First Black Woman F-500 CEO

Congrats to Ursula Burns!

Xerox Appoints Ursula Burns as CEO

CEO Ursula Burns
CEO Ursula Burns

In a widely expected move that is nonetheless remarkable, Xerox on May 21 named Ursula Burns its next chief executive. Not only is Burns one of the very few female CEOs, she is also the first African American woman to head a public company as sizable as copier maker Xerox, which had sales of $17.6 billion last year. And to have one woman, outgoing CEO Anne Mulcahy, handing the reins of one of the largest U.S. companies to another woman is unprecedented.

The promotion of Burns, 50, was a long time in the making. Like General Electric and Johnson & Johnson, Xerox is known for an emphasis on executive development. “It’s about meritocracy and meritocracy writ large,” says Ilene H. Lang, president and CEO of Catalyst, an advocacy group for women in business. “Here is a company that over decades has been able to see talent wherever it is, even in nontraditional places. That takes work and care and attention.”

Burns’ engineering capability and her experience in a range of Xerox businesses, including supply-chain management, will no doubt serve her well as she navigates in a recession that’s cutting into sales. Having a nontraditional background may also help Burns better develop the next generation of leadership at Xerox, analysts say.

As a former “Xeroid” myself, and engineer – Ms. Burns, you make us proud!

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4 Responses

  1. She’s a amazing, and only 50!

  2. What is interesting is her coming from a engineering background, which has traditionally been death in terms of corporate leadership at Xerox.

  3. I’m also a former Xeroid. I’m proud of and for Ms. Burns.

    I was a “victim” of Paul Allaire’s downsizing in the mid-90’s, and think the Corporation is better off by returning to it’s engineering roots for leadership after the accounting scandal sent a CFO to prison and Allaire out to pasture.

  4. I agree BB. There are a couple of BT family members still at Xerox, so it’s always been a bit of a favorite topic at get togethers.

    I wound up managing a Field Engineering group attached to the Advanced Systems Division. 168 people in my Regional office, 8 were minorities or women…

    Guess whose group the the Minorities and women all wound up in?

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