The AO Trustees Meeting 2024

The AO Trustees Meeting 2024 was held at the AO Foundation’s headquarters in Davos, Switzerland, on June 27−29. The format was a one-and-a half-day business meeting, with a strong focus on generation change and the AO’s future mission and purpose. 

AO President Tim Pohlemann opened the meeting by warmly welcoming all to Davos, especially the AO Foundation’s founders Peter Matter and Thomas Rüedi, the new Trustees elected since the last Trustees Meeting in Sydney a year earlier, DePuy Synthes guests, and the Past Presidents joining the meeting on site. Pohlemann also introduced a group of ten young surgeons from all over the world, invited to challenge and inspire the senior AO officers during their meeting.

Arriving at the AO Center on Friday morning, Trustees were split into groups and taken on an interactive tour through the heart of the AO Foundation. AO staff at eight stations introduced them to the different institutes, current projects, innovations and success stories, and highlighted the strong commitment to Davos as the AO’s headquarters in the form of the AO Campus project and the Science Circle, which is scheduled to open in 2027. Throughout the tour, Trustees were asked to answer quiz questions and engage with each other, before enjoying a casual lunch together with AO staff.

After a transfer to the Davos Congress Centre, Trustees were able to briefly engage with the on-site exhibition, which featured innovations, new products, and programs from around the AO. Soon it was time to gather for the associated governance business, including the election of AO Foundation Board members and Members of the Assembly of Trustees.

Reports and elections were followed by a keynote speech from young surgeon Selma Fensel-Merz, who works with AO President Tim Pohlemann at the Universitätsklinikum Homburg Saar in Germany. Fensel-Merz highlighted the need to recognize and break entrenched structures and create perspectives for a new generation of AO members. She stressed the need for a reconciliation of work and family life, as well as mentoring for female leadership, to counteract the current stagnation in women taking up the surgical profession. 

After a second inspiring keynote by futurologist Hartwin Maas, co-founder of the Institute for Generation Research, who gave insights into what moves the different age groups and how future developments in technology and business will influence generations, Trustees gathered at restaurant Ischalp, high above Davos, to reflect on the day’s events.

Saturday morning started with a keynote from Aldo Denti, Company Group Chairman at DePuy Synthes, who continued the general theme of generation change with insights into the industry’s view on talent search and the changing healthcare environment. His presentation provided much food for thought and was followed by a discussion with questions and comments from the assembled Trustees.

The remainder of the final morning was dedicated to breakout sessions looking at topics that included the sustainability, values, and purpose of the AO, the need for change within the organization, the AO’s community structure, and the navigation of global industry challenges.

The AO Trustees Meeting 2024 closed with some final words from Tim Pohlemann and an invitation to the AO Trustees Meeting 2025 at the same time next year in Cartagena, Colombia.