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By guest blogger Bobby Oglesby

Sam Lipes is a 2008 graduate of the Paper Science & Engineering and Chemical Engineering dual degree program at NC State. Before graduation, he interned for New Page, Georgia Pacific, and MWV giving him a wealth of experience before receiving his diploma. In a short four years after graduation, Mr. Lipes went from Rotational New Engineer for MeadWestvaco in Covington, VA to Lead Financial Analyst at this site.

Sam Lipes

PSE Alumnus Sam Lipes (2nd from left) with current students and MWV co-ops Joo Lee, Bobby Oglesby and Steven Gillespie

How did he get from graduation to where he is now? Mr. Lipes started out working as a New Rotational Engineer for the MWV Covington facility and a mere six months into this program was pulled out to work for the Stocks and Additives Department as a Process Engineer. Little did he know that when he took this job, he was also taking the role of Validator and Raw Materials Coordinator.

While he filled these three roles, he decided that he wanted to pursue an MBA and a Masters in Accounting. After two years of working 50-60 hour weeks while working on his schoolwork every night, he completed his MBA from Liberty University and his Masters in Accounting from Kaplan University. Shortly before finishing his degrees, Mr. Lipes was offered and accepted a new opportunity to work as the Dry End Engineer on one of the Paper Machines. In 2012, Mr. Lipes stepped into the role of Senior Financial Analyst for the entire facility. Four months into this job, he became Lead Financial Analyst and this is the role he currently fills.

When asked what he likes most about his current role as Lead Financial Analyst, Mr. Lipes responded by saying that he likes seeing the big picture. He loves that he gets to see how the entire company works including other mills, specialty chemicals, market strategies, and the business aspect of all the operations. He stated that he takes a great interest in “seeing the goal for the entire mill, not just one process, and seeing how all of those processes come together to achieve that goal.”

Mr. Lipes gives donations every single year to the NC State Pulp & Paper Foundation and the Paper International Experience (PIE). When asked why he gives back he says the answer is fairly simple. When he went to China through the PIE program in 2007, he said that the experience that he had and the things that he got to see just blew him away! “It was just something that was once in a lifetime.” With this experience, he wants to give back so that students can continue to go on these trips like he did and experience seeing the industry outside of the United States. Giving to the foundation is something that he continues to do every year because he received scholarship assistance when he was in school, and he says that he wants to do everything he can to “help other people have the opportunity to experience this amazing program.”

If Sam Lipes could give one piece of advice to students in the PSE program, he would say this: “Take advantage of as many internships and co-ops as you can because that is the only way to get that valuable experience. Change it up, don’t do the same job every summer. Work for different companies serving different roles and figure out what you like!”