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Xerox CEO Burns to Discuss Leadership and Ethics in UI Lecture

Ursula BurnsXerox CEO Ursula Burns, the first African-American woman to lead a Fortune 500 corporation, will discuss leadership and ethics when she speaks at The University of Iowa's Tippie College of Business on Thursday, March 31.

Burns' lecture begins at 2 p.m. in the Senate Chambers in Old Capitol. Admission is free and open to the public.

Burns, 52, joined the venerable printing, document management, and business processes company in 1980 as an intern while studying for her master's degree in engineering at Columbia University. Later, as senior vice president and then president, she was part of the executive team that rescued Xerox from the brink of bankruptcy and an SEC investigation and restored it to profitability and competitiveness.

Burns became CEO in 2010 and now leads a $22 billion company with more than 136,000 employees worldwide. The company ranks 152 in the most recent Fortune 500 list of America’s largest corporations.

William (Curt) Hunter, dean of the Tippie College of Business, has watched Burns' performance up close as a member of the Xerox board of directors since 2004.

"Ursula Burns is a terrific leader and a remarkable CEO," said Hunter. "She is smart, analytical, decisive, and very strategic. She is a global thinker and understands the critical importance of recruiting, developing, and retaining great talent across the numerous markets and countries where Xerox conducts business. Ursula is committed to producing great outcomes for Xerox's shareholders through an unflagging focus on customer service while doing right by the company's employees, suppliers, contractors, and vendors. I also find her to be an engaging, approachable, and very ethical leader."

When Burns took over the reins as CEO from Anne Mulcahey, it also marked the first time a woman had taken over leadership of a Fortune 500 company from another woman. 

Trained as a mechanical engineer, Burns is known in business for her knowledge of the printing industry and her technical prowess. She's also known for her frankness, sharp humor, and willingness to take risks, helping the company expand beyond printers into office networking and other business services. One of her first tasks as CEO was engineering a $6.4 billion acquisition of Affiliated Computer Services, a business process outsourcing company.

Burns and her husband have two college-aged children whom she raised while building her career at Xerox. In 2009, Burns was named by President Barack Obama to help lead the White House national program on STEM--science, technology, engineering, and math education. Obama also appointed her vice chair of the President's Export Council in March 2010.

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