You all know the story: Lowly intern at massively wealthy company moves up the ladder to become CEO of said company. Or perhaps you don't know the story because it never really happens, minus a few dream sequences in movies. But Ursula Burns -- CEO of a little outfit called Xerox -- did just that, and became the first African-American CEO of a Fortune 500 company to boot.
Burns joined Xerox fresh out of Columbia University, where she received her master's degree in mechanical engineering. She soon was working closely with one of the division presidents and was given a title of president in 2007. In 2009, she was named CEO – nearly 30 years after the world's most successful summer internship [source: Iqbal].