Board of Directors

St.Gallen Board Retreat

Engage with Peers from Europe’s Leading Boardrooms


Programme Description

The St.Gallen Board Retreat is a joint initiative by the University of St.Gallen and Egon Zehnder. The Retreat has been designed for Europe’s leading Chairs and non-executive directors to engage in discussion and advance boardroom excellence.

We invite you to experience a novel opportunity to liaise with your peers in a trusted and intimate environment outside your own boardroom. The St.Gallen Board Retreat provides a platform carefully curated by renowned governance scholars, global leaders in board consulting and the Retreat’s high-profile Advisory Board (see below). All content is strictly tailored to the challenges facing your board. Overall, the Retreat aims at facilitating peer exchange, sparking inspiration, conveying new insights and creating a positive impact in your boardroom.

Note: If you are not yet a chair or senior board member at a large company and seek to prepare yourself for taking up your first non-executive mandate please consider the Retreat's sister programme, the St.Gallen Board Academy.

Target Audience

The St.Gallen Board Retreat is open to Chairs and senior non-executive directors from large European companies with revenues typically above EUR 2 billion. The Retreat promotes the diversity of thought and experience:

  • All industries are welcome.
  • All ownership types are welcome (e.g. publicly held, private equity-owned, family-controlled).
  • The Retreat should reflect Europe’s plurality of nationalities.
  • Only one member per company board will be admitted.


Start Dates
3 days (Fri-Sun)
Number of ECTS Credits
Level of Experience
Programme Type
CHF 8,900.-
Executive Campus St.Gallen, Holzstrasse 15, 9010 St.Gallen, Switzerland
Individual Modules Bookable
Flexible Entry
Programme Language

Programme Benefits

Engage with peers from Europe’s most important boardrooms: At the St.Gallen Board Retreat you will meet your peers from boardrooms across Europe to discuss, reflect on and resolve challenges facing your board. Selective admission criteria will ensure that you meet relevant peers who can offer novel perspectives on your situation.

Get inspired by personal experiences and hear new evidence-based insights: Learn from the experiences of our Advisory Board members, who will share their personal stories on how they overcame major obstacles. In addition, you will benefit from the governance expertise of leading academics and the hands-on boardroom insights of seasoned consultants.

Obtain tailored solutions that will generate a positive impact in your boardroom: All the Retreat's content will be tailored to the challenges facing your board. Before the programme, we will ask you for your specific priorities and expectations. Based on these inputs the St.Gallen Board Retreat will be designed to address the challenges that are most relevant to you.

Application Criteria

Applicants must have a current mandate as Chair or non-executive director in a large European company with revenues typically above EUR 2 billion. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis within 10 business days.

Course Structure

The St.Gallen Board Retreat is a joint initiative by the University of St.Gallen and Egon Zehnder with the objective to increase board effectiveness. Using an innovative design in an intimate setting, Chairs and seasoned board members from large companies across Europe will work together with academic thought leaders and members of our high-calibre Advisory Board in order to exchange insights and explore new board practices and solutions.

Our highly experienced Advisory Board members will share personal experiences as part of an initial inspiration stream. These experiences will be complemented by an insight stream where scholars provide novel tools and concepts to strengthen boardroom excellence. Finally, a large part of the Retreat will consist of small group discussions within the highly tailored impact stream. The impact stream will draw on participants’ collective insights and will be closely facilitated by St.Gallen’s faculty, Egon Zehnder’s board experts and the Retreat’s distinguished Advisory Board members.

Content & Faculty

The St.Gallen Board Retreat builds on a designated Board Effectiveness Framework organised along four domains essential to board effectiveness. Using the Board Effectiveness Framework as a basis, the St.Gallen Board Retreat curriculum is aligned in accordance with your preferences and priorities. The framework provides structure and conceptual clarity, enabling you to easily synthesise insights across the different domains. It will help to integrate individual topics and challenges in an effort to distil the solutions that will have the greatest impact in your boardroom.

Board Effectiveness Framework 2021


Our Advisory Board members have a strong commitment to advance boardroom leadership and effectiveness:

  • Jill Ader, Chair at Egon Zehnder 
  • Denis Duverne, Fmr. Chair at AXA Group
  • Christoph Franz, Chair at F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd
  • Paul Polman, Fmr. CEO at Unilever NV
  • Jim Snabe, Chair Siemens AG
  • Jon Symonds, Chair at GlaxoSmithKline plc
  • Pauline van der Meer Mohr, Board Member at Ahold Delhaize NV
  • Peter Voser, Chair at ABB Ltd

Based on the needs and priorities of the Retreat's participants, we will source leading faculty from an exclusive pool of academics and board experts in order to deliver the solutions to your board challenge. Potential speakers include:

  • Simon Evenett, Professor of International Trade and Economic Development
  • Karolin Frankenberger, Professor of Executive Education
  • Frank Heckner, Partner at Egon Zehnder
  • Jan Marco Leimeister, Professor of Information Systems
  • Kati Najipoor-Schütte, Partner and Leader of Egon Zehnder's Global CEO Practice
  • Winfried Ruigrok, Professor of International Management

How to apply

Your Application

Please click on the application button on the top right of this page to apply. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis within 10 business days. After you have been admitted we will schedule a short pre-programme interview where you can indicate your priorities and preferences. The final curriculum of the St.Gallen Board Retreat 2022 will be strictly tailored to what matters most to your board.

Further information


Boards’ partnership with executive management is critical. Finding the right balance is difficult. Knowing when and how to switch from a supportive to an interventionist mode is vital.
Denis Duverne
Denis Duverne
Fmr. Chair, AXA Group
Effective governance relies on succession planning and on anticipating how new appointments will affect boardroom dynamics. Getting succession right is both fundamental and challenging.
Christoph Franz
Christoph Franz
Chair, F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd
Boards should support organisations in making a difference, both in financial terms and in infusing a sense of purpose and broader societal responsibility.
Paul Polman
Paul Polman
CEO and Board Member, Unilever NV (2009-2019)
Boards need to become more mindful due to increasing regulatory demands, shareholder activism, digitisation and other mega trends. Non-executives must be both diligent watchdogs and forward-looking strategists.
Peter Voser
Peter Voser
Chair, ABB Ltd

Why HSG?

Executive education at the University of St.Gallen (HSG), one of Europe's leading business universities, provides you with an optimal preparation for the future. The University of St.Gallen is more than just an educational institution; it is a place of inspiration that stimulates you to think. You will acquire up-to-date knowledge that is of great practical relvance, and gain valuable insights. This will enable you to make an important contribution to social and economic progress and to your own personal development. "From insight to impact" is not just our message; it is a promise against which we can be measured. 

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