Ursula Burns at Xerox Corporation: Breaking the Glass Ceiling

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Case Details:

Case Code : LDEN074
Case Length : 20 Pages
Period : 2000-2011
Pub Date : 2011
Teaching Note : Not Available
Organization : Xerox Corporation
Industry : Document management
Countries : US, Global

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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"I'm an advocate for change and eager to break a little glass when needed. I've always felt that satisfaction with the status quo has always been a recipe for disaster. In today's world, it's like raising the white flag of surrender. So while I honor our past, I embrace change and recognize that as good as we are today, we must be that much better in the future. That's my most important contribution."1

- Ursula Burns, Chairman and CEO of Xerox Corporation, in 2009

"One of the many things I admire about Ursula is her clarity of vision. If you want people to follow, you need to give them a sense of where you are leading them. Ursula knows where she wants to lead and she articulates it exceptionally well. That's one of the things that make her an inspirational leader"2

- Kenneth I. Chenault, Chairman and CEO of American Express Company3 , in 2010


In 2010, US-based Xerox Corporation's (Xerox) CEO Ursula M. Burns (Burns) was named the 20th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes4 , for her role in reorganizing the iconic copier and printer giant into a data service company and for being a national advocate for science and math education in the US (Refer to Exhibit I for Forbes list of most powerful woman 2010). Burns's story was all about determination, hard work, and loyalty. The first African-American woman to become head of an S&P 100 company, she was credited with helping build Xerox into the world's largest maker of high speed color printers and for strengthening the company's business model, resulting in a more competent and profitable organization.

Introduction cont.. - Next Page>>

1] "Entrepreneurial Spirit: Ursula Burns Chief Executive Officer," www.outputlinks.com, September 14, 2009
2] Sonia Alleyne, "Unduplicated Success," www.blackenterprise.com, February 1, 2010
3] American Express Company is a global services company. The Company offers credit payment card products and travel-related services to consumers and businesses the world over.
4] Forbes is a business magazine published biweekly by Forbes, an American publishing and media company.


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