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Who is Anne Mulcahy?

Former Xerox CEO Anne Mulcahy's name is in the news today as a possible successor to Larry Summers to lead the National Economic Council. The White House reportedly wants to pick a woman and someone with corporate experience.

Mulcahy is a widely respected star in corporate America known for engineering a remarkable turnaround at Xerox, which was near bankruptcy when she took over in 2001. Fortune dubbed her "the accidental CEO" because she was never groomed for the position. She was the long shot after her predecessor lasted only 13 months while the company was headed straight into a ditch. In 2000, the stock fell from $63.69 a share to $4.43.

She worked side by side with Ursula Burns -- now one of the White House's go-to executives for policy advice -- to bring the company back from the dead. Within two years, every business division was profitable. When Mulcahy handed the CEO reins to Burns in 2007, it was the first time a woman chief executive of a Fortune 500 company was succeeded by another woman.

Mulcahy, who's known for being brutally honest, also knows her way around corporate boardrooms. She sits on the boards of Target, Johnson & Johnson and The Washington Post Co.

The only issue for the administration is that Mulcahy doesn't have much Washington experience, aside from her perch on the President's Economic Advisory Board. But this is someone used to jumping into tough straits and showing off an incredible learning curve.

From the Fortune article, which highlights Mulcahy's typical honesty:

"Nothing spooked me as much as waking up in the middle of the night and thinking about 96,000 people and retirees and what would happen if this thing went south," she says. "Entire families work for Xerox" -- including her own: her husband, who retired in 1998 after a 35-year career in sales; and her brother Tom Dolan, a senior vice president who joined Xerox six years before she did. When Mulcahy got her big offer, duty and loyalty compelled her to take it, despite zero preparation. She now believes her lack of training was a good thing. She had no preconceived notions, no time to develop bad habits. "There was no time for development classes," she says. "There really was no shade from day one."

By Jia Lynn Yang  | September 22, 2010; 12:13 PM ET
 
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