Campus - 18.05.2015 - 00:00 

After the symposium

The 45th St. Gallen Symposium is history. HSG student Sophie Kwisda spoke to co-organiser Jean-Rodolphe Linder about his experiences during the two days in May and about tips for students organising the next symposium.


15 May 2015. Sophie Kwisda: Jean-Rodolphe, the 45th symposium ended on Saturday and the university returned to its normal quiet state. Are there still some activities going on in the background?
Jean-Rodolphe Linder: All the equipment that was used has been taken down and returned. All the facilities we used have been restored to their original condition. All IT systems and files have been updated and handed off to the new team. We are still waiting for participants’ feedback, which will be included in a special-edition magazine that the university will send out as a souvenir. So there is still a lot to do.

How was the atmosphere among the participants and what feedback did you receive?
The general feedback was very good. We had a particularly exciting program and incredibly good speakers this year and the symposium organization also went very well. The evening events were very well attended. Of course, as always, there were a few areas that needed improvement. They were small, behind-the-scene details, and the participants most likely did not notice them.

What is a concrete example of those areas needing improvement?

The ice did not arrive on time, for example. Also, the coordination of the “business rooms” was special this year. Those are rooms that all participants can book and use for one or two hours; for example if they want to discuss something, work or talk on the phone. Normally, people go in for an hour, meet up there, talk and then leave. This year, many government officials visited the symposium. They wanted to meet and debate with one another. For example, Malta’s premier and Iceland’s premier met for a couple of hours. The difficult thing was that the participants always used the room spontaneously, but it had to be kept in order at all times. This required our coordination skills.

That sounds as if dialogues were sparked not only between generations but also between individual nations. It is nice to hear that HSG serves as a platform for that. Will the symposium continue in the same fashion next year?

There will be a fair amount of change in the structure of the International Students’ Committee (ISC) that organizes the symposium. As can be seen on the website, the entire ISC year will be reorganized so that it is more compatible with studies. There will no longer be one model where all 25 students are part of everything for a whole year. In the future, there will be three models. One model will be similar to the current one. At the start, during the market phase, the task is to find participants and sponsors for the symposium and then set up the conference during the organisation phase. Additionally, there will be a model in which one student follows activities of only one market from September until the start of the symposium. And a third possibility would be that one only participates in the organisation phase, the event management. Since that won’t start until after winter, compatibility with one’s studies is given.

Is there already a topic for the next symposium?

No, unfortunately not yet. The new team and the St. Gallen Foundation will chose it together.

What tips can you give new team members to take with them for a successful ISC year?

  • Time management: Do not get too stressed in the beginning – night shifts will come by themselves towards the end.
  • Project management: There will be a lot of tasks to deal with at the same time – always stay on top of things.
  • Attitude: Get involved with your contacts. Be open and curious!
  • Expectations: The goal is not the two and a half days in May, but the whole preparation leading up to that.
  • Communication: Communicate with your relatives and acquaintances what you are involved with so they understand what it means to you.
  • Ability to work in a team: Get involved with your teammates – you will spend a lot of time with them.

Other than that, I just have to wish the new team good luck!

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