Ursula Burns is the former CEO of Xerox, making her the first black female CEO of a Fortune 500 company. After high school, she attended the Polytechnic Institute of New York University and earned a Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering. After completing her Master’s in Mechanical Engineering from Columbia University, Burns joined Xerox and eventually became its CEO in 2009. Some of her many accomplishments include being named one of the most influential women in 2015 by Forbes, being appointed as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Ford Foundation, and serving as the Vice President of the President’s Export Council in 2010.
Burns and her three siblings were raised by their mother in a Manhattan low-income housing project. In order to have Burns attend a Catholic preparatory school, her mother worked multiple jobs. Now that Burns has had a successful career, she has been outspoken about growing up in poverty and has mentored and encouraged women and people of color to enter the tech industry. Burns wants others to know that being a black female is an advantage, because she used her differences to set herself apart from others. One of her pieces of advice is “Never waste a good crisis,” because it was during some trying moments when she gained an incredible experience.