Building a Diverse Workplace
Ursula Burns is one of the very few Black Americans to serve as CEO of a Fortune 500 Company, and the first Black woman to do so. In this timely and empowering conversation, she offers valuable insights on how to create an environment of diversity and inclusion in a corporation, and why it is imperative and important to do so, as a member of the Board Diversity Action Alliance, leading an effort to support diversity on corporate boards. Candid, substantive and inspiring, Burns reveals what it takes to foster a workplace culture where opportunity is inclusive, and illuminates how corporations, government, society, communities, and families can work together to address these challenges and opportunities.
Business Transformation in a Time of Disruption
As the CEO during a time of great digital disruption, Burns lead corporate mainstay Xerox through a transformation into a software-solutions company and away from its manufacturing foundation. Burns knows that the advantages that get an organization to the top aren't always the ones that keep it there, and a leader responding to disruption has to be willing to jettison what's no longer working, along with the nostalgia that gets in the way of the future. With real-life, hard-won lessons from the CEO-Suite, Burns shares with organizations the mindset, opportunities and pitfalls of strategic resiliency.
Corporate Responsiblity: A Fresh Perspective
In this challenging and optimistic converation, Ursula Burns, former CEO of Xerox - and the first Black woman to head a Fortune 500 company - shares her C-Suite insights on how companies must answer and lead in this time of great disruption and social reckoning. Burns speaks with authority about the business need for strategic and moral clarity, from creating diverse and inclusive workplaces, to communicating purpose-driven missions, to claiming responsibility for the organization's impact on society and the environment.
The Importance of Investment in STEM
Before she became the first Black female CEO of a Fortune 500 company, Ursula Burns was a self-descirbed 'poor Black girl from the Lower East Side.' Burns credits her mother for recognizing her early aptitude for math and making sure that Burns got the best education she could, resulting in a scholarship to the Polytechnic Institute of New York and a degree in mechanical engineering, as well as a Master of Science degree in mechanical engineering from Columbia University. Fast forward a few decades, and CEO Burns was tapped by President Obama to help lead the STEM initiatives and legislative advocacy of the White House. She is a founding member of Change the Equation, a ground-breaking CEO-led non-profit program to boost STEM education. Burns' story exemplifies what an investment in STEM can do for the child and for the future.
Renowned corporate leader Ursula Burns shares her CEO lessons in riveting talks
As the ground-breaking former CEO of Xerox, URSULA BURNS made history as the first Black woman to lead a Fortune 500 Company, guiding the company through significant disruption and massive growth. Her expertise in strategic leadership, as well as supporting diversity the workplace, is highly sought-after and she has shared her insights on CNBC, CNN, Bloomberg, and more. Recently, Burns – who is regularly included on Fortune’s and Forbes’ lists of the world’s most powerful women and serves as Board Director of Exxon Mobil, Nestlé, and Uber – appeared on the HerMoney podcast to share her CEO lessons and high-impact takeaways, as she does in all her riveting keynote speeches and conversations.
The compelling interview touches on the inspiration Burns draws from her mother, the moments in her stunning career that were pivotal for her as a woman and as a leader, the challenges facing women in corporate America today, and the need to elevate more Black women to the C-suite. The former Head of President Obama's White House National Program on STEM shares her incredible journey in Where You Are Is Not Who You Are: A Memoir, which received a rave review by the New York Times. Burns offers insights on leadership, confidence, and transformative change with candor and clarity, inspiring individuals and organizations alike.
Watch Ursula Burns’ interview with The Washington Post >>
Watch Ursula Burns’ interview at UCLA’s John Wooden Global Leadership Awards >>
In her new book, Ursula Burns, the first Black female CEO of a Fortune 500 company, shares her insights on American corporate life and society
In 2009, when she was appointed the Chief Executive Officer of the Xerox Corporation, URSULA BURNS shattered the glass ceiling and made headlines. But the media missed the real story, she insists. “It should have been ‘how did this happen? How did Xerox Corporation produce the first African American woman CEO?’ Not this spectacular story titled, 'Oh, my God, a Black woman making it'.” Where You Are Is Not Who You Are is a smart, no-nonsense book, part memoir and part cultural critique. Burns writes about overcoming the barriers she faced, as well as the challenges and realities of the corporate world. Candid and outspoken, Burns offers a remarkable look inside the C-suites of corporate America through the eyes of a Black woman. Empathetic and dedicated, idealistic and pragmatic, Burns demonstrates that, no matter your circumstances, hard work, grit and a bit of help along the way can change your life—and the world. The memoir received a review in The New York Times.
RESILIENCE PROGRAMMING | Leadership: Former Xerox CEO Ursula Burns is a sought-after voice for her executive experience leading through times of disruption and offers insights on creating diverse and inclusive workplaces
Former Xerox CEO Ursula Burns is a sought-after voice for her executive experience leading through times of disruption and offers insights on creating diverse and inclusive workplaces
Former Xerox CEO URSULA BURNS is a sought-after voice for leadership amid disruption given her executive experience navigating Xerox through a time of great digital upheaval. As one of the few Black CEOs of a Fortune 500 Company - and the first Black female - Burns also offers insights about creating and supporting diversity in the workplace and fostering inclusive capitalism. She's on the Board Diversity Action Alliance, leading an effort to support diversity on corporate boards, and has recently shared her insights on leadership and inclusion on CNBC, CNN, and Bloomberg. Audiences praise Burns for her candor and clarity, honed by her experience in the C-Suite and in the Board Room.
Burns regularly appears on Fortune’s and Forbes’ lists of the world’s most powerful women, is a board director of Exxon Mobil, Nestlé, and Uber. She also provides leadership counsel to several other community, educational and non-profit organizations including the Ford Foundation, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Corporation, Cornell Tech Board of Overseers, the New York City Ballet, and the Mayo Clinic among others.
Ursula Burns has extensive international experience of large companies confronting technology change of their industries. In June 2017 she was appointed as Chairman of VEON Ltd. She became Chairman and CEO in December 2018 until June 2020.
Ursula Burns was the Chairman of the Board of the Xerox Corporation from 2010 to 2017 and Chief Executive Officer from 2009 to 2016. She is currently Chairman of the Board at Teneo Holdings LLC.
Burns joined Xerox as an intern in 1980 and during her career she has held leadership posts spanning corporate services, manufacturing and product development. She was named president in 2007. During her tenure as chief executive officer, she helped the company transform from a global leader in document technology to the world’s most diversified business services company serving enterprises and governments of all sizes. Shortly after being named CEO in 2009, she spearheaded the largest acquisition in Xerox history, the $6.4 billion purchase of Affiliated Computer Services.
In 2016, she led Xerox through a successful separation into two independent, publicly traded companies – Xerox Corporation, which is comprised of the company’s Document Technology and Document Outsourcing businesses, and Conduent Incorporated, a business process services company.
Ursula, who regularly appears on Fortune’s and Forbes’ list of the world’s most powerful women, is currently a board director of Exxon Mobil, Endeavor, and Uber, and was previously on the board at Nestlé. U.S. President Barack Obama appointed Ursula to help lead the White House national program on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) from 2009-2016, and she served as chair of the President’s Export Council from 2015-2016 after service as vice chair 2010-2015. She's also on the Board Diversity Action Alliance, leading an effort to support diversity on corporate boards.
She also provides leadership counsel to several other community, educational and nonprofit organizations including the Ford Foundation, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Corporation, Cornell Tech Board of Overseers, the New York City Ballet, and the Mayo Clinic among others. Burns is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, The Royal Academy of Engineering and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Ursula holds a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Columbia University and a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering from Polytechnic Institute of New York University.