Jess Auerbach
Keynote Speaker

Jess Auerbach Jahajeeah is an associate professor at the Graduate School of Business at the University of Cape Town. There she directs the MPhil in Inclusive Innovation and teaches innovation, business in Africa, ethnography, qualitative research methods and storytelling for impact. 

Jess has lived and worked across the African continent, and has particular expertise in Angola, Mozambique, Mauritius and South Africa. After an MSc in Forced Migration completed at Oxford University, UK, she completed a PhD at Stanford University in 2016. 

Jess was founding faculty at the African Leadership University in Mauritius and Rwanda before returning to South Africa in 2020. She has published extensively, including two books: From Water to Wine: Becoming Middle Class in Angola and Archive of Kindness: the other side of the South African pandemic and is currently working on a third on African digital infrastructure. 

At UCT amongst other roles Jess directs the Light Lab, an interdisciplinary research entity exploring light in knowledge infrastructure as well as in metaphor and popular epistemology. Jess has received multiple awards and affiliations and is, amongst others, a P rated (“future leader”) scholar with the South African National Research Foundation.