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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Work will remain in the digital age

The notion that technological innovation destroys jobs is a reoccurring phenomenon in human history. There is a caricature by Honoré Daumier from the peak of the industrial revolution in the 19th century that shows sour-faced horse cab drivers watching steam locomotives pulling cars full of passengers. As we know today, the cab driver’s fears were unfounded. With more effective transport and more efficient division of labor came economic growth, and with it came an increase of individual wealth – which was good for the horse carriage business.

Quite likely the industrial revolution in the late 18th early 19th century was not the first time that disruptive innovation triggered concerns about the future viability of certain skillsets. 4,000 years before the invention of the steam engine, it was probably with similar dread that stone age flint knappers looked at the shiny, mass-produced bronze tools of their metal founding peers.

And with the inexorable march of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, humankind has, once again, arrived at a similar point in history. Concerns that algorithms, programs, and robots replace jobs spread with alarming figures quoted in the media to support this perception.

Yet if we look closer, we find that the digital transformation’s disruptions might not occur where we would expect. Amazon Go is a textbook example. The e-commerce giant’s brick and mortar store concept replaces the need for checkout staff. Unlike similar convenient stores, it has no human cashiers. The stores use computer vision, sensors, and AI-based deep learning. A doomsday scenario for retail workers, as Forbes pointed out, quoting a figure of 2.3 million retail workers in the U.S. alone that could lose their jobs if the Amazon model would catch on.

The opposite is true. In fact, Amazon Go needs more employees than any other convenience store. Chains like 7 Eleven staff their smaller stores with a team of one to three workers per shift. Amazon Go needs seven to ten: four to prepare the fresh food for takeaway dishes, two employees to refill the shelves and one to man the turnstile. The staff running the back office, driving technology development and doing maintenance come on top. Here as well, Amazon’s staffing requirements are higher compared to your regular 7 Eleven.

Amazon, and countless other companies that have deployed Internet of Things (IoT) and AI technology to field new business models, have understood that disruptive innovation is not just a mere cost or labor-saving opportunity. Instead, technological advancement gives greater benefit to make customers’ lives easier, more convenient and more secure, thus adding real value to one’s business model.

However, disruption does not come without change. New jobs and functions will replace old ones, and there will be a massive shift in the demand for new skillsets. This is the real challenge we’re facing. Already today in Germany alone, there is a shortage of 95,000 professionals with data science and data analytics skills. For all of Europe, the skills gap in the information and communications technology (ICT) sector is expected to reach 500,000 by 2020.

As of today, our education systems don’t sufficiently address the challenge of lack of digital skillsets. Most schools still see digital skills as a supplementary proficiency. We must recognize digital literacy as an elemental qualification. Just like numeracy and literacy, digital literacy will be foundational to successful living, learning and participating in future society.

Strong digital proficiency in today’s workforce means much more than internet browsing. Ability to retrieve and access information is not enough. Essential digital skills for 21st-century learners could include managing devices and apps, awareness of privacy & security and a basic understanding of coding. These should be considered and become a component of curriculums in primary schools.

There are many ways to convey these skills; one example is micro bit: a tiny programmable computer that uses a visual programming language designed to turn coding into a means for children to express themselves – like writing, singing, dancing, and painting. The learn and play computer uses sensors and interfaces developed by NXP, and its quick-to-learn coding editor enables children to create completely functional programs in minutes. In the process, they obtain the knowledge to succeed in the digital age and to drive innovation in a changing world.

Future generations will find a work environment in which people will interact ever more closely with machines. One, where computational thinking will not be perceived as an additional qualification but as a basic requirement. Developing and implementing a digital transformation strategy that seizes the tremendous opportunities of the digital age requires a societal effort and cannot be tackled by one actor alone. Complementary to the efforts of governments and politics, strengthening collaboration among the industry, academic research, and society, to develop a holistic approach is essential. Not only to advance the creation of entirely new jobs that today we can’t even think of, but also to have a broad base of digitally skilled talents to fill these positions.

The pace of change will continue to accelerate throughout modern societies. The only constant will be agile, talented people, who can adapt to that change. Whether you like it or not, work will not end in the digital age. We better prepare.

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One comment

  1. Unless private and public sector organizations – and individuals – act now to resolve these challenges, this crisis of trust will only accelerate, with consequences for our economies, people and planet. Digital technologies have enormous economic potential and are critical in reaching the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Yet, digital ethics challenges are already shaping our present and will determine our future social and economic interactions.

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