5 Questions With SpaceX President and COO Gwynne Shotwell

The GenHERation “5 Questions With” Series features our exclusive interviews with the most powerful women in the world to provide you with actionable advice on how to navigate your career path.

Gwynne Shotwell is the President and COO of SpaceX.

1) What do you know now that you wish you knew when you graduated from college?

I wish I had pushed harder for practical application of the course material. I think I would be a better engineer if I had done so. I probably would have paid more attention in class as well and better learned the material.

2) Which college class best prepared you for your professional career?

My Heat Transfer class or my (C-17) Rigid Body 3D Rotational Dynamics class. I loved both.The C-17 class made me think really hard whereas the Heat Transfer course was very applied, which ultimately led to me starting my engineering career as a thermal analyst.

3) What is the go-to question you ask interview candidates?

Give me an example of a piece of work that you have done that was excellent.

4) What is the biggest risk you have taken?

Accepting my job at SpaceX. I was a part time single mother and I was leaving a well understood and pretty safe role. It was one of the best decisions I ever made.

5) What is your genius? 

I care deeply about people and I think I am comparatively insightful in understanding them.

You can learn from more of the most powerful women in the world here.

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