Growth despite the strong franc Growth, recession and the strong franc as an entrepreneurial challenge: this was the debating point for about 300 experts from regional trade and industry and from the HSG on the occasion of the second Eco East Symposium. The conference was organised by the St.Gallen/Appenzell Chamber of Industry and Commerce (IHK). 9 Februay 2015. “Business and values: can growth be a sin?” was the topic of the second Eco East Symposium at the HSG. The consequences of the decision made by the Swiss National Bank to scrap the minimum exchange rate of the franc left an imprint on the discussion during the conference at the University of St.Gallen (HSG). In the lecture on “The strong franc: how to proceed after scrapping the minimum exchange rate of the franc?” experts elucidated various aspects of the strong franc. Expert lawyer Angela Hensch answered questions concerning labour law, and Cantonal Minister of Economic Affairs Benedikt Würth talked about the options open for politics and public administration to support enterprises. Growth from the perspective of business and academia At the beginning of the conference, HSG Vice-President Ulrike Landfester emphasised the importance of education as a basis for growth of any kind. Adrian Künzi, CEO of the private bank Notenstein, explained with the help of statistics how economic growth led to more innovation and technological progress – and thus also to a more efficient use of energy and less environmental pollution. Christof Oswald, Head of Human Resources of Uzwil’s technology group, Bühler, related his experience with Generation Y, i.e. people born between 1980 and 2000. He gave the young generation a good reference – they were capable, demanding and self-confident, but also critical. “Among Generation Y, the desire to experience something special, to be personally involved and to advance their development is particularly striking,” said Oswald. Also young people asked more questions about the meaningfulness of their work and the company’s products. Thinking in generations rather than quarterly periods Diana Gutjahr, co-owner and Member of the Executive Board of Ernst Fischer AG, discussed the topic of “Family businesses – successful because value-oriented?” in a further workshop. For the young businesswoman from the Canton of Thurgau, family businesses constitute the backbone of the Swiss economy. From her point of view, family-run businesses focused on people; they did not strive for total profit optimisation but took their bearings from long-term thinking and continuity instead: “Family businesses think in generations rather than in quarters.” Jürg Stuker, CEO of the digital agency Namics, emphasised how essential good human resource management and recruitment were for a company. Values in business The Eco East Symposium concluded with a panel discussion about values in business and the necessity of growth. The panel consisted of IHK Director Kurt Weigelt, the Thurgau Member of the Council of States Brigitte Häberli (Christian People’s Party) and Marcel Dobler, co-founder and CEO of the online shop Digitec. The Eco East Symposium is the successor event to the traditional IHK Symposium and was organised by the St.Gallen/Appenzell and Thurgau Chambers of Industry and Commerce in cooperation with the University of St.Gallen and Tagblatt Medien.