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Ursula Burns on Xerox's transformation to a products and services company

Ursula Burns on Xerox's transformation to a products and services company

Ursula Burns is the first African-American woman Chairman and CEO of a Fortune 500 company and she wears that badge with some pride. Her logic for that is simple: she needs to inspire others - and get some mileage for Xerox, the company she leads - by standing proudly in the limelight. In India late-August to attend Business Today's Most Powerful Women awards, Burns, spoke with Chaitanya Kalbag and Josey Puliyenthuruthel on Xerox's transformation to a products and services company and her personal journey. Edited excerpts:

I use the word 'blue collar' purposefully at Xerox. It is the heart and soul of most economies: Ursula Burns Photo: Rachit Goswami/ I use the word 'blue collar' purposefully at Xerox. It is the heart and soul of most economies: Ursula Burns <em>Photo: Rachit Goswami/</em>
Ursula Burns is the first African American woman CEO of a Fortune 500 company and she wears that badge with some pride. Her logic for that is simple: she needs to inspire others - and get some mileage for Xerox, the company she leads - by standing proudly in the limelight. In India late-August to attend Business Today's Most Powerful Women awards, Burns, spoke with Chaitanya Kalbag and Josey Puliyenthuruthel on Xerox's transformation to a services company and her personal journey. Edited excerpts:

Kalbag: I thought I'd start by asking you a little bit about Xerox and its transformation. It was a company in a near-death experience about 12 or 13 years ago. You took over in 2009, made a huge acquisition. Do you believe that the way the company is being positioned now will make it grow for the next 50 years?

Burns: Absolutely. If I didn't, I'd change the strategy. Part of the responsibility that I have is to assure that all the assets that we have, which are huge, as a company are utilised to the best for our clients and for our shareholders and for our employees. So, I tried to architect a strategy that had all that come together. But, let's go back to, umm, how little a change or how significant a change really happened when I came in. It seems huge because of the acquisition. It seems like, you know, one day in 2009, we woke up decided we were going to be in services and therefore we are going to spend. It turns out that it was nowhere near that dramatic, the act was dramatic, but the transition was a lot smoother and a lot longer in the making than it seems.

Before I became CEO, we had a CEO named Anne Mulcahy who steered the company out of some pretty precarious waters - this near-death experience that you mentioned. In doing that, she allowed me to take over a company that was not in a financial problem, that had flexibility, that had a foundation and strategy that was already started and my job, when I took over was not to determine that strategy but to figure out a way to accelerate it. We had a great brand at that point; we had great capabilities inside the company from a global delivery infrastructure, from an innovation infrastructure, from a brand, that was pretty amazing. We didn't take shortcuts, we worked really hard, we believed...we were kind of a blue collar company so we had great foundation, to actually take on heavy challenges and take on a lot of work. What [Mulcahy] had laid out was yes, we had a great product history, technology history, and we could grow using that technology business into a broader set of services for our company. So under her, we started and nurtured and grew into a document outsourcing business. So this was about taking our technology or other people's technology and helping clients - at that point, it was primarily large clients, manage their document infrastructure efficiently. Think about information technology outsourcing, and put in place document technology outsourcing, which is basically what we did. Instead of people buying, and managing their own set of servers and routers and switches and help desks, which is now outsourced largely by companies all over the world, primarily to Indian companies - we were able to do that with document technology.

What that did, that allowed me and the team that was under Anne at this time was to think about other things that we could do since this business was started. It's pretty close to our core, obviously, we used a lot of technology we were familiar with, managed processes that we were familiar with, all the other ways that we could actually extend our brand, our innovation, our people to serve more clients. And so my role is not thinking about outsourcing. We had to actually think about additional [businesses]. And we looked at and acquired companies in this time, legal outsourcing, e-discovery outsourcing, mortgage processing outsourcing…. The goal we had was to try to continue to buy these small kind of players and grow them up. But when I looked at that, I realized that it would take forever, take a lot of time to buy these small ten million dollar companies. And it's a lot of risk. Because every acquisition, big or small introduces some risk, so if you do it a hundred times, you're bound to fail.

