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Ursula Burns: Successful Women Entrepreneur in the Spotlight

Obbaatt AngadiaMar 02, 2023

In a 2011 interview with Fast Company, Ursula Burns, the former CEO of Xerox, stated, "I am a black woman from New York's Lower East Side. I am not easily intimidated."

If anything summarizes Ursula's work and life philosophy, it is these lines. Ursula Burns is as tough as they come as the first American-African woman to run an S&P 500 firm and the second woman CEO in the history of Xerox. But this was not her greatest victory. It was in 2001, when she and a team of executives led by then-CEO Anne Mulcahy saved Xerox from bankruptcy.

But who is she really?

Ursula Burns | The Economic Club of Washington DCUrsula Burns is a successful entrepreneur and businesswoman who has made a name for herself in the corporate world. She is the former CEO of Xerox Corporation,  where she was the first African-American woman to become CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Ursula currently serves as the Executive Chair of VEON Ltd. She has been an inspiration to many women entrepreneurs, as she has achieved success despite facing numerous challenges in her career. 

Ursula is an advocate for diversity and inclusion in the workplace, and she has been recognized for her leadership skills and commitment to excellence.

She has also been involved in several philanthropic initiatives that focus on empowering women and minorities. Her story serves as an example of what can be achieved when you put your mind to it and work hard towards your goals. Her story serves as an example of what can be achieved when you have determination, hard work, and dedication. 

This blog being a series giving spotlight to successful women who made an impact in their industry, as we celebrate Women's History Month it is important to recognize the accomplishments of women like Ursula Burns.

Ursula Burns: Early years

In Newark, New Jersey, on December 17, 1958, Ursula Burns was born. She is a prominent media figure, an American businesswoman, and the CEO of the Xerox Corporation.

Burns started her legal career at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz as a corporate attorney. She later rose through the ranks to become the Coca-Cola Company's senior vice president and general counsel. From 2001 until her retirement in 2013, she served as the CEO of the Xerox Company.

Burns is a successful woman entrepreneur in the spotlight, and her story is an inspiration to others.  She is evidence that anyone can succeed, regardless of gender or profession. She is an inspiration to all women and serves as living proof of the value of tenacity and hard work.

The accomplishments of Ursula Burns

Ursula Burns is a successful woman entrepreneur who has been in the spotlight for a number of years now.  She holds the distinction of being the first African-American woman and female CEO of a Fortune 500 company, respectively, at Xerox Corporation.

Burns also held the office of US Secretary of Commerce from 2009 until 2013. Over the course of her career, Burns has accomplished a number of noteworthy feats.

She has been a key contributor to Xerox's development into one of the most successful tech companies in the world. She has additionally contributed to the diversification of leadership in American industry and has been a strong advocate for women in the workforce.

Burns is a zealous supporter of education and has donated millions of dollars to numerous organizations that strive to realize this goal. She belongs to both the National Academy of Engineering and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

She is also an exceptional individual who has accomplished a lot in her profession. She has greatly aided in Xerox's success and has done her part to increase diversity at the top of the corporate food chain. She is a cherished community member and a tenacious supporter of education. Burns is a true inspiration to those who want to advance in their careers.

The Lessons of Ursula Burns

Entrepreneur Ursula Burns has made a name for herself in the business world. In the early 1970s, she established Xerox Corp., becoming the first African American woman to lead a Fortune 500 company.

Burns has experienced numerous obstacles throughout her career, but she has never allowed them to stop her. She has continued to succeed financially and personally by heeding the counsel of many accomplished women.

First Black woman CEO in the Fortune 500 - Ursula Burns Here are four lessons from Burns that you may apply to succeed in any field:

  • Stay focused

Burns has always been a focused individual. No matter how challenging the circumstances, she never gave up on her aspirations.

  • Take chances

Burns has never been reluctant to do so, even when they looked to have no possibility of paying off. 

  • Ask for assistance without hesitation

Burns has never been reluctant to do so. She has realized how important it is to surround herself with people who will help her achieve her goals.

  • Persevere

Burns has always been willing to Persevere. No matter how challenging the circumstances, she never gave up on her aspirations. She has constantly believed in acting in the organization's best interests, even if that meant taking chances.

The Importance of Ursula Burns

Ursula Burns is a successful women entrepreneur who has been in the spotlight recently. They have seen through her that everyone can succeed in life, regardless of background or gender. She has shown them that, with the right motivation, everything is achievable.

She counsels female business owners to never lose focus or give up. Additionally, she counsels women to surround themselves with talented individuals who can support them in expanding their enterprises. Burns is an excellent illustration of a successful female entrepreneur, and you should heed her advice.

Her thoughts on work-life balance have been a major debate that has helped women all over the world to understand the value of balancing life and work.

She says that when she started to rise up the corporate ranks, Bean — a research scientist at the same company — retired early to become a stay-at-home dad. Burns’ sister also lived nearby, and sometimes helped out, Burns says.

She had to outsource so as to raise her kids and still work.

“I would not be able to be CEO of the company unless I outsourced the caring for my kids,” Burns, 63, told CNBC Make It in an interview. “I was not a believer that you had to go to all your kids’ games. I just don’t understand what that’s all about.”

That mindset, Burns says, sometimes prompted negative feedback from other parents — but it worked for her. Even when she attended a game, she says, she didn’t watch “every second” of it. Instead, she used the time to relax and do a crossword puzzle.

Advice to young women entrepreneurs

From her life tips on how to succeed as a young woman entrepreneur in her posts and public speaking conventions.

  1. Ignore criticism that you can't succeed.

  2. Have sureness in your skills besides capabilities.

  3. Stay focused and works hard.

  4. Be persistent and never give up.

  5. Persevere through tough times.

Final thoughts on Ursula Burns

Burns is a powerful advocate for women, minorities, and entrepreneurship. She has held many TED talks on the value of education and the requirement for more women in positions of leadership. She is a prominent philanthropist who has offered millions of dollars to diverse causes.

We are hopeful that this essay was useful and that you can utilize a number of lessons learned in your personal business activities.

Thank you for reading!