Ursula Burns is the primary black lady to helm a Fortune 500 firm, the previous CEO of Xerox, and now the chairwoman of the highly effective strategic advisory agency Teneo.
She’s additionally an previous crony of Declan Kelly, who simply resigned from the helm of Teneo final week after information spilled out that he allegedly acquired drunk at a VIP charity occasion and acted inappropriately with as many as six totally different ladies.
Burns and Kelly’s ties stretch again to the early days of Teneo, when she employed the agency whereas on the helm of Xerox. When she left Xerox in 2017, Teneo handed her a profitable consulting gig (consistent with Teneo’s playbook with different big-named CEOs together with IBM’s Ginni Rometty and Dow Chemical’s Andrew Liveris.)
In April, Burns and Kelly even based a buyout agency with two different companions known as Integrum. In line with one supply, Kelly stepped away from Integrum when he stepped down at Teneo final week. A spokesman for Integrum declined to remark, citing that the agency is in energetic fundraising.
On one hand, Tuesday’s appointment of Burns as chairwoman of Teneo appears like a coup for the embattled agency, business insiders stated.
“Teneo was hemorrhaging shoppers so that they wanted to do one thing daring,” stated one supply, who known as Burns’ appointment “compelling” because it sends the message that the corporate is embracing a brand new route with a feminine govt of coloration.
However in the identical breath, the supply added that the 62-year-old CEO is a “longtime pal” of Kelly, and that the information couldn’t assist however appear like it had Kelly’s fingerprints throughout it. Insiders are speculating, admittedly with no proof to go on, whether or not a part of Burns’ job will probably be to assist Kelly salvage his profession.
“Declan acquired her the job. She’s a pal of his,” one other business opined. ”Declan remains to be a Teneo shareholder. She’s going to do proper by him.”
Precisely what that might imply remains to be unsure. As an example, it’s unclear if Kelly is presently negotiating his exit package deal or if Burns, as chairwoman, would have a say in his payout. A supply near the agency insisted that there are not any plans for Kelly to advise Burns.
“Being good to him is tremendous dicey for her,” warned a supply. “She’s acquired a fairly stellar model.”
A much bigger difficulty is whether or not Burns will be capable of salvage Teneo, which has already misplaced Common Motors as a shopper.
“Declan may promote something to anyone. He may promote ice to the Eskimos. He was simply one of many nice PR salespeople within the business,” the supply stated. “Ursula is a very nice exec however does she know PR?”
Teneo declined to remark. Personal fairness agency CVC, which owns a majority stake within the consultancy, didn’t return requests for remark.
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