Dr Daniel Woker is the former Swiss Ambassador to Australia and now a Senior Lecturer at the University of St Gallen.
The St Gallen Symposium, held annually at the University of St Gallen, Switzerland (my report on the 2012 edition) is smaller, more intimate and, thanks to its large student participation, much younger than its globally famous Alpine neighbour 'Davos'. It featured this year the eminently timely theme of 'rewarding courage', with a consequential emphasis on values.
It took courage for a young student to take on a couple of financial 'masters of the universe' — the heads of HSBC, UBS, Credit Suisse and Zurich Insurance — in the plenum of the Symposium. In the presence of hundreds of corporate onlookers, he asked about the lost credibility of bankers with their clients and the public (see from 41:00). The panel discussion, till then humdrum under the expert but unchallenging guidance of FT Associate Editor Wolfgang Münchau, suddenly sprang to life, with not all the bankers looking very good.
NB: Bree Romuld, a St Gallen student from Melbourne, won one of the three top prizes in the global essay competition held in conjunction with the Symposium. Her paper is titled Global Institutions and Followership: Relearning that Courage Sits in the Crowd, and can be read in full here.