Xerox Chairman and Chief Executive Anne Mulcahy, credited for the company's turnaround over the past several years, will retire on July 1, reported the board of directors on Thursday. President Ursula Burns will become the new CEO.
Starting as a sales rep in 1976, Mulcahy worked her way through various management ranks before becoming president and CEO in 2000 and chairman in 2002. She took on the role at a time of financial turmoil for Xerox and has been praised for revitalizing the company through creative new products and services.
"As CEO, Anne successfully led a multibillion-dollar turnaround of Xerox and transformed the business into an innovative digital technology and services enterprise," said N.J. Nicholas Jr., lead independent director of Xerox's board of directors. "She has consistently demonstrated values-based leadership, strong strategic insight, broad expertise and a remarkable ability to create 'followership' through the respect she earned from Xerox people."
Ursula Burns joined Norwalk, Conn.-based Xerox in 1980 as a summer intern and later took on roles in product development and planning. In 2000, she was appointed senior vice president, Corporate Strategic Services, to lead the company's manufacturing and supply chain operations. By April 2007, Burns had been named president of Xerox.
Mulcahy sees the company in good hands with Burns. "The decision to move on is made easy only in the fact that Ursula Burns is so well-positioned to take Xerox to the next level," said Mulcahy. "Ursula takes on the leadership role the old-fashioned way. She has earned it. And, for that, she has my deep respect and confidence."
Mulcahy has been a prominent figure in the tech industry, both for her leadership role at Xerox and her position as one of the few female CEOs in a business often see as male territory. She also has served on President Obama's Transition Economic Advisory Board, a 17-member team of political, financial, and corporate leaders.
In a CNET interview in 2006, Mulcahy discussed the challenges of leading Xerox and praised the company's employees for pitching in to pull it out of its then slump. In June 2008, she sat down with CNET to discuss the business environment and her vision for Xerox.
Like Mulcahy, Burns faces her own challenges in taking on the new job. Xerox has been battered by the global downturn, with lower earnings and layoffs announced last year. Income and sales were down the first quarter of 2009 due largely to the drop in technology spending.