CNBC Disruptor 50

SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell hopes her work inspires women to join space companies

Key Points
  • SpaceX president and COO Gwynne Shotwell wants her work to inspire women to pursue success in the space industry.
  • Shotwell herself was inspired as a teenager by a female mechanical engineer.
  • "I loved what she was doing, and I became an engineer because of her," Shotwell said.
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Gwynne Shotwell was a teenager when she met a woman working as a mechanical engineer.

Now the president and COO of SpaceX, the most disruptive space company in the world, told CNBC's Morgan Brennan that this female role model is why she came to be where she is today.

"I loved what she was doing, and I became an engineer because of her," Shotwell said.

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Shotwell has been a member of SpaceX since shortly after its founding in 2002. She now serves as the lieutenant to CEO Elon Musk, spending her day-to-day implementing Musk's vision of building the first company transporting humans to and from Mars. While Shotwell emphasized that it will take time to achieve this otherworldly goal, she also noted that she wants women to know they can aspire to the success she's attained already.

"I think it's important to be as public as I can afford to be and to hopefully inspire women to join me in this incredible field," Shotwell said.

Shotwell loves to work for Musk and called the billionaire entrepreneur "a great boss."

"He's funny. He's incredibly fair, almost to a fault. And he works really hard," Shotwell said.

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SpaceX has surpassed a myriad of milestones in the past year and continues to charge toward new records, such as the first private company to launch humans to orbit or the first rocket launched, landed and launched again in 24 hours. Through all of this, Shotwell said she wants what SpaceX is doing to "reinvigorate the industry," while also getting "young children thinking about being in the space industry again."

"The part of the SpaceX that may have been overlooked, at least by some, is that we're really here to try to do good things," Shotwell added.