The 43rd St Gallen Symposium

In early May I was lucky enough to attend the 43rd St Gallen Symposium along with four other kiwis; one in NZ, one in the UK, one in Oz and one in the US.

The symposium brings together 200 of the world’s ‘leaders of tomorrow’ from 60 nations, and mixes them with 600 ‘leaders of today’ in the middle of a quant Swiss metropolitan. The symposium was built on the a need to bridge the gap inter-generational gap between these different groups of leaders through exchanging in dialogue. The theme of the symposium this year was ‘Rewarding Courage’.

Given the symposium was centred in the middle of Europe many of the attendees were from this region and there was certainly a strong flavour for banking and insurance industry about (also because they sponsored the event too).

The four other kiwis were:

  • Ipshita Mandal: PhD student at Cambridge University and Founder of Global Biotech Revolution
  • Divya Dhar: Young NZ of the Year, Student at Wharton Business School and Harvard University,  Founder of P3 Foundation
  • Sam Johnson: Founder of Student Volunteer Army, Volunteer Army Foundation, Young NZ of the Year, Ministry of Awesome
  • Scott  Colvin: Music degree from Otago and now pursuing a PhD in music in Oz.


Key takeaways:

  1. Over the next 5-10 years Europe  will not be a great source of innovation. A chief executive of a leading banking corporation, when asked to give advice to the youth today, stated they should get out of Europe and head for China or US, until the European slump has subsided
  2. While the youth have respect for the leaders of today they don’t have faith in their ability to create a world they wish to leave in. As such the leaders of tomorrow are already becoming today’s leaders, forcing change and testing boundaries. They weren’t impressed.
  3. Today’s youth are very individualistic and more socially motivated yet like their predecessors they are prone to falling into the existing structures and processes of our streamlined society. Are differences between generations real or just facet of that aging.
  4. Indonesia is a burgeoning opportunity. Corruption is still present but change is happening quickly. Keep your finger on the pulse.
  5. Banking, insurance and German engineering firms are not sexy to Gen Y. They know this but have yet to figure our how to solve it. If they are after tomorrow’s leaders and change markers this has to change, fast.
  6. We cannot stop another financial crisis from happening. We thought their was sufficient regulation in place to stop the last one.
  7. 3D printing is a game changer. Not for mass production but for where personal manufacturing requests are need to be met now.

Like with all of these kind of events I tend to get more out of socialising with my peers.  Why? Well…because even though they are the ‘Leaders of Tomorrow’ they are doing stuff now! They are changing the world now. To give you a few examples:

  1. Junto Ohki is the founder of ShuR Co Ltd, Japan. It is a Japanese Sign Language service ( . How did he get into sign language? It was simply a hobby!
  2. Olivia Sankara Mukam founder of Harambe-Cameroon, a social venture that promotes entrepreneurship in Cameroon.
  3. Rocco Falconer founder of Planting Promise, a non profit that provides successful, ethical farming and food-processing enterprises by providing equipment, training and support to the workers.
  4. Paola Santana founder of Matternet
  5. Tekeste S. Negga Founder of Kiziga

Here are a few pics from the my week in St Gallen.

DSCF0042 On stage with Paola (Founder of Matternet )

DSCF0018The delegation at ZF ( ZF Friedrichshafen AG)

DSCF0110 The famous St Gallen Cathedral which backs on to the even more famous and UNESCO world heritage site, the Abbey of St Gallen.


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