Powerful Women: Ursula Burns

It’s always exciting and monumental to be the first to do something. Not only did you break a barrier, but also you set a precedent for others to follow and let people know that success in a certain field, which may have once seemed unattainable, is in fact possible.

Ursula M. Burns serves as the Madam Chairperson and CEO of the American multinational document management corporation Xerox. Not only does she hold one of the highest positions in one of the most well known companies, she was the first African-American woman CEO to head a Fortune 500 Company and was the first woman to success another woman as head of a Fortune 500 company.

Ursula Burns did not come from a family of means. A single mother, a Panamanian immigrant, raised her in the Baruch housing projects in New York City. She excelled at school: graduating from Polytechnic Institute of NYA in 180 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering and followed that by obtaining a master of science in Mechanical Engineering from Columbia University.

In 1980, Burns was hired as a summer intern at Xerox and was offered a permanent position one year later, after completing her master’s degree. Burns worked in product development and planning throughout the 80’s, in 1990, senior executive Wayland Hicks, offered Burns a job as his executive assistant. From that point forward, Burns worked her way up through the ranks to Vice President for Global Manufacturing, and Senior Vice President before being named CEO in 2009.

Burns met her husband, Lloyd Bean, through Xerox and lived in Rochester, New York with her daughter Melissa and stepson Malcolm. She is an inspiration to all women who are discouraged in moving up throughout their company.

Ally | Elite.

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