Shattering the Glass Ceiling, From Intern to CEO: A Look at Ursula Burns


The mother of Ursula Burns constantly told her, “Where she was didn’t define who she was!” and she made sure that her childhood spent in the housing projects on the Lower East Side of Manhattan was not where she remained nor who she became.

ursula burns

Mrs. Burns obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Polytechnic Institute from NYU and a Master of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Columbia University. Believing that with courage to pursue her dreams, support of others, good education and a strong work ethic, Ursula Burns was destined to blaze a trail that would make her mother beam with pride.

Beginning her career at Xerox in 1980 as an intern, I am sure Mrs. Burns didn’t imagine she would become the first African American female CEO of a fortune 500 company 29 years later. Although during her tenure at Xerox they were on the brink of bankruptcy, she chose to stay with the company. Her efforts helped transform the company from potential devastation to the largest acquisition in Xerox history with the $6.4 billion purchase of Affiliated Computer Services adding to its known document technology products. Her positions at Xerox included working in the manufacturing, product development, and corporate departments. Her executive positions began when she was named president of the company in 2007, Chief Executive Officer in 2009 and Chairman in 2010.

Mrs. Ursula Burns is not only a Fierce Fortune 500 leader she is also very much involved in philanthropic and community work. She devotes her time to organizations that focus on supporting the advancement and education of minority and women.

Ursula Burns is living proof that where you come from is not your ultimate destination. Dream Big, Aim High and Claim the spot you want in this world!

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