Man on a Mission

A headshot portrait photograph of Mark Gregorio smiling in his black SpaceX shirt
Mark Gregorio, knows something about missions: He spent his early career serving in the U.S. Marine Corps, where he rose to the rank of sergeant and completed a seven-month tour in Iraq. Today, he leads a team at Elon Musk’s SpaceX that produces engine parts for rockets designed to transport people to Mars.

“SpaceX was founded to establish a self-sustaining colony of people living on Mars,” Gregorio says. “In order to do that, we need to drive down the cost of access to space. And in order to do that, we need to be able to make rockets that are reusable.”

When a SpaceX recruiter reached out to Gregorio in 2018 about an opening in human resources, he was beginning his third rotation in GE Aviation’s Human Resources Leadership Program, working at a jet engine manufacturing facility in South Carolina.

“It was totally out of the blue,” he says. “SpaceX was one of two of my dream companies that I would consider leaving GE for. I was really happy there. The other was Tesla. I thought, ‘I may as well just go for it.’”

Gregorio landed the job and still has the voicemail that changed his career.

After several months in human resources, Gregorio shifted to production, first supervising a team that makes the combustion chamber of Merlin engines, which power Falcon Nine rockets. Now he manages the Raptor engine team, building the same component for Starship, the next-generation rocket. Over the years, he has expanded his team and earned a promotion. “We’ve scaled production exponentially, which has been quite the challenge and very rewarding at the same time,” he says.

Gregorio moved into production because he finds it satisfying to see products develop and come to fruition. He also wanted to have a more “direct impact” on the company’s mission. “The products we’re making haven’t been created before. This is the rocket system that we plan to use to take cargo and people to Mars.”

I learned so much in Dorothy Klotz’s Operations Management class that applies to my job every day.

When he was young, a Discovery Channel documentary about the U.S. Marine Corps Boot Camp sparked Gregorio’s desire to serve in the military, and the patriotism he witnessed after 9/11 affirmed it. He joined the reserves and spent every summer through college on active duty before he was deployed.

When he returned to civilian life, Gregorio worked in sales and technical recruiting before enrolling in the MBA program at the Gabelli School.

In addition to making lifelong friends in his cohort and enjoying the “once-in-a-lifetime experience” of living in New York City, the Massachusetts native credits the program for preparing him to succeed.

“I learned so much in Dorothy Klotz’s Operations Management class that applies to my job every day, to the point where people were shocked at how quickly I made the jump from H.R. to production,” he says. Studying with people from diverse backgrounds also helped him develop essential skills to lead project teams.

Asked about landing his “dream job” at SpaceX, Gregorio says he feels privileged. “I work with the smartest, most hardworking people. It’s the most challenging environment I’ve worked in by far, but also the best and the most rewarding.”