Kalbag: But you have made quite a few.

Burns: Yeah. So what happened is we looked, and looked and looked, and we kept running into this company called ACS that had already consolidated and rolled up a lot of different BPO type of lines. So we bought that company and the reason why that was important is because that allowed us to then buy companies from that point forward - and attach them to something [in ACS]. ACS had a history of buying small companies, putting them into a larger company and stabilizing the small company and growing its scale. So what we did when we bought ACS was we took a big bite, a huge bite of the apple and we accomplished the goal that we wanted to accomplish which was to diversify our BPO play.

Kalbag: So ACS must have brought in a fair bit of expertise on integration...

Burns: They did, the thing that they actually gave us was this idea that you can buy companies and grow them, this idea that you can actually penetrate a customer's account and then grow in that account - selling across lines, deepening the individual offer that you brought to the marketplace. The thing that they didn't have was a brand name, nobody knew what they were, the only people who knew ACS were the people who used them, so every engagement they had was an engagement that first taught us that by the way, here I am, at ACS, this is what I do, you know. They didn't have lot of innovation that changed fundamentally the way that work was done. They are a company that obviously does innovation. But their innovation is literally on the spot -- spot innovation for the company but not a lot of sophisticated platforming or innovation to change fundamentally how work was done and they were not global. They have delivery infrastructure all over and they are services people. So they actually prosecute around the world but they have no real commercial engagement or client facing activities outside of the United States so - and we do, we have presence everywhere in the world. We have, you know, 10,000 people here in India. So what we would do with them is actually bring them around the world, stabilize them and give some credibility and respect in the marketplace by having a brand, Xerox.

Kalbag: But it was a huge bet to make. It was almost a quarter of your revenue.

Burns: Right, we grew the company (Xerox) by $7 billion in revenue from about $16 billion - so yeah, it was a big bet to make. When we bought ACS, we were about 50,000 people and ACS had eight or nine thousand people so it was a challenge. They had lots of people in places that we were not really familiar with. They had a large number of people in Ghana, for example.

Kalbag: You have, say a 160 countries now, quite a few of those came in because of ACS.

Burns: No. The scale was accentuated because of ACS, but we were already operating there, generally selling and customer facing activities which are a smaller number of people than processing activities so basically back office activities which now are global for us. We are now a 140,000 people and 100,000 of them are essentially in our services play - either a BPO, ITO or document outsourcing.

Kalbag: You've really been a lifer at Xerox. Do you think that's made a huge difference, in terms of leadership and the confidence to take the company forward in a time of change and
challenge? Or do you actually think sometimes it could work in the wrong way because you are too hemmed in by old rules and conservatism?

Burns: In the case of Xerox and the last two CEOs at least, it was absolutely required that the leader of the company be somebody who knew a lot about the history of the company and had lived some of it. We started out with this word, blue collar, and I use it purposefully when I talk about Xerox. Blue collar is the heart and soul of most economies. It's people who work hard, people who are not afraid of challenges, people who don't get too wrapped up in position - when a job has to be done, they do it. (These are) people who are fairly egalitarian, who are willing to pull the bail even if that's not their job. They are willing to do any task. They work hard. There's not a lot of stuff that people in my organisation do that I'm not willing to do myself, so we lead by example. Therefore, it is important to have some relevance, some history, in any organisation when you're going through a big change. And if you're not in a crisis, history is unbelievably important. If you're going through a big change and you're nearly dead, it doesn't matter. Often what you're trying to do is throw out a lot of the past anyway.

That's not our goal at all. One of the reasons why Anne was chosen was that she knew what [Xerox's] strengths were. She lived the strengths in some cases, created some of those strengths - it was really important that she made the changes that we needed to make, without destroying the past. So in the change that we are making now, from a product only business to a product and services business - the "and" is important - if I don't know enough about what we did in the past, then I literally would sacrifice and make huge trade-offs and lot of mistakes about what to keep and how do we grow and how we nurture what we need to keep. You could get blind to that, but I have enough reminders. So I think for us it is absolutely required that we have history.

