Friday, May 22, 2009

Successful Succession at Xerox

Xerox CEO Anne Mulcahy is stepping down in July, but will remain on as Chairman. Her hand-picked successor, Ursula Burns, Xerox's current president, will lead the company. Incidentally, she will become the first black woman to lead a Fortune 500 company.

Mulcahy was an excellent CEO by almost any standard. She took over the company when it was on the verge of bankruptcy and mired in an accounting scandal. She downsized, reducing the workforce by over 20,000 people. She led the firm in a new direction, making it more competitive in a world where copiers are becoming obsolete. The market capitalization of Xerox today is not far above what it was when she took the company over in 2001, however that can mostly be attributed to the market downturn. It is not far-fetched to suggets Xerox might not even have much of a market cap today if it were not for Mulcahy.

Mulcahy has been grooming Burns for this job, and the succession process looks to be almost seemless. It will be interesting to see how Burns leads the firm through its latest trials and tribulations. Here is an article on Mulcahy and Burns, and here is one on the "model" succession process.

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