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Ursula M. Burns

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Ursula M. Burns

Born: New York, New York, September 20, 1958;

Occupation: Businesswoman;

Position: former Chairwoman, CEO;

Company: VEON;

Industry: Telecommunications;

Residence: United States;

Nationality: American;

Ursula M. Burns was the first black woman to head a Fortune 500 company, Xerox. According to Xerox, she was also the first female chief executive to have replaced another female chief executive at a Fortune 500 company.

Work Experience

Ms. Burns was most recently chairwoman and former CEO of VEON, the world's 11th largest telecoms service provider by subscribers. 

She was Chairwoman of Xerox from 2010 to 2017, and CEO from 2009 to 2016.

She was previously president of Xerox Corporation, before being named by the board to succeed Anne Mulcahy as chief executive officer effective July 1, 2009.

Ms. Burns joined Xerox in 1980 as a mechanical engineering summer intern. She subsequently held several positions in engineering, including product development and planning. In June 1991 she became the executive assistant to Paul A. Allaire, then Xerox chairman and chief executive officer.

From 1992 through 2000, Burns led several business teams, including the office color and fax business, office network copying business and the departmental business unit.

In May 2000, she was named senior vice president, Corporate Strategic Services, and was named president of Xerox Business Group Operations in 2002. She was appointed an officer of the company in 1997 and named a corporate senior vice president in 2000.

In April 2007, Ms. Burns was named president of Xerox, expanding her leadership to also include the company's IT organization, corporate strategy, human resources, corporate marketing and global accounts. At that time, she was also elected a member of the company's Board of Directors.

Board and Advisor Roles

She has also served on a number of professional and community boards, including: 

  • National Association of Manufacturers.
  • Board member, Exxon Mobil Corporation, USA.
  • Board member, Uber Technologies Inc., USA.
  • Senior Advisor, Teneo Inc., USA.
  • Board member, IHS Towers, USA.
  • Board member, Waystar, USA.
  • Board member, American Express.
  • Board member, Boston Scientific Corp.

Philanthropy, Community Service and Memberships

Ms. Burns is currently or was previously involved with a number of community, educational and non-profit organizations including:

  • CASA - Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University. 
  • FIRST - For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, 
  • Trustee, University of Rochester
  • Trustee, Ford Foundation, USA
  • Member, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA
  • Member, NAF - National Academy Foundation, USA
  • Member, Mayo Clinic, USA
  • Member, New York Ballet, USA
  • Member, Cornell Tech Board of Overseers, USA
  • Member, The High Line, USA


Ms. Burns received a bachelor of science degree from Polytechnic Institute of New York in 1980 and a master of science degree in mechanical engineering from Columbia University in 1981.

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