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How I Did It: Lessons from the Front Lines of Business by Daniel McGinn, Harvard Business Review

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Xerox’s Former CEO on Why Succession Shouldn’t Be a Horse Race

by Anne Mulcahy

Anne Mulcahy was the CEO of Xerox from 2001 to 2009.

The Idea

Xerox named Ursula Burns its CEO in 2009, marking the end of a nearly drama-free succession process. That was no accident: The outgoing CEO had spent nearly a decade orchestrating a smooth transition.

In early 2007 Ursula Burns and I had dinner at a French restaurant on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. It was quiet and expensive—which was uncharacteristic for us. But we needed a place where we could talk. At the time, Ursula was a senior vice president at Xerox and the leading candidate to succeed me as CEO. We were about to announce that she was being promoted to president and would join the board of ...

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