When it comes to startups, corporations and executive leadership, Perry’s seen just about everything. He’s a seasoned entrepreneur, product designer, chief executive and co-founding member of the d.school faculty with over 20 years of experience. He also loves math, motorcycles and making things. Perry brought two out of three of those interests to bear when he created a new category of sportswear by way of a high-performance shoe — a snowshoe — for his product design master’s thesis. He went on to found the Atlas Snowshoe Company, which remains the leader in snowshoe design and technology. Perry sold Atlas and became the head of Sales and Marketing for the clothing brand, Patagonia in 2000. He then went on to be named the CEO of the iconic bag company, Timbuk2 in 2007. Both opportunities gave him extensive experience in brand turn-around, design and innovation. Despite his years running startups and corporations, Perry’s true calling is teaching. He leverages the breadth and depth of his experience as he pushes his students to bring rigor and precision to their fast-paced design work. His students often tell him that, while they were intimidated by him during the course, they’re grateful for the pressure he placed on them to exceed their own expectations. Perry is a founding teaching team member for the d.school’s startup gauntlet class, Launchpad, the innovation leadership course, d.leadership and the week-long executive education intensive, Bootcamp. He is also on the teaching teams for the personal development course, Designer in Society and the organizational change course, d.org. In every class, Perry guides his students to look back in order to discover what to do next and works from the unshakeable belief that it’s always possible to see a problem differently.
Perry is an Adjunct Professor and Director of Executive Education at the d.school. He holds a B.A. in Physics from Wesleyan University (1988) and a Master’s degree in Product Design from Stanford University (1991).