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The St. Gallen Symposium occurs yearly and is organised by HSG students, where more than 1,000 attendees from 60 countries are in attendance. Every gathering brings together the "Leaders of Today" (decision-makers and thought leaders from the business, political and academic world) with the "Leaders of Tomorrow" (an international collection of the best and the brightest minds from dozens of universities from around the globe). The cross-generational interaction, inspiration and dialogue between the established and the upcoming is an essential component to this event.
47th Symposium from two perspectives:
as a guest and as the future CEO
Beat Ulrich experienced the 47th Symposium "The dilemma of disruption" from a unique perspective. Officially, he attended the three-day affair still as a guest – taking in keynote speeches, rubbing shoulders with participants, and partaking in workshops. Knowing that he was about to assume the role as the Symposium's new CEO in summer 2017 however, Ulrich kept his eye on how he could put his own stamp on this time-honoured event and continuously improve it together with the students and the St. Gallen Foundation team.
"In my previous role with the St.GallenBodensee-Area government agency, part of my focus was to ensure the internationality of the St.Gallen-Thurgau and Appenzeller region and attract new businesses and people to the area. My work with the Symposium will be quite different, some of these same goals will remain."
As a HSG alumnus and someone who has worked to widen the reputation of St.Gallen, Ulrich already has a few notions of how the Symposium will move forward. Digitalisation and new formats will be used to enrich and steadily modernise the whole event. He also believes that this conference is truly the strongest international event in Eastern Switzerland and, hence, communicating its value to the region is important. He also is a firm believer in the value created among the ideas generated during the sessions. "There is real value in discussing ideas. When people with different cultural, educational or generational backgrounds are brought together to discuss issues in an open forum, sometimes magical things happen. The value that this has is difficult to measure, but there is a noteworthy impact year by year. For example, two African and a US-student met at the Symposium in 2001 for the first time. During the conference, they came up with what today is known to be one of the most influential think tanks in Africa."
Next year the Symposium's St. Gallen Wings of Excellence Award, which encourages students to find solutions to global problems and creates around 1,000 ideas per year, will celebrate its 30th anniversary. Plans are on in the works to do something special to recognise this accomplishment.