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 in times of the pandemic

What are the greatest challenges worldwide, and how have governments mastered the pandemic? At the St.Gallen Symposium, these issues were discussed by top-notch representatives from politics and business, among them the Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.

5 May 2021. The St.Gallen Symposium is among those conferences at which the list of participants is almost as top-class as those of the speakers. During this year’s conference, one is sometimes tempted to browse through the list for contacts one would like to meet at the virtual bar. However, there was hardly any opportunity for this kind of thing in the afternoon of the second day: the discussions were too exciting.

Zooming in and out in the crisis
Under the chairmanship of Martin Wolf, economics commentator at the Financial Times, people discussed the challenges of our times. Kira Maria Peter-Hansen, Danish Member of the European Parliament, and Professor Stephanie Kelton, Stony Brook University, agreed that global warming was the greatest problem. However, the signs from the USA were better than in previous years: “Climate change is front and centre for the Biden administration,” said Kelton. To solve the problem, the rich countries would have to make a financial contribution to bring poorer countries along. She was convinced that the USA would play a leading role. In Kira Maria Peter-Hansen’s view, the problem had so far been tackled with too little ambition. “The longer we wait, the more generations will suffer from the consequences.” However, nobody must be left behind. For the transition to succeed, the “green economy” would have to create enough jobs. Alvin Tan, Minister of State in Singapore, said that one should not focus too much at present, but also “zoom out” and consider future developments. For Singapore, this means, for instance, procuring sufficient vaccines, but also ensuring that in the future, they will be able to develop and produce them domestically. Marianne Janik, Area Vice President, Microsoft Germany, pointed out that digitalisation was not proceeding at the same pace everywhere. Here, the pandemic was a “stress test”. Also, the world was not ready to deal with cyber threats adequately.

Do people trust the government?
HSG professor Miriam Meckel interviewed the Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz. Had Austria coped well with the crisis, and what could have been done better? The government did a good job as crisis manager, said Sebastian Kurz. In the first wave, a major disaster could be prevented because there was rare inter-party discipline and great support among the population. During the summer, discussions about the measures increased. This was normal in a democracy but made the implementation of strict measures in the second wave more difficult. This had probably happened in a similar way in many countries. Credibility was a daily challenge in the political discourse. A reduction in the media and social media made it difficult to find a consensus. The bandwidth of views, also among experts, was enormous. Whether new technologies such as artificial intelligence could serve as decision-making aids? “That will be a giant step.” If one had used everything that was already technically possible, much could have been done better in the pandemic. He was concerned about the fact that many countries were not prepared to use the opportunities of digitalisation. “We’ve got a lot to catching up to do in this respect.” However, many citizens would rather entrust their data to Facebook than to the health ministry. At least people’s trust in science and research was stronger today. “It’s an incredible success of science that we had a vaccine so quickly.” The fact that the USA and the UK made such good progress with regard to vaccination had something to do with the complex structures of the EU. That was why the EU was too hesitant when it came to the conclusion of contracts with pharmaceutical companies. In addition, the border regulations in Europe had not worked, which sometimes resulted in absurd situations. “I hope that we’ll succeed in establishing the green passport by the summer and in restoring the freedom to travel.”

Digital identities that we trust
Subsequently, there was a choice of seven parallel sessions. How can we make digital identities trustworthy? This complex issue was discussed by Damian Borth and Katerina Mitrokotsa, full professors at the University of St.Gallen, with Jeffrey Bohn, Senior Advisor at the Swiss Re Institute. Prof. Öykü Isik from the IMD Business School opened the discussion with an alarming fact: according to the UN, more than a billion people worldwide are unable to prove their identity, which excludes them from important services. According to Damian Borth, the discussion was about trust. In order to safeguard trust between people, but also between institutions, specific tools were required. In Katerina Mitrokotsa’s view, a lack of transparency regarding the treatment of data resulted in a situation whereby the population did not have any trust in digital solutions. She reckoned that this was a reason for the rejection of the E-ID in Switzerland. Control must be returned to the users, and they must be shown how the systems work. Jeffrey Bohn warned that governments would have to take their bearings from companies or cooperate with them when it came to digital identities. Otherwise things would become too complex. However, he would also like governments to assume sovereignty: “Personally I do not trust Facebook as my identity provider.” He also mentioned users’ rights not to be constantly identified. Then there was a long discussion about the “success story” of the GDPR.

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