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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Young People Need a Voice on the Board

Finding a way to bridge the gap between generations is essential if we are to tackle massive global challenges. The heads of the 51st International Students‘ Committee state their case.

The world is becoming increasingly polarised, with disagreements over everything from COVID-19 pandemic restrictions to climate change, pushing people into opposing camps. Social media, in turn, is amplifying these divisions, with users locked in their own echo chambers. Yet if we are to solve our most pressing problems, we will have to learn to listen to the other side. And cross-generational collaboration will be essential to tackle the scale and complexity of these crises.  

Divisions between different generations are nothing new. Following the international student unrest of 1968, the St Gallen Symposium was founded in 1970 as a platform for the “Leaders of Tomorrow” to debate with senior leaders of today on an equal footing.  

A survey conducted for the Voices of the Leaders of Tomorrow Report 2022 together with the Nuremberg Institute for Market Decisions for the 51st St. Gallen Symposium found that misconceptions between the generations continued to loom large. More than three-quarters of the Leaders of Tomorrow surveyed, aged largely below 35, believe the older generation ignores – intentionally or unintentionally – the vital interests of younger generations. On the other hand, half of today’s leaders aged 45 and older say the younger generation demands too many sacrifices. 

In short, the generational contract – which binds generations through mutual support and responsibilities – has been severely challenged in recent years

Heads of the 51st ISC: Niklas Zeller, Vivian Bernet and Lucas Mortier (from left to right)

As the Heads of the 51st International Students Committee at the St. Gallen Symposium, we have first-hand experience of the power of cross-generational teams. For more than a year, we collaborated in a vibrant and ambitious environment where we pushed one another to perform at our best and learned from each other’s strengths and experiences.

Involve Younger Generations in the Decision-Making Process

We believe that more organisations should take steps to involve younger generations in the decision-making process. Executives, who have long been focused on the quarterly reporting cycle, are being asked to implement measures that may only bear fruit in several decades’ time. As the answers and responses to these multiple challenges are uncertain, there needs to be a shift away from the mindset which prioritises age and experience towards incorporating different perspectives. 

Most leaders of today and tomorrow agree that without the participation of younger generations in important decisions, many institutions will soon deteriorate. Yet differences remain on the extent of their involvement. In our survey, 73% of young leaders said the older generation did not show enough willingness to give them greater decision-making power in the economic sphere, while almost half of current leaders said the younger generation did not show enough willingness to take real responsibility in the economy.

But refusing to give younger people more responsibility goes against demographic trends. More than a third of the US workforce are Millennials, making them the largest group, according to the Pew Research Center. And by 2030 the number of Generation Z workers (those born from 1997 onwards) is expected to triple. At the same time, the average age of all S&P 500 independent directors is 63, largely unchanged since 2009, according to the US Spencer Stuart Board Index. The average age of new directors has even increased by a year to 57.8 compared with 2010. 

We May Need Quotas For Young People on Executive and Supervisory Boards

Shadow boards – a group of non-executive employees who work with senior executives on strategic initiatives – are one way for organisations to leverage insights from younger generations and diversify the perspectives to which executives are exposed. Our own research shows that they can often bridge the gap across generations and foster respect and understanding.

Reverse mentoring, which pairs more junior colleagues with senior leaders and executives, to provide fresh perspectives on trends such as technology and culture, can also be fruitful for dismantling misconceptions between generations.

While we welcome such initiatives, it is important that the recommendations received are not only heard but also implemented. Older generations appear to be ready to take the next step. Some 66% of today’s leaders agree that “the older generation does not show enough willingness to give greater decision-making power to the younger generation in the economic sphere”. In turn, they appear open to what may be considered a controversial but necessary measure: two-thirds of senior leaders view minimum quotas in economic and political bodies as necessary to ensure the younger generation’s participation in decision making. 

Quotas for younger people – although problematic – could be one way to try to enforce representation of fresh viewpoints on executive boards. The downside is that people are often skeptical about quota hires. As a compromise, companies could ensure that they have a few younger non-executive board members. Then as the idea becomes more acceptable, the goal in 10 years’ time would be to have one or two board members under 30 on every executive board.   

The rise of social media as a primary source of information for many people adds to the urgency for greater cross-generational collaboration. Young and old are increasingly living in filter bubbles, excluding perspectives different from their own. This polarisation is leading to rising social unrest and risks undermining power structures. To counter this trend, education will be essential to ensure that younger generations are equipped with the tools to critically analyse sources and search out information based on fact. We also need to create more opportunities for young and old to come together to exchange views and engage in dialogue. Enhancing the power of cross-generational teams will be a vital step.

This article has first been published on I by IMD.

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