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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What Drives Trust in Online Business?

As COVID-19 has caused yet another boost in e-commerce, the factors contributing to trust in business online are more important than ever, according to the 2021 Voices of the Leaders of Tomorrow Report.

Trust, besides all other important roles in everyday life, has a very important function in any kind of business relationship. Economists have identified trust as a crucial factor in trade and investment decisions because it enables more efficient transactions (Güth, Ockenfels & Wendel, 1993). Trust lowers the perceived risk and thus the cost and effort of controlling every detail of an exchange. Without customer trust, no business model can be successful in the long run. Online retail is no exception. And as COVID-19 has caused yet another boost in online shopping, the factors contributing to trust in online settings deserve some attention.

Consumers have learned to shop increasingly online, and it is very likely that this experience will have long-term effects. Even after the end of the COVID-19 restrictions, online commerce will probably account for a much higher share than before in most countries.

Drivers of Perceived Trustworthiness in Online Business

In an article about the sharing economy, Mareike Möhlmann and Timm Teubner (2020) note that online trust needs to be built between strangers. This is an interesting phenomenon, as it seems to run against our evolutionarily-rooted reservation toward strangers. “Physical proximity, personal relations, and repeated interactions have been substituted by technology. Novel ways extend the formation of trust into digital environments, successfully mitigating perceptions of ‘stranger danger’.”

There is plenty of advice on strategy and measures for gaining trust as a prerequisite to success in e-business. Reviews and ratings by other customers play a central role in dispelling concerns and support the choice of products and services online. But it is less clear how essential their contribution to trust-building is compared to other convenience and image aspects such as certification labels or the presence of social media platforms.Image

While this is clearly not a representative sample of online shoppers, it is interesting to learn what the Leaders of Tomorrow surveyed for this year’s Voices of the Leaders of Tomorrow Report – a collaboration of the Nuremberg Institute for Market Decisions (NIM) and the St. Gallen Symposium –  think about this issue, as many of them are or will be running their own online businesses, which may lead them to particular judgemental scrutiny. Our results suggest that reviews and ratings are indeed considered particularly important (see Figure 9). This assess ment is in line with a statement from Giana M. Eckhardt (2020): “Hunting for ‘stars,’, the icons of the reputation economy, is a prerequisite for survival in e-commerce […].”

While none of the features listed in the survey are rated as dispensable or counterproductive for building trust by the majority of respondents, only two of them are rated as “essential” by around 60%. For example, besides “Transparent privacy measures for safeguarding customer data,” “Clear and comprehensive reviews/ratings from verified buyers” should not be missing in any online store. Two other factors are rated as essential by between 40% and 50% of the respondents: “Replies to customer inquiries within 24 hours (or even faster)” and “Official certification label (e.g., trusted shop).” All other features are assessed as being less essential for building trust (below 30%). This message is important because maintaining any service, of course, means additional effort and costs for the provider, and if resources are tight, focusing on the four main factors may help.

Trust in Online Reviews

The majority of the Leaders of Tomorrow (61%) consider the reviews and ratings on online portals to be trustworthy, but the other 39% believe the opposite. Apparently, the reliability of reviews is a polarizing matter. No wonder, since most also believe that it is difficult to discern between genuine and fake ratings or reviews. The proportion of those who think they can easily identify fakes is significantly higher among those who say the reviews can be trusted (46%) than among those who say they cannot be trusted (23%). Respondents are relatively unanimous on the question of whether companies and platform providers do enough to identify fake ratings or prevent them altogether: They don’t, according to just under 80%. So there is still room for improvement when it comes to living up to expectations.

Relevance of Brand Reputation for Online Business

According to a Forbes article, a quarter of a company’s market value can be directly related to its reputation, and 87% of executives think that reputational challenges are more important than other strategic risks (Blanchard, 2019). Branding experts Susan Fournier and Shuba Srinivasan wrote: “Of all the assets under marketing control, brands are perhaps the most valued. A strong brand attracts new customers, retains existing customers and offers a platform for the introduction of new products. A strong brand can reduce risk by encouraging broader stock ownership, insulating a company from market downturns, granting protection from product failures and reducing variability and volatility in future cash flows” (Fournier & Srinivasan, 2018).

Therefore, a well-known brand with a good reputation seems to be very important for companies and a relevant trust factor for customers’ purchase decisions – at least in the offline world. Do the same rules apply in the online world, where many different products are available and easily comparable (in price) at any time? How do the Leaders of Tomorrow rate the importance of positive brand recognition in the online world compared to the offline world?

The largest proportion, almost half of the respondents, see no difference between the relevance of a good brand reputation in the online versus the offline world. This message alone should put marketing managers in a good mood. After all, in the early days of e-commerce, there were speculations, rumors and discussions on whether brands were doomed in view of the new transparency – especially of prices – on the internet. But the Leaders of Tomorrow’s message gets even more positive: While only 13% of the survey participants believe that the importance of a strong brand is less than in the offline world, significantly more see it exactly the opposite way. A total of 37% believe that brand reputation is even more important in the online world than in the offline domain. However, this does not mean that it will become easier to build and maintain a good brand image. The challenges for a successful brand presence on the internet may become even more diverse and greater than they are today.

Read the full Voices of the Leaders of Tomorrow Report here for all findings and detailed analysis.

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