by David Woodside

This year, I was selected* to attend the 51st St. Gallen Symposium in St. Gallen, Switzerland as a Leader of Tomorrow through the Wings of Excellence Essay Competition. The St. Gallen Symposium brings together leaders from the public, private, and non-profit sectors at the University of St. Gallen to discuss the world’s most pressing issues. The symposium also provides networking events and tourism opportunities for participants.

The symposium began with a “touristic day” in Basel, Switzerland where the Leaders of Tomorrow had the opportunity to explore this historic city and hear from the leaders of Novartis – a large Swiss pharmaceutical company. The following day – Leaders of Tomorrow day – was dedicated to discussing the ideas presented in the Wings of Excellence competition and hearing from leaders of the Swiss business community. The next two days were occupied by the main portion of the symposium where global leaders attended presentations by eminent politicians, activists, and scholars from around the world. For me, the highlights of these presentations were a discussion on journalistic freedom with Nobel Prize Laureate Maria Ressa and a panel on neutrality led by Swiss President Ignazio Cassis.

The opportunity to attend the St. Gallen Symposium was wonderful for both my personal and professional development. Never have I been in a room with so many bright minds and important decision makers. Truly the highlight of the trip was the opportunity to make new friends from around the world and hear unique perspectives on challenging global issues. A particularly important new friend to me was Giselle Schmitz – IPED Class of 2022 – who was also attending the conference. The St. Gallen Symposium was a wonderful experience and I would highly recommend the Wings of Excellence competition to any and all IPED students.

*St. Gallen Symposium participants are selected through an essay competition. Click here to read David’s submission on IPED’s Medium page.