Gwynne Shotwell is an American businesswoman and engineer, who is the President and Chief Operating Officer of SpaceX. She has been listed as the 55th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes, in 2020. She joined SpaceX in 2002. SpaceX, which was founded by Elon Musk, the same year, is a private, commercial space exploration company. She has helped the company grow throughout these years, and eventually became its President and COO. She is responsible for day-to-day operations as well as managing customer and strategic relations in order to support the growth of the company. She has received several honors as well, throughout her career. In 2012, she was inducted into the Women in Technology International Hall of Fame. In 2017, she was named as the Satellite Executive of the Year 2017. In 2018, she was named among Forbes’ America’s Top 50 Women in Tech.
During her early years, Gwynne Shotwell planned to work in the automotive industry. She was therefore enrolled in Chrysler Corporation’s management training program, but since she wanted a more hands-on role in engineering, she was unable to stay in the industry for long. She later started working at the El Segundo research centre of The Aerospace Corporation in 1988, where she did technical work related to military and space research and development contracts.
As she wanted to build spacecrafts, she eventually left her job at the Aerospace Corporation. She next joined Microcosm Inc., a low-cost rocket builder in El Segundo, as director of the space systems division. She worked on the executive comminity and was in charge of business development.
In 2002, she eventually joined SpaceX. Founded by Elon Musk the same year, it was a private commercial space exploration company. She joined as vice president, and was also given a seat on the board of directors. The company is known for building the Falcon vehicle family, which has launched over 75 times. Shotwell continued working in the company, and over the years, helped it grow. The company had several achievements throughout the years, such as building the first privately funded liquid propellant rocket to reach orbit, in 2008, and it is also the first private company to send a spacecraft to the International Space Station in 2012.
SpaceX also became the first private company ever to successful launch, as well as orbit, and recover a spacecraft in 2010. It has made a multibillion-dollar contract with NASA and delivers astronauts and science instruments to the International Space Station. The company is also working on a next-generation transportation system that might be able to take human beings to Mars sometime in the near future.
In 2013, she gave a TEDx Talk where she discussed the importance of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
In 2019, she also joined the board of directors of Polaris Industries.
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Family & Personal Life
Gwynne Shotwell was born as Gwynne Rowley, on 23rd November 1963, in Evanston, Illinois in the US. She was one of three siblings. She pursued her higher education from Northwestern University, from where she earned a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mathematics.
She is married to Robert Shotwell. He works as an engineer at NASA’S Jet Propulsion Laboratory.