Ursula Burns

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Ursula Burns
Burns in 2004
BornUrsula M. Burns
(1958-09-20) September 20, 1958 (age 60)
Panama City, Panama
EducationBrooklyn Polytechnic Institute
Columbia University
Known forFormer CEO of Xerox
SalaryUS$18.7 million (2014)[1]
TitleChairman, VEON
Senior advisor, Teneo
Board member ofVEON
Spouse(s)Lloyd Bean
Children1 daughter, 1 stepson

Ursula M. Burns (born September 20, 1958), is an American businesswoman. She is the chairman of VEON,[2] a senior advisor to Teneo,[3] and a non-executive director of the beverage company Diageo since April 2018, among other directorships[4] such as Uber.[5][6] In 2009, Burns became CEO of Xerox, the first black woman CEO to head a Fortune 500 company,[7] and the first woman to succeed another as head of a Fortune 500 company.[8][9] Burns served as Xerox CEO from 2009 to 2016 and Xerox chairwoman from 2010 to 2017.[10][11] In 2014, Forbes rated her the 22nd most powerful woman in the world.[12] Among other civic positions, she was a leader of the STEM program of the White House from 2009 to 2016, and head of the President's Export Council from 2015 until 2016.[13]

Early life and education[edit]

Burns was raised by a single mother in the Baruch Houses, a New York city housing project.[8] Both of her parents were Panamanian immigrants. She attended Cathedral High School, 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 Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute (now New York University Tandon School of Engineering) in 1980 and a master of science in mechanical engineering from Columbia University a year later.[14][15][16] She has since received additional honorary degrees from New York University,[17] Williams College,[18] the University of Pennsylvania,[19] Howard University,[20] Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute,[21] The City College of New York,[22] Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT),[23] the University of Rochester,[24] Xavier University,[25] and Georgetown University.[26]

Business career[edit]

Burns first worked for Xerox as a summer intern in 1980, and permanently joined a year later after completing her master's degree. She worked in various roles in product development and planning at the company for the remainder of the 1980s.[27] 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 before returning home because she was about to be married.[28] In June 1991, she then became executive assistant to then chairman and chief executive Paul Allaire. In 1999, she was named vice president for global manufacturing.[27] 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.[29]

In 2007, Burns assumed the role of president of Xerox.[29] In July 2009 she was named CEO, succeeding Mulcahy, who remained as chairman until May 2010.[27] The first black woman CEO to head a Fortune 500 company,[8] Burns was also the first woman to succeed another woman as head of a Fortune 500 company.[9] Shortly after being named CEO, Burns led the acquisition of Affiliated Computer Services.[3] In 2016, she led Xerox in a split into two independent companies:[4] Xerox Corporation and Conduent Incorporated.[3] She remained chairwoman and CEO of Xerox through the process, and was then appointed chairwoman of the standalone Document Technology company.[30] After stepping down from the position in December 2016, Burns was succeeded by Jeff Jacobson. She retained the title of chairwoman of the newly formed document technology company[4] until May 2017, when she left the Xerox board and her role as chairperson.[31]

U.S. President Barack Obama appointed Burns to help lead the White House National STEM program in 2009,[32][33] and she remained a leader of the STEM program until 2016.[13] In March 2010 President Obama appointed Burns as vice chair of the President's Export Council,[32][33] which she led from 2015 to 2016.[13] Burns has served on numerous boards, including Boston Scientific,[14] FIRST, National Association of Manufacturers, University of Rochester, the MIT Corporation, the Rochester Business Alliance, and the RUMP Group.[14] She remains a board director of the American Express Corporation,[32][34] Exxon Mobil Corporation,[35] Datto Inc.,[32][36] and Nestlé.[3] In July 2017, it was announced that she would join the board of the beverage company Diageo on April 2, 2018.[4] Also in July 2017, she was elected chairwoman of VEON[2] by the VEON board of directors.[37] She joined Teneo as a senior advisor in June 2017.[3] Burns joined the board of Uber in late September 2017.[6]

Community activities[edit]

Burns 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.[32][better source needed] 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).[32][38] She served as vice chairwoman of the executive committee of The Business Council between 2013 and 2014.[39][40] She has delivered the commencement address at universities including MIT,[41] University of Rochester,[42] Xavier University,[43] Howard University,[44] Williams College,[45] and Georgetown University.[26]


Burns made headlines in 2009 when she became the first black woman CEO of a Fortune 500 company.[7] 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.[46] 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.[47]

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."[48]

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.[12]

Personal life[edit]

Burns is married to Lloyd Bean, who also worked at Xerox, and they reside in Rochester, New York.[27] She has a daughter named Melissa (born c. 1992) and a stepson named Malcolm (born c. 1989) who attended MIT.[27][49] Burns has been a major donor to Our Lady of Mercy School for Young Women in New York.[50]


