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
Watch Here

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
Watch Here

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?

Sign up for our Newsletter

Sign up for our Newsletter

United against the robots

Some call him the global warrior for workers’ rights. And indeed, Philip J. Jennings gets emotional when talking about the well-being of workers. “I call on the students to take up the spirit of 1968!” he said during a debate with a representative of employer groups on the St. Gallen Symposium’s main stage. “There is a revolution in the world of work, and this generation should push for people to be put in its centre.“

This revolutionary roar would be familiar to the founders of the International Students’ Committee, which established the symposium as a reaction to the leftwing, student-led protest movements that swept Europe in 1968. Jennings has led the UNI Global Union, an organisation representing 900 unions, since its creation in 2001. He is the face of a trade union movement looking to recover lost ground, at a time when robots are poised to take over millions of jobs.
The numbers are daunting. According to the OECD, 14% of jobs in developed countries are at risk of being automated, and a further 32% are likely to go through significant changes. The trade union movement is not new to such levels of disruption: They originated during the first industrial revolution at the end of the 18th century. Can today’s technological change bring unions back to life?

On the ground, the reality is quite grim. In many European countries, the number of union members is decreasing. According to data from the European Social Survey covering the period from 2002 to 2014, union membership in Germany went from 19% to 15%. In Denmark, a country with traditionally high trade union coverage, it fell from from 77% to 69%. Jennings blames the declining membership on the “fluidity” of the labour market and shorter job tenures.

One answer to this fall in support, he says, is to rethink outreach. “Unions should be much more innovative and aggressive in trying to attract young people,” Jennings says. “We should go out into schools and places of higher education.” Jennings draws inspiration from the biggest German union, IG Metall, which has opened offices in universities. On the opposite side of the debate, Roberto Suárez Santos, acting Secretary General of the International Organisation of Employers, which represents 150 national employer organisations, thinks unions need to modernise: “Their way of working is very conservative.” Indeed, the labour market has become much less homogenous than it used to be. Automation has done away with the typical nine-tofive office routine. Alternative forms of work, such as freelancing, are on the rise. In the US, for instance, 36% of the workforce is freelance, according to 2017 data from the Freelancers Union. The instability inherent to such jobs complicates the negotiation of collective agreements.  Jennings, however, seems optimistic. “Freelancers and unions belong together,” he says. “It is a relationship that works.”

As an example, Jennings cites a sector-wide framework negotiated for workers of the film industry in the US. “There are a number of people saying that we are not going to fix this enterprise by enterprise. We really do need to have a more sectoral approach to establishing labour standards in the sector.”

A response to automation

There is one issue on which both employers and trade unions seem to agree: The need to retrain workers. “We have to anticipate the upcoming scenario and develop
new skills,” says Suárez Santos. In that regard, Jennings demands more concrete action. “We have a lot of conversation about how everyone needs to adapt and get new skills,” Jennings says. “This  requires investment in human capital, otherwise where will people go?” he asks.

Besides, Jennings argues, there are neither enough policies helping workers to retrain, nor are existing programmes sufficiently funded. “Adult education is a massive growth area both for public institutions and the private sector. This requires a new degree of financing.” Two hundred years ago in England, where unions were still illegal, workers took a radical road in response to the introduction of machinery. The so-called Luddites burned and destroyed factories and mills across the country. Rather than destroying machines, workers’ dissatisfaction with the status quo is being felt at the polls: Brexit and the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States are widely seen as expressions of this discontent. “It is not just the transformation of work, but the insecurity people feel, and the sense that no one is looking out for them,” Jennings says.

During the debate in St. Gallen, the audience was asked if they thought employers were doing enough to protect their employees from the negative consequences of automation. Two-thirds said no. Jennings takes hope from this result: “I think we are winning the argument that we cannot leave people behind, he says. Businesses and  unions should work together.”

Share the article

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *