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Corporate Leader Ursula M. Burns to Address Graduates at Olin College’s Thirteenth Commencement


The featured speaker at Olin College’s thirteenth Commencement May 20 will be former Xerox CEO Ursula M. Burns, chairwoman of the VEON Supervisory Board and a corporate leader known for her extensive experience helping global companies transform themselves to confront rapid technological change.

Burns was chair of the board of Xerox Corporation from 2010-2017 and chief executive officer from 2009-2016. She was named chairwoman of the board at VEON, a leading global provider of telecommunications and digital services, in 2017.

“We are delighted that Ursula Burns will be our Commencement speaker,” said Olin President Richard K. Miller. “As a leader with wide-ranging experience of how companies can navigate the marketplace in an era of rapid and sometimes disruptive technological change, I think her message will resonate well with our graduates, who must also learn to navigate change as they launch their careers as innovators in today’s global business environment.”

Burns joined Xerox as an intern in 1980 and during her career held leadership posts spanning corporate services, manufacturing and product development. She was named president in 2007.

During her tenure as CEO, she helped the company transform from a global leader in document technology to the world’s most diversified business services company. Shortly after being named CEO in 2009, she spearheaded the largest acquisition in Xerox history, the $6.4 billion purchase of Affiliated Computer Services.

Most recently, in 2016, she led Xerox through a successful separation into two independent, publicly traded companies — Xerox Corporation, which is comprised of the company’s Document Technology and Document Outsourcing businesses, and Conduent Incorporated, a business process services company.

Burns, who regularly appears on Fortune’s and Forbes’ lists of the world’s most powerful women, is a board director of American Express, Exxon Mobil, Nestlé, Uber and VEON. U.S. President Barack Obama appointed her to help lead the White House national program on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) from 2009-2016, and she served as chair of the President’s Export Council from 2015-2016.

Burns also provides leadership counsel to several other community, educational and non-profit organizations, including the Ford Foundation and the MIT Corporation. She is a member of the National Academy of Engineers and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.