For most of us, embarking on a career change as extreme as rocket scientist to start-up investor would leave us quaking in our boots. But for Susana Quintana-Plaza, partner at next47, a venture firm created by Siemens to invest in entrepreneurs, it was a transition that only reinforced her belief that when we’re told we can’t, we actually can.

Susana is an example of a woman who bucked the trend, in both her ability to create things thought impossible and in proving women can work in whatever industry they please. Susana believes that to achieve our goals and pursue our passions, we mustn’t be held back by our own beliefs.

Have a listen to our chat with Susana below — or, if you only have a few minutes spare, scroll down for the highlights.

On encouraging women

“From a young age, girls are taught about our limitations and what our possibilities are. We have been taught you have to behave, you have to be quiet, you have to be supportive and yes, those are all great things to be. But we are not taught that you can do whatever you want. You can achieve whatever you think you can achieve. Don’t give yourself any limitations.”

On bucking the trend

“It gives me great joy to go against what people think is possible. I like to prove people that something they think won’t be done, will be done.”

On her secret to success

“Somebody once asked me ‘why have you, a woman from southern Spain, decided to become an engineer? Or a rocket scientist?’ and I told him: ‘Because nobody ever told me I couldn’t’.”


At Siemens, Susana Quintana-Plaza is a partner at next47, a firm created to identify and create the next generation of businesses. She has 20 years’ experience in the aerospace and energy industries and holds an MBA from Harvard Business School. She lives in London with her husband and two children. Find out more about working with Siemens.

Susana is a Future Maker — one of the 372,000 talented people working with us to shape the future.

Podcast and words: Gemma Milne
 Illustration: Harry Tennant