In her role as Chairman and CEO at Xerox Corporation, Ms. Ursula Burns is very refreshing. If there ever was a person whose behavior should be copied, over and over, Ms. Burns would be the one to imitate.
Elbert Green Hubbard, an exceptional American writer, publisher, artist, and philosopher who passed in 1915 once said, “Do not take life too seriously. You will never get out of it alive.”
He also said something else that relates to Ms. Burns, a modern female role model and hero that goes counter to an industry that guards corporate secrets like gold bullion. Try this one on. “Secrets are things we give to others to keep for us.”
In an article produced by the Huffington Post, Ms. Burns shared that one of the keys to her success was marrying a great man 20 years her senior.
Let’s please take a closer look at someone who seems to have traveled the right paths that can inspire others to greater achievements.
With sales approaching $23 billion, Xerox (NYSE: XRX) is the world’s leading enterprise for business process and document management. When Ms. Burns joined Xerox in 1980 as a mechanical engineering summer intern, the company was the leader in the global photocopying market. As she later assumed roles in product development and planning, the company was securing its leadership position in digital document technologies. From 1992 through 2000, Burns, at a pivotal point in the company’s history, led several business teams including the company’s color business and office network printing business.
Thank you Xerox.com.
Forbes.com adds, “Four years into her tenure Burns and Xerox has managed to shake off the company’s carbon copy reputation. More than 50% of its $22.4 billion in revenue in 2012 came from IT services; meaning if you’ve booked an airline ticket, use an EZ pass, paid a parking ticket or filed a health insurance claim, there’s a good chance Xerox technology processed the back-end.”
The Xerox Company continues relating Ms. Burns was named chief executive officer in July 2009 and shortly after, made the largest acquisition in Xerox history, the $6.4 billion purchase of Affiliated Computer Services, catapulting the company’s presence in the $500 billion business services market and extending the company’s reach into diverse areas of business process and IT outsourcing.
On May 20, 2010, Ms. Burns became chairman of the company, leading the 140,000 people of Xerox who serve clients in more than 160 countries. Building on Xerox’s legacy of innovation, they’re enabling workplaces – from small businesses to large global enterprises — to simplify the way work gets done so they can focus more on what matters most: their real business.
Ms. Burns earned a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from Polytechnic Institute of NYU and a Master of Science degree in mechanical engineering from Columbia University.
In addition to the Xerox board, she is a board director of the American Express Corporation and Exxon Mobil Corporation. 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). In March 2010, U.S. President Barack Obama appointed Burns vice chair of the President’s Export Council.
In terms of her early life, Wikipedia shares, Ms. Burns was raised by a single mother in the Baruch Houses, a New York city housing project. Both of her parents were Panamanian immigrants.
Let’s take a quick look at Panama.
First, we pose a question. What do you know about Panama besides its famous namesake, the Panama Canal?
A fascinating site, visitpanama.com relates some interesting tips that potential retirees are probably not aware of. Many have decided that Panama is a great place to retire. It boasts:
• One of the world’s lowest costs of living for foreigners.
• Convenient use of the U.S. dollar as currency.
• The best retiree benefit program in the world.
Panama features world-class attractions, a vibrant Miami-style city, exotic tropical rainforests, beautiful mountain refuges in the perfect climate, first-rate golfing, diving, fishing, and islands and beaches on both the Pacific and Atlantic coasts. With all this and more, you will never get bored!
Ms. Burn’s bio continues.
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 Polytechnic Institute of NYU in 1980 and a master of science in Mechanical Engineering from Columbia University a year later.
“As I’ve progressed in my career, I’ve come to appreciate — and really value — the other attributes that define a company’s success beyond the P&L: great leadership, long-term financial strength, ethical business practices, evolving business strategies, sound governance, powerful brands, values-based decision-making.” – Ursula Burns, Chairman and CEO
To expand upon her early life, in an interview with Business Week, Ms. Burns acknowledges, “I went to an all-girls Catholic high school. The three things that they focused on were reading, writing, and arithmetic. My goodness, this is a novel idea in this modern society. I was really good at all three of these things. I was particularly good at math. And when I went to my guidance counselor, who was a nun, we talked about what you do for a career. One was nursing. Another one was teaching. And the other one was to be a nun. I realized that I had to look at what I wanted to do for myself. I went to the library and looked in the Barron’s Guide to Colleges and books about careers.”
When you look at Xerox’s core values it is understandable why a person like Ms. Burns would find a mutual attraction.
A company’s success is often defined by its leaders who are on the front line, serving as champions for their people and their customers. Xerox’s business leaders exemplify value-based and results-driven leadership. They pave the way for the next generation of Xerox leadership to accelerate the company’s growth and continue building value for our stakeholders. Preserve biodiversity and the world’s forests.
A Xerox commitment to women is in their sponsoring of the Women’s Alliance. The website states, “Welcome to The Women’s Alliance. If you’re among the hundreds of women who work at Xerox and you want to support your colleagues’ professional and social development, you’ve come to the right place. The Women’s Alliance web site is the place to keep up with the latest issues affecting us, get chapter news and take advantage of networking opportunities.”
One thing that never changes is our core values.
• We succeed through satisfied customers.
• We deliver quality and excellence in all we do.
• We require premium return on assets.
• We use technology to develop market leadership.
• We value our employees.
• We behave responsibly as a corporate citizen.
Female Competition International, fciwomenswrestling.com, fciwomenswrestling2.com is always researching and seeking out women who are making a difference and are change merchants in terms of creating a better world for the present and future generations.[pullquoteleft] Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.
Ms. Ursula Burns is a refreshing addition to a growing number of women who have graduated from college and have made inroads into corporate paved territories. With the great increase in the number of girls attending and graduating from college (please see fciwomenswrestling.com “Gender Reversal Trend”), the future looks bright for high achievers leading the charge towards an exciting future for all of us.
For those of you who had not heard of Ms. Ursula Burns, we gave away her secret and we give you permission to spread the word.
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Sources: www.xerox.com, huffingtonpost.com, brainyquote.com, businessweek.com, Wikipedia, fciwomenswrestling.com, visitpanama.com, Forbes.com, thewomensalliance.net, photos thanks to Wikimedia Commons.