Ursula Burns, Chairman of Xerox, former CEO of Xerox from 2009-2016, and the first black-American female CEO to head a Fortune 500 Company. She succeeded Anne Mulcahy as Xerox CEO, making her also the first woman to succeed another woman as head of a Fortune 500 company.
Raised by her mother, a Panamanian immigrant, in the Baruch Houses, a NYC housing project, Ursula first joined Xerox as a summer intern in her 20s. As a founding director of Change the Equation, a STEM-focused initiative, President Obama appointed her to help lead the White House STEM programming during his first term.
“It is important to be an example because it does inspire and spur people who may not have been included before into space of inspiration and spurring. So if I can help that, I'm more than willing to do it and I know that it is part of the responsibility I have. So I have no problem with it and so if you look at me and say, 'Oh my goodness, I would have never thought that I could have been, I could be,' I'd say fine. But when you look at accomplishments, I actually think it's important that we actually measure accomplishments for accomplishments, for the actual content. So I am pleased that I've gotten this far. I did that, I think, by working hard, by gaining respect, by making mistakes and recovering from them, but also not making mistakes and doing things fairly well, by being able to communicate effectively, so all the things that you do when you are a leader of a company -- by taking risks, by being fearless."
"I would prefer to be measured on the last two years of work in this role and the previous 29 years of work getting to this role than having gotten there, if you know what I mean. And that's the whole thing I am trying to keep people's focus on."
Marketplace.org, Photograph via Business Insider