Xerox is one of America’s most venerable companies. Founded in 1906, its name is virtually synonymous with “photocopy.”
But in recent years, in an era of email and paperless offices, Xerox has struggled to stay relevant. Today, the company is trying to turn itself around and thrive in the digital age.
Leading Xerox through that transformation is Ursula Burns, a woman who has undergone tremendous change in her own life. Burns, 53, grew up in New York City’s Lower East Side, an area she has described as a tough, drug-infested ghetto.
Burns began her career at Xerox in 1980 as an intern, after completing her Master’s degree in mechanical engineering. She rose through the ranks to become the company’s CEO — and the first African-American woman to lead a Fortune 500 company — at a time when less than 20 percent of corporate executives are female.
Burns talks with NPR’s Renee Montagne about her journey from young engineer to CEO and her efforts to transform Xerox from a manufacturing icon into a thriving international services provider.