Burns earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Polytechnic Institute of New York University in 1980 and a Master of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Columbia University in 1981. She initially worked for the Xerox Corporation as a summer intern and joined the company as a permanent employee after receiving her master’s degree.
She steadily rose through the ranks eventually becoming Vice President for Global Manufacturing in 1999. In July, 2009, Burns was named Chief Executive Officer of the company. Burns serves on numerous corporate, professional and community boards, including American Express and Boston Scientific.