “greenwashing” is a particular problem in Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) investment practices, where ESG is regarded as a way to generate active returns and not as a way to usher in a more environmentally friendly future.

“If I invest in sustainable funds, it’s because I want to make money, and I think that’s the wrong approach,” she said.

Wyss pointed out the insincerity of many ESG approaches by describing Credit Suisse’s decision to list a major food and drink conglomerate as a top ESG investment choice, despite the latter being involved in scandals including the use of child labor and price fixing.

“Capitalism” has now become “growth capitalism,” said Czech macroeconomic historian Tomáš Sedláček, who was on the panel with Wyss. To him, utilizing purposeful capital is a matter of being able to put profits aside for the greater good while building and sustaining a strong society.

Despite what many say about a future with prevailing inequality and unsustainable business practices, Sedláček is optimistic. “We are capable as mankind of putting the economy in second place,” he said.

As an example, he cited the global COVID-19 vaccination rollout, in which governments and institutions committed to making vaccines free and accessible for everyone. “Nobody came up with a market solution that said, ‘Okay, let people buy their vaccines; let the strong and the healthy and the productive buy them first,’” he said.

All told, trusting in the future of financial services means not focusing on prices, but instead examining the inner intrinsic motivation of investment decisions, be it an ESG portfolio or retail banking. Says Wyss: “Rebuild the boat, don’t just paint it green.”

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