Kalbag: Anne was the person who immediately preceded you and I notice that 11 of your 30 top management people are women. There's always a feeling that women are really good at managing huge change and keeping a cool head when everyone's losing theirs. Do you think that's made a difference at Xerox?

Burns: The personality of the company is made up of the sum of many different personalities. I am 100 per cent sure that the personality of our company and the tilt that we have is affected by the fact that we have had two successive women CEOs. No doubt about it. Our hiring pattern, interestingly enough, probably hasn't changed that much. The reason why we had two successful (female) CEOs is because some guys hired us. So the personality of the company is not a gender based personality, but it is one that enables women. Whenever I travel it's sometimes three women who are travelling; I don't say let's find three women to travel with me. I say, my treasurer has to come, my technology lead has to come, and my head of [marketing] has to come and it turns out that I have more of a shot of that person being a woman than most other people.

Kalbag: In one of your interviews recently you spoke about a tidal wave (of women) coming in, but the problem is numbers still look pretty bad across the world. In India, of course, they are not great at all.

Burns: Here's the tidal wave thing. In fields like engineering, or science, or any kind of technology, IT or medicine, it is almost impossible to meet the needs of the world, which are pretty high. If threw out all the women in the universities and said no we're only going to hire the male portion of those graduating, we're just going to run out of talent. It is inevitable that this very inflexible, very male dominated global work structure cannot stay the way it is unless we're willing to live with problems for a lot longer than we can afford to. So in order for us to actually solve the problems, we're going to have to engage those women who are being trained. As soon as you engage them, which Xerox has been doing for a while, you realise they're actually pretty good, they work really hard, so the tidal wave is just a numbers game, is what I think. There will be a lot of pressure from establishments to stop that from happening. Obviously there are some structural issues that we're going to have to solve…

Puliyenthuruthel: Please elaborate on the "imposter syndrome" that you say women deal with.

Burns: A lot of women I run into actually experience it - and I do as well, even today, sometimes. When I started, when I was studying engineering, when I became an engineer, when I became a manager of engineering, when I became a manager of business... I was unique, all the time, often, not because I was uniquely smart but because of things I had no control over. I had no control of the fact that I was a woman, and no control over the fact that I was black, I was this unique thing.

Puliyenthuruthel: You were young.

Burns: I was young, that was a huge thing as well. I had no control over those facts, right? But there was too much of self reflecting. Men don't worry about this at all. They get up in the morning and go to work, they look like everybody else, everything is pretty standard; they are very comfortable where they are. Women are not necessarily automatically comfortable, they have to get themselves there and that forces them to be very self-reflective. And pause a lot before you act, pause a lot before you think, it's not natural if you're the only person in your organization, the only person that looks like you, to kind of jump in, right? You're a little more cautious. And we women actually do question our abilities more than most, definitely more than men do, by a mile.

Sheryl Sandberg wrote a book Lean In and the point that she's making is that we (women) actually step back a lot and it's not because we're less smart or poorly trained or less articulate. (But) we're always the different voice, so we get into the syndrome of - are we really this good? The things men say about us - is she here because she's a woman, is she here because she's black - we actually ask about ourselves. Definitely more than any man would. I just said that I do it sometimes myself, which is interesting because I'm already the CEO of a company. And it's less in business now than it is in other engagements that I have - I'm actually sought after a lot. I pause upon every single request that's not a business request - and ask whether or not I'm being asked to do this because I look different from everybody else in the room.

Puliyenthuruthel: Interesting.

Burns: The good news is that I do it with every request and I make the decision on whether or not it is going to be valuable to me or my company. So I've turned this into a positive thing. So I actually have more chances to talk about Xerox, to talk about women, to talk about women success factors, to talk about things I think are very important, first and foremost my company, because I am different. So now it's about turning it into an advantage, not a negative.

Puliyenthuruthel: And the tidal wave that you talked about is so true. There are school systems in Australia and England, where they're actually setting up boys-only schools, because the girls are so much smarter.

