Monday, March 7, 2011

SDM Students Have Lunch with Xerox CEO Ursula Burns

By Deniz Eralp, SDM '11

Photo by Kathy Tarantola Photography
Last week, as part of the MIT Sloan Dean’s Innovative Leaders Series, the MIT community welcomed Ursula Burns, Chairman and CEO of Xerox Corporation.

This very special occasion began with Ms. Burns’ presentation in Wong Auditorium, which was open to the entire Institute, followed by a special by-invitation-only roundtable luncheon with MIT students. Three members from our SDM cohort, Andrea Ippolito, Saujanya Shrivastava and myself were present at the luncheon.

Ms. Burns, the epitome of a globally influential leader with an engineering background, gave a very simple, yet strong message: “You do not have to leave engineering to become a leader.” The representatives of SDM were the ones in the room with the biggest smiles on their faces when she talked about how her engineering background helped her to overcome the diverse challenges of a highly complex business environment.
SDM students Ziya Deniz Eralp (2nd from left), Saujanya
Shrivastava (5th from left), and Andrea Ippolito (7th from left)
recently had lunch with Xerox CEO Ursula Burns.
Photo by Sung You (MIT Sloan)
As representatives of our SDM community for this special event, we believe that we have the responsibility of relaying her message to every member in our cohort, so we want to say “Dear SDMers. Keep on believing in your future as leaders who can balance engineering and management. With the challenges of the business environment getting more complex and more multi-faceted, there will be many more stories that resonate with Ursula Burns’ story. Until that day, when you will be in a position to hold the steering wheel, do not forget to polish your systems thinking hat and to sharpen your engineering and management skills every day. And keep your SDM notes handy.”

I hope that Ms. Burns’s hugely successful and diverse career will be inspirational for all SDM students and alums!

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