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Xerox’s new CEO’s path was over the mudflats and overpasses of Long Island

As he takes over the top job at Xerox, Steve Bandrowczak is confident he can look most of his employees in the eye with an understanding of the instant challenges of their jobs, from cafeteria staff to engineers preparing jobs. new ways of doing things in the digital domain.

That’s because Bandrowczak himself has held similar jobs — and others most at Xerox have never tried — from slamming the Long Island apartments where he grew up for pocket money, to his first link driving job for the Long Island Railroad as it built elevated viaducts to carry its trains.

Xerox made Bandrowczak its permanent CEO on Wednesday, after promoting him to the role on an interim basis in June following the death of his predecessor John Visentin, who steered the company through a tumultuous time.

In a prepared statement, the chairman of Xerox’s board of directors said Bandrowczak had the right background as chief operating officer under Visentin, as well as the “passion and empathy” the company was looking for for the job. The highest.

“Steve has a proven track record of delivering results by leveraging digital platforms to grow market share and increase profitability,” Xerox President James Nelson said in a corporate press release. “Steve is the right leader to move Xerox forward.”

Bandrowczak said in an interview on Wednesday that Visentin was a close friend and had a hard time fitting in at first. Bandrowczak lives in Greenwich, as does Visentin.

“When John passed away, it was really hard for me to think about taking that seat,” Bandrowczak said. “It was my wife who…said, ‘It’s not about you. That’s pretty much all the blessings you had getting into this role; all the people, all the things you learned – that you now have to give back.

Bandrowczak grew up on Long Island, working 40 hours a week while in high school at a local grocery store and looking for extra money (he remembers selling them for a dollar a dozen). After graduating, he married his high school girlfriend who grew up around the corner and worked for the Long Island Railroad raising its tracks on overhead viaducts, eliminating level crossings that blocked traffic and posed a risk of accident.

“It made me fearless,” Bandrowczak said. “Because you are able to survive and because you are able to do such things early in your life, you know that whatever is thrown at you will be fine.”

A regular on his high school honor roll, Bandrowczak did not consider college after graduating, thinking he could not afford the tuition. It was Bandrowczak’s boss who suggested he sign up – and having his stepfather’s dual status, accompanied the suggestion with a not-so-subtle kick in the pants kicking Bandrowczak out of his regular job. .

Bandrowczak enrolled at the Grumman Data Systems Institute and later at Nassau County Community College, moonlighting to earn an income to make ends meet. He then graduated from CW Post, now part of Long Island University, studying computer science.

His first job after college was with Sperry, an early computer innovator that would eventually move into Unisys. He would excel and eventually become chief information officer at DHL.

His career would intersect with that of Visentin when IBM spun off its personal computer business as Lenovo. Visentin then joined HP and hired Bandrowczak as CIO for the unit he led.

“When someone talks to me about making sales calls, or someone talks to me about IT, or someone talks to me about running a factory or whatever – because in my career I’ve done those things , I can see it from a different perspective,” Bandrowczak said. “You get a different perspective from those humble roots.”

Visentin hired Bandrowczak as a lieutenant in June 2018, a month after he was installed in the top job by activist investors Carl Icahn and Darwin Deason. The billionaires had successfully waged a power of attorney and legal battle to stop Xerox’s board of directors at the time from selling the company to Fujifilm Holdings for $6 billion.

At Xerox, Visentin will then attempt a contested merger with HP, which the COVID-19 pandemic will bring to an abrupt end.

Shortly after securing the top job, Visentin and Bandrowczak hatched a restructuring plan called “Project Own It” to simplify Xerox, which included outsourcing elements of its office operations, layoffs and decisions not to replace people who left on their own initiative. Xerox entered this year with just over 23,000 employees, down about 12,000 from the end of 2017.

Bandrowczak said he and Visentin shared a vision of Xerox as “an iconic brand that needed to be saved” in his own words. Best known for its desktop copiers and printers, Xerox also created a number of innovations that enabled the information age, including the graphical user interface and desktop mouse that would help popularize Apple and Microsoft Windows ; and Ethernet to connect the computers.

“When John called me, it was more than a job – it was a passion to make this company a great American icon [and] yet another tech giant,” Bandrowczak said. “What we’ve done over the past four years is take all of the great assets – the people, the intellectual property, the things that we do – and now bring them to the next generation of Xerox to make it a big tech company.”

As an example of how Xerox is branching out from its roots in print and document management systems, Bandrowczak cited CareAR, a unit that works with ServiceNow to develop augmented and virtual reality systems for field technicians and other service workers.

Coincidentally, Bandrowczak happened to bus tables at the same Long Island restaurant as ServiceNow CEO Bill McDermott, who grew up in a town further away. McDermott himself would spend 17 years at Xerox, then today become president of Stamford-based Gartner before becoming CEO of SAP and then ServiceNow.

For Bandrowczak, this is his first go-around at CEO headquarters – but he inherits Xerox’s enviable resources, including its Xerox Palo Alto Research Center and sprawling development campus outside of Rochester, NY.

“If you think about it, paper is not ‘paper’ but data and information,” Bandrowczak said. “How do we take cutting-edge technologies — like artificial intelligence, like augmented reality, like virtual reality — and create new solutions in and around that data?”

Includes earlier reports by Luther Turmelle.

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