Burns: It's a wave all over the place. I mean if you look at the United States, there are a lot of questions about - so where are the boys going to be? Because if you look at the wave of education - the education performance differences, between young men and young women, if you look at the actual needs of the future of playing and teams, or being compassionate - I'm not saying soft, but listening with both ears, empathetically -- if you look at these needs, that of being flexible, these needs - women were trained in these things, they are becoming more of an advantage. So we have to actually figure out a way to not leave all the boys behind.

Kalbag: You spoke at Columbia about being prepared to give back. You said you're going to be asking what you left behind. Now that you've got to where you are, what are you doing to give back not just in terms of occupying symbolic posts, you know… I don't want to sound cynical but being on on fund raising committees or whatever, you know...

So one of the things is a symbolic post in a fund raising committee - if you think it's symbolic, you should try doing it, I mean, getting money is really hard. Here's the way that I think about the world - there are lots of opportunities to improve and the flipside is there are lots of problems. There are lots of opportunities to improve in the world and I actually personalize everything to a place that I can buy into it, and therefore get passionate about it. I look at my life and I am the beneficiary of a great family, my mother was amazing... that's good. I can't really change most people's families, their situation. I mean, I can't really fix that.

If you look at the problems we have in the world, there is one thing I can be sure of - that you need engineers and scientists. I'm not even sure if you'll need bankers or lawyers.

Kalbag: You make it sound accidental.

Burns: It is accidental. I can make people aware of two things that happened to me, one of which was totally accidental. My mother thought education was important; it didn't matter what I studied. She made it clear that I had to study something, and she made it clear I had to be good at it. It had to be something that you became passionate about and were good at. The part that is accidental is that I found engineering purely by accident. My mother didn't know what an engineer was. She had no idea. She though science was cool, she thought English was cool, too. She thought finance was cool, she thought anything that I could be taught was cool. The fact that we have people in the world today who have no clue that education is the solution to most of the world's problems - either for them or the generation after them and the fact that of that small subset that associates education with a solution, even a smaller subset knows what an engineer does. Of the vast majority of the 6.5 billion people in the world, very few people understand this. Very few people value this. Why? If I can train an engineer in any country… in the US, in India, wherever, I guarantee you that their lifestyle on an average will be better that just about anybody else's lifestyle. Why is it that that's not known, why is that there are not more people being funneled into these fields? That's what I am focused on - outside of work, in work, around work I spend a lot of my time trying to make sure that is really clear to people that bouncing a ball and shooting it into a hole is a cute thing to do but it is not going to change your life.

Kalbag: Or the lives of people around you.

Burns: Largely, the probability of you making a good living in these areas is like being struck by lightning. I can assure you that you can make a good living as an engineer. And also give back to the world.

So, where do I spend my energy and why is it more than rhetoric for me? It's that I literally try to understand what are schools doing, can I help change things, can I be an inspirational role model… By the way, the people participating the least are minorities and women, right? Can I be a role model? Because I can show them 'Forget about the CEOs and stuff'… that is really good and you can have a lot of fun, make a lot of money. But way before that happened, 10 years ago, I was on this… 15 years ago, way before I was CEO, I was at this point. I wasn't anywhere near [being] the CEO and I had a really good life, very exciting life, every single day. I got to see the world, I got to solve real problems because I was a simple, basic mechanical engineer.

Puliyenthuruthel: Back to Xerox. From a market cap perspective, you are about a sixth of what you were about 14-15 years ago. I don't want to focus much on the stock price but use it as a proxy for the well-being for the company. In the transformation of the company, what are the big milestones going forward?

