WHAT TIME I USUALLY GET UP: I’d like this to be 9am but it’s usually more like 6am! SOMETHING THAT MAKES ME LAUGH: My cat Tigger. SOMETHING THAT MAKES ME GO "AWW": Babies! I’m a total baby pig!
Creating a new wave of comfort and health
SHIFTING GEARS, SHIFTING FOCUS. From a very young age, Jessica Bussert had planned to be in the tech industry for the rest of her life. In her early years, Jessica says she was one of the first "computer geek kids," buying her first computer with paper route money at age twelve. By 15 she had developed and published software and she was creating custom robotics by age seventeen. In college, she founded a tech consulting firm, and a decade later, moved to London after she was hired by a Fortune 100 to lead their European business consulting efforts.
While living in London Jessica came to terms with her gender identity issues and decided to transition. Initially, her employer seemed open to her transition from male to female, but they didn't stay that way. Jessica and her company were eventually embroiled in a massive, high-profile lawsuit that made international headlines, ultimately outing her to the world. Jessica found herself effectively blackballed within her industry and was unable to find employment. She ended up losing her work permit and her home in London. She returned to the US to try and pick up the pieces.
Jessica ultimately went back to school where she studied nursing, the farthest thing from tech she could find, and an opportunity to refocus her life on something positive. She focused on emergency medicine and ultimately took a job in a local ER.
One afternoon, a disabled veteran arrived in her unit and changed everything for Jessica once again: "He was septic and had the worst bed sores you could ever imagine. It was just heartbreaking. You could literally see to his bones."
The man explained that his doctor had prescribed a $4,000 wheelchair cushion to help treat his wounds, but there was no way he could afford it. Jessica was shocked to find that such an expensive cushion existed. "It really upset me that someone who had served our country couldn't afford his basic care. Furthermore, I felt that the cushion company was just profiteering off of human suffering."
That day, Jessica realized she could combine her technical skills with her healthcare experience to create a better solution that would be affordable to anyone who needed it.
PUSHING TOWARD A FUTURE FOR OTHERS. Jessica founded Wave Therapeutics, a company that helps prevent pressure injuries with smart cushioning technology and actionable analytics. "60,000 Americans die every year from bed sores. And that's not even touching the numbers of people who are fully debilitated by having to live with them." Jessica pauses, wondering aloud what might have happened if she could have thought of this years sooner, wondering how many more lives could have been saved.
Jessica sees that her struggles have inspired her success, saying, "The ironic thing is that if I had never been discriminated against years ago, I would never taken the route that I did." She also notes, "As a trans woman, I feel like I often have to fight for every part of entrepreneurialism. I'm often surrounded by people looking to say 'no' even if you have the best ideas, the best intentions. The sector isn't yet fully accepting. So you have to be your own best champion. No one is going to hand you things on a plate. You have to be prepared to get knocked down."
Resilience seems to be the key to Jessica's success. She observes that "when some people get knocked down, they spring back, ready to knock others down. It's fairly natural. But it's never been a part of my life. When others tear me down, I get really empathic and realize that others suffer and feel marginalized and disadvantaged too. And my heart grows. I reflect and reroute. It makes me smarter and a more compassionate leader."