By Frederick H. Lowe
Ursula Burns, the first African-American woman CEO of a Fortune 500 company, will step down from her job later this year to become chairman of the Document Technology Co., which will be created when Xerox Corp. completes its split into two separate, publicly traded companies, Xerox announced Friday. The name of the second company will be Business Process Outsourcing or BPO.
Burns will continue as chairman and CEO of Xerox, until the split is completed. Norwalk, Conn.-based Xerox named Burns CEO in 2009 and chairman the next year.
Her rise to Xerox’s corner office is a black female version of the Horatio Alger story. Burns grew up in a New York City public housing project.
She joined Xerox in 1980 as an intern, eventually holding leadership positions in corporate services, manufacturing and product development.
Burns helped transform Xerox from a documents company to a diversified-business services company. During her tenure, she led Xerox’s $6.4 billion purchase of Affiliated Computer Services, Xerox’s largest deal to date.
Xerox reported 2015 revenues of $18 billion at its May 20 annual meeting. In January, Xerox announced a plan to separate into two companies to increase shareholder value.
Burns will be chairman of the board of directors, but not CEO of the Document Technology Co. There is an ongoing search for a CEO. Document Technology will be a leader in document-management outsourcing with $11 billion in 2015 revenue.
“I am looking forward to my role as chairman of the Document Technology company and to continuing my deep personal and professional commitment to its success,” Burns said in a statement.
After the split, Xerox’s other half will be BPO, a $7 billion company based on 2015 revenues. The business will help clients improve the flow of work.
Whether Xerox’s name will survive, consumers will know in a couple of months when the final names of the new companies will be announced. “It’s still up in the air,” Bill McKee, a Xerox spokesman, told NorthStar News Today.
Xerox, one of the world’s best-known corporations, invented the computer mouse and elements of the personal computer.
Board members hated the products and did not see their potential value. Xerox sold them to Apple and Microsoft. Apple later wanted to buy Xerox.