24 September 2020. Dr. h.c. Thomas Schmidheiny was born in Balgach in the Canton of St.Gallen. After his university qualification examinations, he studied machine-building at ETH Zurich and was awarded the degree of ETH engineer in industrial management, as well as control and process engineering. In 1970, he became the technical manager of the Mexican cement producer Cementos Apasco. In 1972, he obtained an MBA from the IMD in Lausanne, and in 1976, he was co-opted onto the executive board of the Holcim cement group (formerly Holderbank). From 1978 to 2001, Thomas Schmidheiny was CEO of Holcim and became a member of the board of directors, which he chaired from 1984 to 2003. In 2015, Holcim merged with its competitor Lafarge in order to become the most powerful company in the construction materials industry. After he retired from the board of directors of LafargeHolcim in 2018, Thomas Schmidheiny was appointed honorary chairman in appreciation of his extraordinary services to the company for almost 50 years. In 1999, Tufts University in Medford, USA, awarded him an honorary doctorate for his commitment to sustainable development.
The Schmidheiny family are the most important patrons in the HSG’s history
The Schmidheiny family are the most important patrons in the history of the University of St.Gallen. Father Max, Thomas and his brother Stephan have exerted a positive influence on the history of the HSG in a variety of ways. At the HSG, Dr. h.c. Thomas Schmidheiny is particularly committed to his father’s heritage: the Chairs in Economics and Law, and since 1991 as a trustee of the Max Schmidheiny Foundation for the benefit of the University of St.Gallen and its institutes. Since 2016, Dr. h.c. Thomas Schmidheiny has been a trustee of the HSG Foundation, and in 2019, he took on the chairmanships of the Law and Economics Foundation St.Gallen and the Max Schmidheiny Foundation at the University of St.Gallen. In the early 1990s, Dr. h.c. Thomas Schmidheiny and his father Max were among the founder members of the Society for the Promotion of Executive Education at the HSG. The property in Holzstrasse, which the Schmidheiny family made available for the realisation of the Executive Campus HSG, deserves special mention. The Executive Campus HSG was inaugurated in 1995, and thus executive education is now the third pillar of the HSG’s self-conception as an integrative business university.
Patron of and participant in the St.Gallen Symposium
Like his father, and like his brother Stephan, Dr. h.c. Thomas Schmidheiny also has close ties to the St. Gallen Symposium, where he has been a patron, regular participant and speaker for decades. Through the connection with the Fletcher School, Thomas Schmidheiny has supported the GLOBE seminar between the HSG and the Fletcher School since 2006, thus enabling the two universities to engage in closer cooperation.
Dr. h.c. Thomas Schmidheiny is among those personalities who have rendered particularly remarkable services to the University of St.Gallen.
Awarded honorary doctorates
This year, honorary doctorates were awarded to Prof. Ann Langley, Ph.D., Prof. Andrea Prat, Ph.D., und Prof. Dr. Clemens Sialm.
Prof. Ann Langley, Ph.D., is a British national and holder of the Chair of Strategic Management in Pluralistic Settings at the Department of Management of HEC in Montréal, Canada. Her intensive research and publication work focuses on the three fields of Management in pluralistic organisations, healthcare management, and process research methods in organisation and management research. Ever since Prof. Ann Langley worked as a visiting professor at the HSG in Autumn Semester 2007, there has been extensive cooperation with the University of St.Gallen. The award of an honorary doctorate allows for the existing cooperation relations in teaching and research to be reinforced and to be further intensified with regard to innovative fields of research which are becoming increasingly relevant to the HSG.
Prof. Andrea Prat, Ph.D., is Richard Paul Richman Professor of Business and Professor of Economics at the Columbia Business School of Columbia University in New York. The Italian national has made a name for himself as a productive and influential economist in the fields of industrial and organisational economics, as well as in political economics and media economics. With the award of the honorary doctorate, the University of St.Gallen pays tributes to his services to research on the impact of mass media and on the regulation of the media market with a special focus on this market’s role in the democratic process.
Prof. Dr. Clemens Sialm is Professor of Finance and Economics at the University of Texas at Austin. His research interests are in the fields of investment, old-age provision and taxation. The Swiss national is among the leading scientists in the sphere of the performance analysis of investment funds, and he has produced trailblazing research work which provides important insights for both academia and practice. He documented, for example, that investment funds with a positive difference between the actual fund yield and the yield of the assets on which the fund is based will achieve an above-average performance in the future. He also made an essential contribution to the conception of how the asset allocation of pension funds responds to changing economic conditions.