Ursula M. Burns (born September 20, 1958), is an American businesswoman. She is the chairman and CEO of VEON,[2] a senior advisor to Teneo,[3][4] and a non-executive director of Diageo since April 2018. She is also a member of the board of directors of Uber.[5][6][7] In 2009, Burns became CEO of Xerox, the first among black women to be a CEO of a Fortune 500 company, and the first woman to succeed another as head of a Fortune 500 company.[8][9] Burns served as CEO of Xerox 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]

Ursula Burns
Burns in 2004
Ursula M. Burns

(1958-09-20) September 20, 1958 (age 61)
EducationBrooklyn Polytechnic Institute
Columbia University
Known forFormer CEO of Xerox
TitleChairman and CEO, VEON
Senior advisor, Teneo
Board member ofVEON
Spouse(s)Lloyd Bean (died 2019)
Children1 daughter, 1 stepson

Early life and educationEdit

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 careerEdit


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.[4] In 2016, she led Xerox in a split into two independent companies:[5] Xerox Corporation and Conduent Incorporated.[4] 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[5] until May 2017, when she left the Xerox board and her role as chairperson.[31]

Public service rolesEdit

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]

Board rolesEdit

Burns has served on numerous boards, including those of Boston Scientific,[14] FIRST, the 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.[4] In July 2017, it was announced that she would join the board of the beverage company Diageo on April 2, 2018.[5] She joined Teneo as a senior advisor in June 2017.[4] Burns joined the board of directors of Uber in late September 2017.[7]


In July 2017, Burns was elected chairman of VEON, the world's 11th largest telecoms service provider by subscribers,[2] by its board of directors.[37] With the sudden departure of the CEO in March 2018, she was made executive chairman pending a selection process, and in December 2018, she was appointed as CEO.[38]

Community activitiesEdit

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][39] She served as vice chairwoman of the executive committee of The Business Council between 2013 and 2014.[40][41] She has delivered the commencement address at universities including MIT,[42] University of Rochester,[43] Xavier University,[44] Howard University,[45] Williams College,[46] and Georgetown University.[26]

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] In 2018 she was featured among "America's Top 50 Women In Tech".[47]

Personal lifeEdit

Burns was married to Lloyd Bean (1938–2019), who also worked at Xerox, and they lived in Rochester, New York.[27][48] She has a daughter Melissa (born c. 1992) and a stepson 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. ^ "Global leadership". VimpelCom.
  4. ^ a b c d e [2], "Ursula M. Burns joins Teneo as Senior Advisor," Teneo, June 28, 2017
  5. ^ a b c d [3], "Diageo announces appointment to its Board of Directors," Webwire, July 26, 2017
  6. ^ "VEON shareholders elect new independent Supervisory Board directors". VimpelCom.
  7. ^ a b "Travis Kalanick appoints Ursula Burns, John Thain to Uber's board". techcrunch.com. Retrieved 15 August 2018.
  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.
  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. ^ Bicheno, Scott (13 December 2018). "Burns officially made Veon CEO at last". Telecoms.com. Retrieved 10 January 2019.
  39. ^ "Fem Boss: Ursula Burns – Chairman & CEO of Xerox Corporation - Innov8tiv". innov8tiv.com. 27 April 2014. Retrieved 15 August 2018.
  40. ^ "Dow Chairman and CEO Andrew Liveris Elected Chairman, The Business Council" (Press release). Business Wire. October 19, 2012.
  41. ^ Press Release: The Dow Chemical Company, Dow Chairman and CEO Andrew Liveris Elected Chairman, The Business Council, Yahoo!, October 19, 2012
  42. ^ Turner, Elijah Jordan (November 9, 2010). "Xerox CEO Ursula M. Burns to speak at Commencement". The Tech.
  43. ^ "Xerox Corporation CEO UrsulaBurns to Address University of Rochester College Commencement". Rochester.edu.
  44. ^ [13]
  45. ^ [14] "Xerox Chairman & CEO Ursula M. Burns to Deliver Howard University 2015 Commencement Address," Howard University, April 23, 2015
  46. ^ [15] "Ursula M. Burns, Commencement Speaker," Williams College, 2015
  47. ^ "Anne Aaron". Forbes.
  48. ^ https://obits.democratandchronicle.com/obituaries/democratandchronicle/obituary.aspx?n=lloyd-fitzgerald-bean&pid=191256991&fhid=11954
  49. ^ Alesci, Cristina. "Xerox's Ursula Burns: Business is made for men". CNNMoney. Retrieved 2018-01-19.
  50. ^ [16], "Major gifts make major difference," Catholic Courier, Mike Latona, August 4, 2014

Further readingEdit

  • Pendergast, Sara.; Pendergast, Tom; Gale, Thomson (2007). Contemporary Black biography. Volume 60 : profiles from the international Black community. Detroit: Thomson Gale. ISBN 978-1-4144-9766-2. OCLC 170034863.
  • Britton, Dana M.; Hetfield, Lisa (2016). Junctures in women's leadership : business. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press. ISBN 978-0-8135-6593-4. OCLC 917888397.

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit

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