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Ursula Burns: Leader of one of the major U.S. companies

pagoskawaii 16 de January del 2017 Business
Where you are doesn’t define what you are. With these words, the mother of Ursula Burns planted the seed that would drive her daughter throughout her entire life. Way before the lower east side of Manhattan was cool, it was considered one of the most dangerous in the city, it was the turf of gangs and was marked by poverty.

Her single mom, who ran a daycare, brought up Ursula in a very rough and tumbled housing project, and with her modest income she was able to send her daughter to catholic schools where she was provided with quality education, however it was understood back then that she was to become one out of three: a nun, a teacher, or a nurse.

So, overcoming the first three hurdles that people used to throw at her, that is, being a woman, black and living in a poor neighborhood, she bypassed also the limited expectations of her teachers and decided to go for engineering and was offered a spot in the freshman class at the Brooklyn Polytechnic school.

Admittedly, she was scared of taking this new step, it would mean going to a different borough every day and sit in a class of predominantly white man, she thought of herself as not smart enough and seriously considered staying in the safer path, yet she decided to move forward and take the necessary courses to catch up with the rest of the students. Moving from chemical engineering to mechanical engineering was a key moment for her, for she had found out finally what she truly loved.

She went on to take an internship in upstate NY and going to an Ivy League School for her graduate degree. Soon, she’d be signing in with Xerox, and they’d be signing with their future CEO.

Not only that, Ursula is actually the first African American woman to be head of a major corporation in America, executives inside and outside the company speak about her frankness, her willingness to take risks, her deep industry knowledge and technical prowess, she’s credited with having an ability to understand the power of innovation and technology by many members of the industry.

According to Catalyst, an advocacy group that tracks women advancement in the workplace, fewer that 16 % of top executives are women, and for minorities the numbers are even worse, and while other women have run major divisions in big companies, she’s actually the first one to lead a large public company.

After her studies at Columbia University she dedicated herself fulltime to her career in Xerox, she took roles of increasing responsibility during a time when the company was becoming outdated by new office printers and Japanese copiers, it needed innovation and Ursula took the necessary steps to make the transition happen, she became partners with the former CEO and helped her come out of the deep crisis they were facing when companies like HP and Canon were taking more and more space in the market.

She’s always been seen as CEO material by her superiors and her peers, and no doubt is an inspiration for women, minorities, and working class people everywhere as an example of what determination can achieve in the face of difficult circumstances.

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