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 Chairpersons 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. The two-day experience aims at facilitating peer exchange, sparking inspiration, conveying new insights and creating a positive impact in your boardroom.

See what you can expect at the St.Gallen Board Retreat:


Target Audience

The St.Gallen Board Retreat is open to Chairpersons and Senior Non-Executive Directors from large European companies with revenues above €2bn. The Retreat promotes the diversity of thought and experience:

  • Only one member per company board will be admitted.
  • 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.


Start Dates
Fully booked
2 days
Number of ECTS Credits
Level of Experience
Programme Type
Short Seminar
CHF 11'900.-
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 ensure that you will 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 of the Retreat's content will be tailored to the challenges facing your board. Prior to 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 Chairperson or Non-Executive Director in a large European company with revenues above €2bn. Preference will be given to applicants with the highest seniority in serving as a Chairperson or Non-Executive Director. 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, Chairmen 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 that is organised along four domains essential to board effectiveness. Using the Board Effectiveness Framework as a basis, we will align the St.Gallen Board Retreat curriculum 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.

St.Gallen Board Effectiveness Framework
St.Gallen Board Effectiveness Framework


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

  • Dr. Josef Ackermann, Chairman Bank of Cyprus Holdings Plc.
  • Denis Duverne, Chairman AXA Group
  • Dr. Christoph Franz, Chairman F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd.
  • Paul Polman, CEO and Board Member Unilever N.V.
  • Peter Voser, Chairman ABB Ltd.
  • Olga Zoutendijk, Board Member ABN AMRO Group N.V.

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
  • Thomas Gutzwiller, Professor of Corporate Transformation
  • Jan Marco Leimeister, Professor of Information Systems
  • Winfried Ruigrok, Professor of International Management
  • Jill Ader, Partner at Egon Zehnder
  • Thomas Allgäuer, Partner at Egon Zehnder
  • David Kidd, Partner at Egon Zehnder
  • Johannes von Schmettow, Partner at Egon Zehnder

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 2019 will be strictly tailored to what matters most to your board.


The evaluation of boardroom effectiveness should be at the heart of every board agenda. Finding the right metrics and approaches is rarely straightforward – but inevitable to optimising board performance.
Dr. Josef Ackermann
Dr. Josef Ackermann
Chairman, Bank of Cyprus Holdings Plc.
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
Chairman, 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.
Dr. Christoph Franz
Dr. Christoph Franz
Chairman, 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 N.V.
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
Chairman, ABB Ltd.
Boards must stand united, especially when a crisis hits. Achieving that goal requires continuous investment in mutual trust and understanding. Exceptional boards foster cohesion in the boardroom – while continuing to promote diversity of thought.
Olga Zoutendijk
Olga Zoutendijk
Board Member, ABN AMRO Group N.V.

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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