Time Magazine’s annual “100 Most Influential People” list has named SpaceX President and COO Gwynne Shotwell among its 2020 picks. Appearing under the “Titan” category alongside other famous names such as Sundar Pichai of Alphabet/Google, Shotwell’s 18-year career with Elon Musk’s private spaceflight company was highlighted by former astronaut and first woman to walk in space, Kathryn D. Sullivan.
“She is not only a quintessential engineer with a passion to build things, but also a “people engineer” who thrives on working with colleagues and customers,” Sullivan wrote. “Gwynne Shotwell is helping to launch our future, and I can’t wait to see what she does next.” The high-powered executive was also credited as being an instrumental part of SpaceX’s historic firsts of launching, landing, and recovering commercial spacecraft as well as the first commercial launch and recovery of astronauts.
Time’s “Most Influential” list has been running for nearly 20 years, and multiple staff members of the publication are involved in lengthy discussions about the annual selections. “We see the TIME 100 as more than a list,” detailed Dan Macsai, the TIME 100 editorial director.
“It’s a community of hundreds of leaders from across the years and around the world whose visions can guide us and whose achievements can bring us hope.” This year’s list was a bit more unique in both its creation process and names picked due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, the former involving Zooms and Google Meets, and the latter from the inclusion of a record number of doctors, nurses, and scientists.
Gwynne Shotwell’s storied career stands as an embodiment of success for women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, especially over the last decade. Her position at SpaceX began with a call from Musk asking her to apply for a position as Vice President of Business Development, after which she was interviewed and hired immediately. Shotwell’s prior career experience includes working as an engineer for the Aerospace Corporation and leading a wide array of analytical studies for government agencies geared towards space policy.
Altogether, the COO has used her arsenal of high-valued skills to build a solid customer base at SpaceX, among many other successes. For instance, Shotwell was instrumental in working with Musk to win around $2 billion dollars from NASA for commercial resupply services to the International Space Station, saving SpaceX from bankruptcy in 2008. Her promotions to COO and President soon after followed. Shotwell continues to lead the spaceflight company towards even more monumental achievements which will soon include missions to both the Moon and Mars.
You can watch Gwynne Shotwell’s famous Ted Talk detailing SpaceX’s plans to ferry humans around the Earth in rocket-powered vehicles below: