Gwynne Shotwell is the president and COO of SpaceX and was inducted into the Space & Satellite Hall of Fame earlier this year.
She’s been at SpaceX since 2002, the year the company was founded, and became its president in 2008. By 2012, she’d helped SpaceX become the first privately funded company to send a spacecraft to the International Space Station, forever changing the space industry.
Under her leadership, SpaceX was the first private company to send a satellite into geostationary orbit, too. Setting new standards is one of her favorite things about the job, with milestones like “landing a first-stage booster on a drone ship and on land, re-flying a rocket, launching Falcon Heavy, the most powerful rocket currently in operation,” she tells us.
Her path to becoming a powerful engineer all began with a smart, and smartly dressed, role model.
“I was inspired to become an engineer by a very smart, well-dressed mechanical engineer who I saw speak at a Society of Women Engineers event as a teenager,” Shotwell says.
“She was doing really critical work and I loved her suit. That’s what a 15-year-old girl connects with. I used to shy away from telling that story, but if that’s what caused me to be an engineer, I think we should talk about that.”
Correction: A previous version of this post misstated Shotwell’s starting date. She began working at SpaceX in 2002, not 2012.