Today, July 1, 2009 Ursula Burns becomes the first black woman to head a Fortune 500 company. Burns assumes the CEO role at Xerox Corporation replacing another woman Anne Mulcahy, 56, who is retiring.
Burns, 50, who grew up in a New York City housing project, began with Xerox in 1980 as a summer engineering intern. In 2002, she was named president of the company and is largely credited with reviving the company after it came close to bankruptcy in 2000.
Burns joins the list of four other black CEOs and15 other women CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. Last year, Burns ranked 10th on Fortune magazine’s top 50 Most Powerful Women in America.
Burns has played a pivotal role at Xerox in recent years: overseeing corporate strategy, global accounts, IT and human resources. Burns brought the company back to profitability again and gained market share building Xerox into the world’s largest maker of high-speed color printers.
Burns talked about the company’s turnaround at Oregon State University last fall.
“We are poised for greatness and for success. We have pulled ourselves back from the brink of bankruptcy and taught ourselves that we can do just about anything we aspire to do, if we work hard and put our head down,” she said.
Congratulations Ursula Burns! Now many little girls will see they can grow up to be America’s first lady or CEO of a Fortune 500 company.
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