Influential Leaders

Jesse Pipes

Senior Lecturer, Appalachian State University
Recognition Year(s): 2020
Area of Impact: Education or Academics
School: Walker College of Business, Appalachian State University
Location: United States
Jesse Pipes is a senior lecturer in the Department of Management in the Walker College of Business (WCOB) at Appalachian State University, where he teaches entrepreneurship, leadership, and systems thinking. Pipes is passionate about business as a force for good and believes in the power of design thinking to find solutions to the world’s most vexing problems. His teaching prepares and inspires students to use their skills and creativity to build a better world through business.

Pipes’ mission to prepare students as positive change-makers is an outgrowth of his own personal path. As co-founder, board member, and former executive director of World Camp, Inc.—now known as Access Health Africa (AHA)—Pipes brings more than 15 years of experience in the nonprofit sector to the classroom. In Malawi, Africa, Pipes saw first-hand the critical need for better healthcare for its citizens. AHA, a nongovernmental organization, provides public health education in the school system as well as training and supplies for local medical staff to help address the lack of access to much-needed health services in one of the poorest countries in the world. Through his work as a business analyst and operations design specialist at the planning and design firm Destination by Design, as well as through experience working with Moku Zoku, an alternate reality gaming startup, Pipes honed his design-driven approach to problem-solving and entrepreneurship.

Pipes’ unique background of experience in the nonprofit sector and in the field of design and business development are a resource for both his students and aspiring entrepreneurs he mentors and trains. Through workshops, such as those for young African leaders chosen as Mandela Washington Institute Fellows, Pipes shares his expertise with the broader community. In the classroom, Pipes employs high-interaction, open-ended, project-based learning designed to inspire “outside the box” thinking and innovative, practical solutions to social problems. His students’ work is well known in the college, as their final projects are displayed as installations and informative posters throughout the hallways each semester.

His appointment as program director for the William R. Holland International Business Fellowship, the college’s premier faculty-led program, gave Pipes the opportunity to redesign this prestigious international impact exchange. The fellowship, which offers students an applied business experience in Asia focused on research, engagement, and innovation. It creates a context for understanding how regions, nations, and peoples might collaborate for mutual benefit in a global business environment and advances research and collaboration between students and faculty at Appalachian State and Fudan University in Shanghai. Student partners from each institution collaborate and develop strategies to establish breakthrough business models. Under Pipes' direction, these students participate in intensive virtual interaction during the spring semester, host the Chinese delegation each March, and travel to China in May, culminating at the annual Shanghai Forum where they present their findings.

Under Pipes’ leadership, students gain the competencies needed to be global leaders, thinkers, and practitioners. The Holland Fellowship is another important outlet through which Pipes is creating world change-makers, and he recently remarked, “The program provides an experiential educational opportunity that changes their worldview and teaches them how to execute their ideas.”