Ursula Burns

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Ursula Burns
Born (1958-09-20) September 20, 1958 (age 63)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Alma mater New York University
Columbia University
Occupation Chairwoman of Xerox
Salary US$18.7 million (2014)[1]
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Lloyd Bean

Ursula M. Burns (born September 20, 1958) is an American business leader who has been Chairwoman of Xerox since 2010, and was Xerox CEO from 2009 to 2016.[2] Burns was the first African-American woman CEO to head a Fortune 500 company.[3] She is also the first woman to succeed another woman as head of a Fortune 500 company, having succeeded Anne Mulcahy as CEO of Xerox.[4] In 2014, Forbes rated her the 22nd most powerful woman in the world.[5]

Early life

Burns was raised by a single mother in the Baruch Houses, a New York city housing project.[3] Both of her parents were Panamanian immigrants. She attended Cathedral High School (New York City), a Catholic all-girls school on East 56th Street in New York. She went on to obtain a bachelor of science degree in Mechanical Engineering from New York University Tandon School of Engineering (then Brooklyn Polytechnic) in 1980 and a master of science in Mechanical Engineering from Columbia University a year later.[6][7]

Career at Xerox

In 1980, Burns first worked for Xerox as a summer intern, permanently joining a year later, in 1981, after completing her master's degree. She worked in various roles in product development and planning in the remainder of the 1980s throughout her 20s.[8]

In January 1990, her career took an unexpected turn when Wayland Hicks, then a senior executive, offered Burns a job as his executive assistant. She accepted and worked for him for roughly nine months when she was ready to go back home because she was about to be married to Lloyd Bean.[9] In June 1991, she became executive assistant to then chairman and chief executive Paul Allaire. In 1999, she was named vice president for global manufacturing.[8]

In May 2000, Burns was named senior vice president of corporate strategic services and began working closely with soon to be CEO Anne Mulcahy, in what both women have described as a true partnership. Two years later, Burns became president of business group operations.[10] Then in 2007, Burns assumed the role of president of Xerox.[11] In July 2009, she was named CEO, succeeding Mulcahy, who remained as chairman until May 2010.[8]

In addition to the Xerox board, she is a board director of the American Express Corporation, Exxon Mobil Corporation and Datto Inc. Burns also provides leadership counsel to community, educational and non-profit organizations including FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), National Academy Foundation, MIT, and the U.S. Olympic Committee, among others. She is a founding board director of Change the Equation, which focuses on improving the U.S.'s education system in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). U.S. President Barack Obama appointed Burns to help lead the White House National program on STEM and in 2009 and in March 2010 appointed Burns as vice chair of the President's Export Council.[12]

In December 2016, Burns stepped down as CEO while retaining the title of Chairwoman. Jeff Jacobson was named CEO.

Community activities

Burns has served on numerous professional and community boards, including Exxon Mobil Corporation,[13] American Express, Boston Scientific, FIRST, National Association of Manufacturers, University of Rochester, the MIT Corporation, the Rochester Business Alliance, and the RUMP Group.[6] She had been serving as Vice Chairwoman of the Executive Committee of The Business Council between 2013 and 2014.[14][15] In addition, she is also among the founding Board Directors of Change the Equation, which is an organization that focuses on improving STEM-based education in the United States.[16]

She was the Commencement speaker at MIT's 2011 Commencement, which was also the conclusion of MIT's 150th anniversary celebration.[17] She delivered the 2011 Commencement address at the University of Rochester.[18] She was the 2012 Commencement speaker for Xavier University of Louisiana's May 12 Commencement ceremony, where she also received an honorary degree, one of the institution's highest honors.[19]


Burns made headlines in 2009 when she became the first black-American woman CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Burns has been exceptionally visible during her tenure, making frequent public appearances.

Burns pushed for the $6.4 billion acquisition of Affiliated Computer Services that closed in 2010, though Xerox Corp. (NYSE: XRX) has yet to see any substantial benefit from the deal. Late in 2013, the company called the police prior to announcing 168 layoffs at its Cary, N.C., facility, noting they "were expecting trouble." It was the second round of a total of roughly 500 layoffs.

Burns has been awarded an average of $13 million a year between 2010 and 2012. One former employee, commenting on Glassdoor, said, "Most upper management have received salary increase over the last 6 years, but staff has not."[20]

She has been listed multiple times by Forbes as one of the 100 most powerful women in the world. In 2015, she was listed as the 29th.[5]

Personal life

Burns married Lloyd Bean, who also worked at Xerox,[21] and she resides in Manhattan, New York. She has a daughter Melissa (born c. 1992) and a stepson Malcolm (born c. 1989) who attended MIT.[3][8]


  1. http://www1.salary.com/Ursula-M-Burns-Salary-Bonus-Stock-Options-for-XEROX-CORP.html
  2. Johnson, Kandia (2017-01-06). "Ursula Burns Steps Down as XEROX CEO After Company Split". blackenterprise.com. Black Enterprise Magazine. Retrieved 2017-01-10.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Byrnes, Nanette; Crockett, Roger O. (June 8, 2009). "An Historic Succession At Xerox". Business Week.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Shambora, Jessica (May 22, 2009). "Xerox's next CEO: Ursula Burns".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 5.0 5.1 "The World's 100 Most Powerful Women". Forbes. Forbes. Retrieved 24 June 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Ursula M. Burns". BlackEntrepreneurProfile.com.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Ursula Burns, CEO". Xerox. Retrieved July 28, 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Bryant, Adam (February 20, 2010). "Xerox's New Chief Tries to Redefine Its Culture". The New York Times.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Leading the way: Ursula Burns". London Business School.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Ursula Burns | USOC Board of Directors". Team USA. Retrieved 2016-10-07.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Ursula Burns | USOC Board of Directors". Team USA. Retrieved 2016-10-07.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "Ursula M. Burns, Director since: 2007". Xerox. 2016-08-01. Retrieved 2016-10-07.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Exxonmobil.com
  14. Dow Chairman and CEO Andrew Liveris Elected Chairman, The Business Council, dow.com, October 19, 2012
  15. Press Release: The Dow Chemical Company, Dow Chairman and CEO Andrew Liveris Elected Chairman, The Business Council, Yahoo!, October 19, 2012
  16. http://www.innov8tiv.com/fem-boss-ursula-burns-chairman-ceo-xerox-corporation/
  17. Tech.mit.edu
  18. "Xerox Corporation CEO Ursula Burns to Address University of Rochester College Commencement". Rochester.edu.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. Nola.com
  20. [1], 9-ceos-with-the-absolute-worst-reputations
  21. Morris, Betsy (November 19, 2007). "Xerox's dynamic duo". CNN.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

Business positions
Preceded by
Anne Mulcahy
President of Xerox
Chief Executive Officer of Xerox
Succeeded by
Jeff Jacobson