This article is about Ursula Burns, a remarkable woman who was born and raised in the New York housing complex known as the Baruch Houses. Ursula’s journey was marked by tenacity, fortitude, and ground-breaking accomplishments.
The story of academic success
Ursula showed tremendous potential at a young age. She went to Cathedral High School, where her love of academics really started to take off. She started a wonderful educational path after graduating. She enrolled in the mechanical engineering program at the NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering in 1980, and a year later she went on to Columbia University to complete her postgraduate work in the field. The passion and commitment Ursula had shown to her studies will set the stage for her success in the future.
As luck would have it, Ursula landed herself a summer internship at the prestigious company Xerox at the age of 22. She had no idea how this chance would influence the rest of her life. Ursula joined Xerox permanently after earning her master’s degree and quickly immersed herself in several positions and divisions. She attracted the notice of notable executive Wayland Hicks in 1990, who hired her as his executive assistant. However, Ursula’s time working with Wayland was shortened owing to personal issues.
In spite of the setback, Paul Allaire, the chairman and CEO of Xerox at the time, was soon impressed with Ursula’s drive and skills. She started a wonderful professional path when she was hired as his executive assistant in June 1991. Due to Ursula’s dedication and skill, she was able to advance through the ranks, and in 1999, she was appointed vice president for international manufacturing.
Ursula’s professional path crossed that of Anne Mulcahy, the future CEO of Xerox, in May 2000. Ursula and Anne developed a close relationship after Ursula was hired as the senior vice president of corporate strategic services. They would start a transformational journey inside the business together. Because of her commitment and ability to lead, Ursula was appointed president of the company group’s activities in a matter of years.
When Ursula was elected president of Xerox in 2007, she created history. In addition to shattering glass barriers, she also became the first black woman to run a Fortune 500 company when she succeeded Anne Mulcahy as CEO in 2009. Significant accomplishments were made during Ursula’s time at Xerox, including directing the division of Xerox into distinct organizations and supervising the purchase of Affiliated Computer Services.
The impact of Ursula went beyond business. She actively participated in civic responsibilities, chairing the President’s Export Council from 2015 to 2016, and managing the White House’s STEM initiative from 2009 to 2016. She was ranked as the 22nd most influential woman in the world by Forbes in 2014, demonstrating the widespread recognition of her accomplishments.
Beyond her professional successes, Ursula devoted just as much energy to her personal life. She wed fellow Xerox scientist Lloyd Bean, and the two of them settled in Rochester, New York. Ursula loved her daughter Melissa and her stepson Malcolm, who gave her life joy and meaning.
Ursula’s impact grew as her career increased, reaching the boards of esteemed companies including American Express Corporation, Exxon Mobil Corporation, and Datto Inc. Additionally, she invested her time in mentoring and assisting nonprofit, educational, and community organizations, having a profound effect on numerous lives.
Since Ursula’s inspiring story touched so many people, she was frequently requested as a lecturer and mentor. Universities including MIT, the University of Rochester, and Xavier University invited her to speak to their graduating classes because they valued her expertise. Her honors kept coming in, including major mentions on Forbes’ list of the 100 Most Powerful Women in the World and Fortune’s list of the 50 Most Powerful Black Executives in America.
In 2016, Ursula started a new chapter in her life by becoming the CEO of the global telecommunications company VEON. Her selection as CEO was her first foray into managing a non-US company, confirming her reputation as a trailblazing and visionary executive.
Whatever lies next, Ursula Burns has already cemented her place in American history. Her amazing accomplishments cross boundaries, acting as an inspiration to young women who are experiencing persecution and adversity and as a ray of hope for minorities within minorities.
As a result, Ursula Burns’ inspiring life story has inspired many people throughout the years. It serves as a constant reminder that everything is possible if we have passion, drive, and determination, and that we can make a lasting impact on the world.