Ursula Burns was appointed to Uber’s Board of Directors, according to a statement from Ex-CEO Travis Kalanick.
The former Xerox Corps. CEO will join John Thain, former CEO of CIT Group, Merril Lynch, and the New York Stock Exchange, on the Board.
“Ursula and John are two highly accomplished corporate leaders with extensive board experience,” said a spokesperson for Kalanick in a statement to Tech Crunch. “Their backgrounds include successfully leading large public companies as chief executives and chairs, navigating dynamic technology-powered and regulated industries, and guiding tens of thousands of employees around the world.”
Uber officials expressed in a statement that the appointments “came as a complete surprise to Uber and its Board,” and took place in the middle of a long-lasting power battle between the transportation company and its co-founder.
For Burns, however, the appointment adds to an already impressive resume.
Born and raised in the New York City projects, she first crossed paths with Xerox as an engineering intern in 1980. After she received her master of science in Mechanical Engineering and spent several years climbing the corporate ladder within the company, her career came full circle when she became CEO. That position would make her the first African American woman to lead a Fortune 500 company in that capacity. She would go on to serve as CEO until December of 2016.
In an interview with TIME Magazine as part of TIME Firsts, “a multimedia project featuring 46 groundbreaking women,” Burns reflected on her journey as a minority– as both Black and a woman– in business and STEM.
“I say this to women all the time…I guarantee you-you will be the minority in the room,” Burns said. “And instead of that being a burden, it should be an opportunity for you, to distinguish yourself…All of us now are pioneers. Every one of us.”