After serving in the U.S. Navy and working in sectors ranging from semiconductors to aerospace, defense and aviation, Jennifer Lastra took a big step in her career.
In 2015, she joined with co-founder David Cleverdon to create 360 Immersive, a virtual reality technology company that creates training software specializing in workforce development for a variety of industries.
From navigating her way through male-dominated industries to overcoming the obstacles of unfulfilling careers, Lastra had always kept the entrepreneurial spirit in the back of her mind. In 2014, opportunity came her way. Virtual reality sparked Lastra’s interest from the very first time she put on a headset, she recalled.
“So David found a headset and when I put it on, I was just blown away,” Lastra said. “Thinking about my past, which was all in supporting warfighters, supporting law enforcement, public servants, from shipbuilding to night vision, I thought, ‘oh, my God, this will help people train totally different. This will save people’s lives.’”
The last five years have seen 360 Immersive achieve great success, but haven’t been without their challenges.
“Some of it is getting comfortable with being uncomfortable,” she said. “One of the things that I’m the proudest of myself is being able to stand in and really take honest feedback about where I’m not living my best self.”
Cleverdon admires Lastra’s drive and has come to see her as one of his mentors.
“She just has a tremendous work ethic,” he said. “She’ll do whatever it takes to get the job done.” As CEO, one of Lastra’s biggest passions is to give back to others within the community. “
A big outreach project for us is community service, and that looks like a lot of different things for us,” she said. “I would love to see more focus on STEM education and I believe that our organization can help bring light to STEM and STEM-related fields and get a more diverse representation in the schools, women, minorities… that is huge for us in 2020.”
While being at the helm of a virtual reality company isn’t what Lastra expected to do with her degree in business administration, she believes it was the path that she was meant to go down.
“If you don’t have any expertise in a certain field, you shouldn’t let that sideline you if you see an opportunity and it gets you excited,” Lastra said. “Just because it may not be in your natural background, you shouldn’t just say, ‘oh no, I couldn’t.’ When opportunity knocks, you’ll know — 100% possibility equals 100% opportunity.”