Burns: One of the most important roles that I have in my time as the CEO is to stabilise the company. Not financial performance, because that is pretty good and it will continue to get better. But to stabilise the company from market clarity standpoint of the value that we have. And if you look at our company today, we have a large history in printing and copying and creating printers and copiers. And the relevance of that value from a company perspective is lower today - this is market relevance - than it was ever before. And, tomorrow it will be lower and the day after even lower… Part of the valuation challenge we have in our company is that we are still depending a large amount either in image or in actuality on a set of technologies that is becoming less relevant every day. In the minds of people, even if it is not actuality (this is happening). We are still going to print a whole bunch of stuff, trust me. We still have a very large printing business, document creation business… But if that were the only thing we had, our market cap would be nearly nothing. Because it is not that much on a go-forward basis. So, one of the biggest shifts we have to make on the valuation of the company, one of the biggest things that will drive to move the valuation of the company is to continue to grow more in services. By expanding our performance around the world, reaching around the world… by doing business in India, by doing business in Brazil from a services perspective (we go forward). And having that contribute more and more to our revenues and profits on a go-forward basis.

The valuation shift won't come until we actually we move even more aggressively from a revenue-mix perspective towards services. Think about it: Xerox Corp is 50,000 people at least who grew up in this business and I speak publicly all the time that that business model is important because it gives a lot of cash, lot of value etc. Externally, people are going to say that it is in secular decline. Things like secular decline do not add up to high valuation. What we have to do is continue to operate the business in places where we were growing. High end printing in colour is still growing, managed print services in our portfolio is growing around the world. Our participation in basic technology business in developing economies is growing. I have to continue [growing] that but I have to actually shift my investments, my performance, my revenue mix, my value from an external perspective more towards services. More towards applying the brand, technology, coverage, and global reach towards services expansion. When that happens, as that happens, you will see our valuation continue to change. That would be augmented even further to the point where it is not just regular valuation, where it is not just a multiple that makes sense on an average, it will start to perform even better. It will outperform the normal market performers when we do that business well. Just making the mix will give us the valuation bump and executing it really well will give us an additional bump.

More than half your revenues already come from services.

Burns: Yes, 55 per cent of our revenues… It's still not quite enough. We said and people who follow us have said that we need about probably two-thirds of our revenues from there. We have to have enough revenue to protect against what people could perceive as a risk in a big secular change in the [printing] business. We don't foresee an additional secular change in printing. People are not going to stop printing. That would be a massive secular change, right? Right now, we expect our technology business to actually grow revenue at negative, let's say, two per cent to five per cent a year. We have comprehended a decline in our planning. We have to manage it to that level; hopefully, (we will) outperform in some quarters over time. Our investments profile on a go-forward basis will not allow… would not indicate that we would outperform that flat, that negative five per cent or two per cent revenue decline. We could probably throw a lot of money at it and try and eke it up a little bit but the returns and the longevity of it would not be a good investment.

Are you better off then splitting the company into two: products and services?

Burns: Well, the company was products and services before, right? Before we bought ACS.

Puliyenthuruthel: But not at the scale we are talking about today.

Burns: The size, the big scale difference came with the growth of ACS. And, so the answer to the question would be, obviously not. Because before we bought ACS, their growth profile was like x. And since we bought it, with our ability to expand, to apply technologies, to provide this brand to intermix the business, we have accelerated their growth rate. So, the answer would be no. Would they (ACS) get that set of benefits quickly enough without us being there, without somebody providing this set of values to them by being there? And, they have proven that they couldn't.

Kalbag: On the innovation side, there are a lot of patents being filed…How are you encouraging entrepreneurship in terms of innovation in your centres in India?

Burns: By having them work with, having them stay very, very close to the market, to our customers; either current or potential customers. The most impactful way to drive innovation is to have people understand the way work is done today. And, if you understand the way work is done today, and are not complacent - our researchers aren't - you literally pour your energies into improving the way work is done today.

Kalbag: But does it happen like that in real life. Development centres can be very ivory tower-ish.

