Black History Month: Ursula Burns

It’s about time, I got a woman into the mix. Too often we here about Madame CJ Walker, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, and Rosa Parks and other influential black women go unnoticed.

I am definitely a business guy. So i wanted to talk about a business woman, Ursula Burns. Burns is the 1st African American woman CEO of a Fortune 500 company, Xerox. She also serves as the Madam Chairman and ranks as #11 Most Powerful Women in the World according to Forbes.

Burns was raised by a single mother in, a New York city housing project. Both of her parents were Panamanian immigrants. She attended Cathedral High School, a Catholic all-girls school on East 56th Street in New York. She went on to obtain a bachelor of science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Polytechnic Institute of NYU in 1980 and a master of science in Mechanical Engineering from Columbia University a year later.

In year three as CEO, Burns is still trying to reframe Xerox as a services business rather than a strict seller of printers and copiers. Services like managing electronic ticket transactions, road tolls and parking meters now bring in half of all revenues, and Burns sees continued growth through small acquisitions of health care and processing technologies. After beginning her career at Xerox in 1980 as a summer engineering intern, Burns climbed the ranks to eventually become the first black woman ever to run a major U.S. corporation. This year she spoke out against Augusta National Golf Club’s male-only membership policy, saying “it’s ridiculous” and, if unchanged, Xerox wouldn’t sponsor the Masters on her watch. Perhaps it helped. In August, the club finally opened its membership to women for the first time in 80 years.

Some credit belongs to Wikipedia, Forbes. I wrote the entry paragraphs.


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