  1. ^ "Browse Executive Salaries, Bonuses, Stock Grants, Options - Salary.com". salary.com. Retrieved 15 August 2018.
  2. ^ a b [1], "VEON names former Xerox CEO Ursula Burns as chairwoman," Reuters, Eric Auchard, July 24, 2017
  3. ^ a b c d e [2], "Ursula M. Burns joins Teneo as Senior Advisor," Teneo, June 28, 2017
  4. ^ a b c d [3], "Diageo announces appointment to its Board of Directors," Webwire, July 26, 2017
  5. ^ "VEON shareholders elect new independent Supervisory Board directors". VimpelCom.
  6. ^ a b "Travis Kalanick appoints Ursula Burns, John Thain to Uber's board". techcrunch.com. Retrieved 15 August 2018.
  7. ^ a b Adamczyk, Alicia. "Ursula Burns Is the First Black Woman CEO of a Fortune 500 Company. Here's How She Measures Success". Money. Retrieved 2017-09-20.
  8. ^ a b c Byrnes, Nanette; Crockett, Roger O. (June 8, 2009). "An Historic Succession At Xerox". Business Week.
  9. ^ a b Shambora, Jessica (May 22, 2009). "Xerox'snext CEO: Ursula Burns".
  10. ^ "Xerox's stock price is rising, but it's not what you think". democratandchronicle.com. Retrieved 15 August 2018.
  11. ^ Johnson, Kandia (2017-01-06). "Ursula Burns Steps Down as XEROX CEO After Company Split". blackenterprise.com. Black Enterprise Magazine. Retrieved 2017-01-10.
  12. ^ a b "The World's 100 Most Powerful Women". Forbes. Forbes. Retrieved 24 June 2014.
  13. ^ a b c [4], "Xerox's Ursula Burns: U.S. Businesses Must Embrace Globalization ", US News, Gaby Galvin, May 5, 2017
  14. ^ a b c "Ursula M. Burns". BlackEntrepreneurProfile.com.
  15. ^ "Ursula Burns, CEO". Xerox. Retrieved July 28, 2016.
  16. ^ "Xerox CEO Ursula Burns MS'82 ME to Speak at Class Day". engineering.columbia.edu. Retrieved 2018-01-19.
  17. ^ [5] "Ursula M. BurnsReceives Honorary Doctorate from NYU," New York University, May 12, 2010
  18. ^ [6] "Williams College Announces its 2015 Honorary Degree Recipients," Williams College, March 18, 2015
  19. ^ [7] "Penn's 2013 Commencement Speaker and Honorary Degree Recipients," University of Pennsylvania, March 12, 2013
  20. ^ ""Recipients of Honorary Degrees and Other University Honors (by year)," Howard University". howard.edu. Retrieved 15 August 2018.
  21. ^ [8] "Remarks at 2013 Honorary Degree Recipients Dinner," Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, May 2013
  22. ^ [9] "CCNY Names Top Three for 2015 Commencement Honors," The City College of New York, March 12, 2015
  23. ^ "Ursula Burns Inspires RIT Graduates to Strive for the 'Unimaginable'". www.rit.edu. Retrieved 15 August 2018.
  24. ^ "Commencement :: University of Rochester". www.rochester.edu. Retrieved 15 August 2018.
  25. ^ "Ursula Burns is Xavier University's commencement speaker". nola.com. Retrieved 15 August 2018.
  26. ^ a b "Georgetown Announces 2018 Commencement Speakers". www.georgetown.edu. Retrieved 15 August 2018.
  27. ^ a b c d e Bryant, Adam (February 20, 2010). "Xerox's New Chief Tries to Redefine Its Culture". The New York Times.
  28. ^ "Leading the way: Ursula Burns". London Business School.
  29. ^ a b "Ursula Burns | USOC Board of Directors". Team USA. Retrieved 2016-10-07.
  30. ^ [10], "Xerox Names Ursula BurnsChairman of Post-Separation Document Technology Company," Xerox, May 20, 2016
  31. ^ [11], "Robert Keegan replaces UrsulaBurns as Xerox chairman," Rochester Business Journal, Velvet Spicer, May 24, 2017
  32. ^ a b c d e f "Ursula M. Burns, Director since: 2007". Xerox. 2016-08-01. Retrieved 2016-10-07.
  33. ^ a b "Ursula M. Burns". The White House. Retrieved 2018-02-23.
  34. ^ "AXP Company Profile & Executives - American Express Co. - Wall Street Journal". quotes.wsj.com. Retrieved 2018-02-23.
  35. ^ "Ursula M. Burns Elected to ExxonMobil Board". ExxonMobil News Releases. Retrieved 15 August 2018.
  36. ^ "Datto, Inc.: Board of Directors - Bloomberg". www.bloomberg.com. Retrieved 2018-02-23.
  37. ^ [12], "VEON board elects former Xerox CEO Ursula Burns as chairman," Reuters and The Economic Times, July 24, 2017
  38. ^ "Fem Boss: Ursula Burns – Chairman & CEO of Xerox Corporation - Innov8tiv". innov8tiv.com. 27 April 2014. Retrieved 15 August 2018.
  39. ^ Dow Chairman and CEO Andrew Liveris Elected Chairman, The Business Council Archived 2012-10-22 at the Wayback Machine., dow.com, October 19, 2012
  40. ^ Press Release: The Dow Chemical Company, Dow Chairman and CEO Andrew Liveris Elected Chairman, The Business Council, Yahoo!, October 19, 2012
  41. ^ #<Author:0x0055dd443cab00>. "Xerox CEO Ursula M. Burns to speak at Commencement - The Tech". mit.edu. Retrieved 15 August 2018.
  42. ^ "Xerox Corporation CEO UrsulaBurns to Address University of Rochester College Commencement". Rochester.edu.
  43. ^ [13]
  44. ^ [14] "Xerox Chairman & CEO Ursula M. Burns to Deliver Howard University 2015 Commencement Address," Howard University, April 23, 2015
  45. ^ [15] "Ursula M. Burns, Commencement Speaker," Williams College, 2015
  46. ^ "Engineering a revolution at Xerox". USA TODAY. Retrieved 2018-01-19.
  47. ^ "Xerox calls police before layoffs". ABC11 Raleigh-Durham. Retrieved 2018-01-19.
  48. ^ [16], 9-ceos-with-the-absolute-worst-reputations
  49. ^ Alesci, Cristina. "Xerox's Ursula Burns: Business is made for men". CNNMoney. Retrieved 2018-01-19.
  50. ^ [17], "Major gifts make major difference," Catholic Courier, Mike Latona, August 4, 2014

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

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