Burns: Yes, they can be. But, on average, our researchers are blue collar guys too. They literally have customers coming into their labs, they go to the customer sites, they have dreaming sessions with customers, they understand what customers do, and I will give you an example. One of the customers of our research centre is our business process outsourcing locations around the world. Because they do work on behalf of clients… processing of transactions all over the world like health-care claims, customer care claims, finance and accounts process, or people's records etc. When we [bought ACS], our researchers from a lab went and spent time with them; literally, sitting with them, walking around what the processing centres. First of all, this is extremely manual, it is error prone. If you look at health-care claims, it is literally stacks and stacks of papers. Each time it moves from person A to person B to person C, some activity is done at each stage, and at the end of the day, a bill gets paid with a statement of benefit claim sent to somebody. The doctor gets a bill and you get an explanation of what that bill is about. All this happens in the process. They (the researchers) looked at this and spent time, and realized very quickly that that process they were using was very manual; it did not use technology to remove the errors or speed the process. Something as simple as a packet of information being separated by a colour sheet. This was actually the way it was done. These researchers, who are fairly blue collar, very, very well-trained, asked what the heck do we have these yellow papers in between for? Why are we doing this? [ACS] said for a very good reason: that's the way we separate packets of information. They (researchers) said we these things called glyphs. You mark a paper in a highly secure, very invisible way. You don't have to ever touch the paper to keep the packages together. You mark every single paper with a glyph. The glyph is free; it's a watermark kind of thing. All these things are being scanned or came out of a scanned image. Why don't you just take all this away and use our glyph technology to manage all this paper through the process?

The whole process changed by saving the yellow sheets. Big deal, right? By the way, it is a lot of money. Also, the errors. Even if you got a random paper out of place, when the glyph technology looked at the fact that all these papers should be about you but found this random sheet that belonged to Joe, it would literally remove it. That's one set of pretty basic stuff. Another thing is that we manage - we do it in California - parking infrastructure, the ticketing etc. A major contributor to traffic in New York is people driving around in circles trying to find a parking place. Thirty per cent of cars on the road should be stopped today but they can't stop because they don't have a place to park or they don't want to pay the money. Or, if they do pay the money, these centralized lots are far from where they are going. But there are spaces available; [the drivers] just can't find them. They would be willing to pay more if they were able to secure one if they could figure out a way to do that [in a spot] that was close to them.

What we have just launched using our document technology infrastructure was an automated matching parking system in a county in California that is probably going to explode around any place we can sell it. If you are driving around San Francisco today or San Bernadino county, and you are looking for parking space, you will get a notification on your phone that there is a parking space two blocks away from you and, by the way, the county will tell you at night it will cost you a dollar; if you get there at 12 noon, it will cost you five dollars. So, all of these things are technology: the sensing, the algorithm to tell you what the busiest time is, whether the parking spot is free or not, the dynamic pricing… that's all stuff that our researchers have worked out.

We had a lot of this before we bought ACS; this is not stuff that we just invented after we bought ACS. But our [application] of it was limited to a machine. We can do it on a machine, make it work better, work faster… What we have just done is unleash to all our research centres including the one we just opened in India in Bangalore… we unleashed a whole new set of problems to them to apply the great skills they have.

How much of this is top-of-mind recall for your clients?

Burns: It is very low.

Puliyenthuruthel: India has about ten new cities coming up. If the head administrator of one of them were to think of a smart city project, he would perhaps think of IBM or Cisco for it. How long before Xerox gets to somewhere in that pecking order?

Burns: I think it would not be so long if we were doing everything for everybody. But we are not into the smart city [business]. Thank god! Because it would take a long time to put together the infrastructure that is needed today. What we are doing is a three-pronged approach. One, we tell stories in print, TV advertising about what we do for our customers. If you look at our last campaign, the one before the most recent one, we did a whole bunch of advertising for our clients, which was kind of risky but it was a good foundation. We spoke about what we do for Virgin Atlantic; we spoke about what we do for P&G… We told their stories. We told the story of Marriott, what are the challenges that Marriott has, what are the challenges that P&G has in managing their back office. They talk to the world what we have done to fix that. Very little of that was a product based story. It was a kind of risky thing. They talked about the services we provide, either finance and accounting or HR or transportation solutions, etc. So, one way was to actually have our clients be our biggest storytellers and parade that around, so that people can get the context. People who have a business similar to P&G would look at it and say, "Ah, I understand that because I do the same thing that P&G does."

