Women’s History Month Trivia

by Matiara Huff

Question 5: Who is the first African-American woman to lead an S&P 500 company and currently serves as a founding board director of ‘Change the Equation’?

Ursula Burns

By U.S. Government Printing Office [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Ursula Burns was the first black women to become the CEO of a fortune 500 company. She became CEO of Xerox in July 2009 until December 2016. In 2014 Forbes rated her the 22nd most powerful women in the world. Though both of her parents were Panamanian immigrants, she was raised by her mother alone in a housing project in New York.

Her career at Xerox began as a summer internship which turned into a permanent position a year later when she finished her master’s degree at Columbia University. In January 1990, she became an executive assistant to a then senior executive. In June 1991, she became the executive assistant to then chairman and chief executive Paul Allaire. In 1999 she became vice president for global manufacturing. In May 2000, she became senior vice president of corporate strategic services where she worked closely with soon to be CEO Anne Mulcahy. They both described it as a true partnership.

Since she finished working at Xerox, Burns has become a founding Board Member of Change the Equation, which is an organization working to improve STEM-based education.

Meet Ursula Burns!

Ursula BurnsBy Matiara Huff

Ursula Burns was born on September 20, 1958 to a single mother in the ghetto of New York City. Now she is the CEO of Xerox and the only black woman that is a CEO of a fortune 500 company. She is also the only woman to succeed another woman as CEO to a Fortune 500 company.

In her family, education was the most important thing. Even though her mother didn’t make much money, she still made it a priority to get all of her kids through school. In college Ursula major in Mechanical Engineering at New York University. After, she was offered a summer internship at Xerox that paid for her graduate school. Since then, her professional life has only gotten better. In this interview, she goes into more depth about her journey.