When Burns joined Xerox in 1980 as a mechanical engineering summer intern, the company was the leader in the global photocopying market. As she later assumed roles in product development and planning, the company was securing its leadership position in digital document technologies. From 1992 through 2000, Burns, at a pivotal point in the company's history, led several business teams including the company's color business and office network printing business.
In 2000, Burns was named senior vice president, Corporate Strategic Services, heading up manufacturing and supply chain operations. Alongsidethen-CEO Anne Mulcahy, Burns worked to restructure Xerox through its turnaround to emerge as a leader in color technology and document services. A key factor in the company's turnaround was its research and development of new products and technologies, and at the time Burns was responsible for leading Xerox's global research as well as product development, marketing and delivery. In April 2007, Burns was named president of Xerox, expanding her leadership to also include the company's IT organization, corporate strategy, human resources, corporate marketing and global accounts. At that time, she was also elected a member of the company's Board of Directors.
Burns was named chief executive officer in July 2009 and shortly after, made the largest acquisition in Xerox history, the $6.4 billion purchase of Affiliated Computer Services, catapulting the company's presence in the $500 billion business services market and extending the company's reach into diverse areas of business process and IT outsourcing.
On May 20, 2010, Burns became chairman of the company, leading the 140,000 people of Xerox who serve clients in more than 160 countries. Building on Xerox's legacy of innovation, they're enabling workplaces – from small businesses to large global enterprises -- to simplify the way work gets done so they can focus more on what matters most: their real business.
Burns earned a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from Polytechnic Institute of NYU and a master of science degree in mechanical engineering from Columbia University.
In addition to the Xerox board, she is a board director of the American Express Corporation and Exxon Mobil Corporation. Burns also provides leadership counsel to community, educational and non-profit organizations including FIRST - (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), National Academy Foundation, MIT, and the U.S. Olympic Committee, among others. She is a founding board director of Change the Equation, which focuses on improving the U.S.'s education system in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). In March 2010, U.S. President Barack Obama appointed Burns vice chair of the President's Export Council.