The second one that is the big one is this idea that our clients are our proof points. We have people who go out and sell to clients. Our biggest door-opener is a reference from a client. Fortunately we are not trying to sell to the mass market. I am trying to sell to large and mid-cap companies. The best way to do that is serve our clients very, very well so that they talk to other large and mid-cap companies. This happens a lot. It is a really big thing.

The third thing is about me, my leadership team and all our employees. I said earlier one of the greatest things about being a black female CEO is that people want to talk to me. It's not about the CEO part but because of the black female CEO part. And, I never let an opportunity pass to let everybody know what the heck we do for a living. A part of this will be time and no matter what we do, because unlike IBM, unlike Accenture, we are associated, our brand name has been associated with a function. So, we're gonna continually have an additional challenge that other companies don't have. I actually think it is a positive over time. It gives us permission to do things that even we didn't know we could do. But it is going to be a challenge from a top of mind recollection point of view.

Your services business is likely to take off going by the expectations you have for it. Your market cap is about $12 billion, which is loose change for a lot of people. Are you vulnerable to a takeover?

Burns: I think (the chances are) very, very low. I can't predict what other peoples' motivations are with respect to us. I think we are positioning the company is such a way that our shareholders will be better served having us play the strategy out. There is a lot more upside in us implementing our strategy than doing some short-term move. But I can't really tell if there is someone out there who wants to come in.

But I have a slightly provocative question based on your last point. The feeling about Xerox is that you are the only evangelist that is visible to the world. This is true of many companies. The CEO becomes the sole megaphone for the company. Shouldn't that change?

Burns: I think that is a very astute point. It's one that I can fight against but I won't. There is some opportunity that no matter how hard we try, until there are more people… either more female CEOs or more female black CEOs, I will have a louder voice than most. The first request for any speaking will be, "Can I get Ursula?" What we work hard on doing - you'll see that more in the US and Europe - is we push very, very hard the two line of business [heads]. Our CFO is out all the time; she speaks to investors and analysts and market people, and is fairly well known. But on the commercial or business side, we try to push the business heads or country heads to show they are face and the voice of Xerox. I need you guys to help on this; you people who are writing. You could just have had Lynn Blodgett (President of Xerox Services) here. When I send him, talk to him. Because many times I will be asked for me to come but I can't get there. And, when I say, "Talk to Lynn", we are told "We really like to talk to Ursula".

You have worked with President Obama on his business advisory councils and so on. Is there a general feeling that India is becoming a more difficult place to do business in?

Burns: We spend very little time speaking about India's difficulty or Brazil's difficulty. We think about difficulty across the board in countries in the following areas, and generally from our perspective: we need a tax structure that is fair and balanced and growth oriented. We need access to talent on a global basis; we need immigration laws that are reasonable and allow talent access and talent sharing to happen very freely; we need rule of law around intellectual property that is predictable, consistent and fair around the world; and infrastructure inside and outside the United States that enables growth. We talk about the fundamental building blocks of good business around the world. So, the US government dealing with the Indian government… you guys figure out a way to make that happen. And, if you do it well, our business will grow all around the world. If you do it poorly, our business will continue to grow but it will grow differentially in other places.

Puliyenthuruthel: What are your disappointments with President Obama?

Burns: Actually, I don't have a lot. The president of the United States leads a country that I am not the only customer of the output for. And I don't believe he should make decisions that I am the only customer of the output for. So, while I could complain about - and probably would to him, privately - things he could do better for Xerox or do better for women, he has a lot of people telling what he can do better for the constituents. His job is to balance them across the board because he represents them, and I think he's doing a fair job of that. There are things I don't like about what I do. I am very careful about throwing stones here, because I have 140,000 people at Xerox and if you talk to anyone of them, they would view me like I view the President. You should be able to do this for me in India, for me in Brazil, this for the technologists, this for the women, this for the black employees… What we try to do as leaders who have all these guys underneath is to serve them, on average, well. I think our president is doing a very good job doing that.

Published on: Sep 10, 2013, 12:00 AM IST
Posted by: AtMigration, Sep 10, 2013, 12:00 AM IST