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Mulcahy, Anne M. 1952–

Anne M. Mulcahy
1952

Chairman and chief executive officer, Xerox Corporation

Nationality: American.

Born: October 21, 1952, in Rockville Centre, New York.

Education: Marymount College, BA, 1974.

Family: Married Joe Mulcahy (sales manager); children: two.

Career: Xerox, 19761991, field sales representative; 19921995, vice president, human resources; 19961997, vice president and staff officer, customer operations worldwide; 1998, senior vice president and chief staff officer; 19992000, president, general markets operations; 20002001, president and chief operating officer; 20012002, president and chief executive officer; 2002, chairman and chief executive officer.

Address: Xerox Corporation, 800 Long Ridge Road, Box 1600, Stamford, Connecticut 06904; http://www.xerox.com.

Anne M. Mulcahy became the first woman CEO in Xerox's history in August 2001 and its first female chairman in January 2002 thanks largely to her skill in turning around the deeply troubled copying and printing giant. She ordered a restructuring that cut annual expenses by $1.7 billion, slashed 25,000 jobs, and sold $2.3 billion worth of noncore assets to reduce Xerox's long-term debt. Mulcahy also paid a $10 million fine and restated five years of Xerox's revenues to quiet an embarrassing accounting scandal; the Securities and Exchange Commission had accused the company of bending its numbers to meet Wall Street's expectations. Colleagues praised her for achieving a minor miracle through honesty, communication, and a willingness to tackle tough tasks.

AN UNUSUAL BACKGROUND FOR A CEO

The only daughter in a family with four boys, Mulcahy was encouraged by her parents to compete equally with her brothers. This upbringing taught her not only to handle criticism but to listen to it as wellan ability that has helped her to make difficult decisions. After completing her primary education at a Catholic school, she earned a degree in English and journalism at Marymount College. She then spent 16 years working as a sales representative for Xerox and thought for years about quitting to spend more time with her sons. In May 2000 the Xerox board picked Mulcahy to be president and CEO-in-waiting. "I never expected to be CEO of Xerox. I was never groomed to be CEO of Xerox. It was a total surprise to everyone, including myself," she later said (Fortune, June 9, 2003).

But Mulcahy had qualities that Xerox badly needed. She was straightforward, hardworking, and disciplined, and she was fiercely loyal to Xeroxthe company, the brand, and the people. Her coworkers described her as both compassionate and tough. "Part of her DNA is to tell you the good, the bad, and the ugly," said one colleague (Fortune, June 9, 2003). Mulcahy's willingness to work side by side with subordinates gave her unusual credibility and permitted her to galvanize dispirited Xerox workers.

LEADING BY LISTENING

In the early days of her reign as president, Mulcahy logged 100,000 miles in visits to far-flung Xerox locations. She held town-style meetings to address matters such as Xerox's possible bankruptcy and closure. The meetings were quite contentious, but Mulcahy answered as honestly as possible. She managed to boost morale by giving workers a reason to be hopeful and committed to the company. As she later elaborated, "If you schmooze and spin your communications, it comes back to bite you in your ability to establish credibility with people" (Fortune, June 9, 2003). Mulcahy saw communication as the most important tool for a leader. "I believe strongly that my success as a leader is driven by my commitment to understanding and meeting customer's requirements as well as developing and nurturing a motivated and proud workforce" (Kharif, Business Week Online ).

Xerox had stopped listening to its customers, and Mulcahy's background in sales undoubtedly gave her a perspective that saved the life of the technology giant. The company had lost focus on the market. It neglected to change its cost model, maintaining its strategy despite obvious signs from customers that it no longer worked. Mulcahy, known for being an extremely focused and decisive woman, placed the company's emphasis back on sales and refused to tolerate subordinates who performed poorly.

While Xerox bounced back, by 2004 it had not experienced the kind of growth it knew during its heyday. Mulcahy sought to reinvigorate the company by dedicating $1 billion annually to research and development. She planned to expand into consulting services by helping companies better manage their document flows and by setting up computer networks. Analysts expressed doubts that Xerox could change its image and learn new areas, but the firm's stock continued to rise under Mulcahy's leadership.

See also entry on Xerox Corporation in International Directory of Company Histories.

sources for further information

Kharif, Olga, "Anne Mulcahy Has Xerox by the Horns," BusinessWeek online, http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/may2003/tc20030529_1642_tc111.htm.

Morris, Betsy, "The Accidental CEO," Fortune, June 9, 2003, pp. 4247.

Mulcahy, Anne, "Lead Your Employees Through Hell and Back," Business 2.0, December 2002, p. 91.

Pryme, Kristy, "Mulcahy's Rise to Power," Computer Dealer News, September 12, 2003, p. 46.

Caryn E. Neumann

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