President and CEO
CLASS OF 1967
Barrett Burns has been a leader and an entrepreneur all his life, learning how to manage risks while being innovative. During college, he was chairman of the senior prom and also started his own business selling motorcycles. “W&J trusted the students and gave us opportunities to have responsibility,” he says. “But if you messed up something like the prom, everybody hated you; so there was a lot of pressure.” As prom chairman, he took a risk and hired an unknown band for an afternoon concert, a move that was not widely approved of on campus. However, he was vindicated a couple of weeks before the prom when that unknown duo, Simon and Garfunkel, released their chart-topping single “Sounds of Silence.”
In 2006, Burns became the first president and CEO of VantageScore Solutions, an innovative company that provides a highly predictive and consistent scoring approach to determine consumer creditworthiness. Burns helped to found this company, launched by three national credit reporting companies. “It is exciting to harness the horsepower of those three companies and watch them work,” he says. Burns was a natural choice for this position since he had plenty of previous senior management experience. During his 27 years at Citibank, he rose through the ranks so quickly that he had a new job every 18 months, helping the company to expand its global consumer banking businesses. He moved on to become senior vice president of Bank One’s finance company, the fifth largest in the United States at the time. He was also chief operating officer of its largest division. His next role was executive vice president of global risk management for the Ford Motor Credit Company before moving to U.S. Trust Company to manage its national private bank as an executive vice president. It was his time at Washington & Jefferson College that prepared him for the constant changes in his career, he says.
Burns enjoyed the fraternity life while he was at W&J and he continues to stay in touch with his fraternity brothers. He says that the fraternities were fun, but also taught their members to stand up for what they believed. Burns is proud that W&J still produces leaders and gives graduates the opportunity to go many different directions. “While you are there, W&J puts you into situations that you have never been in before,” Burns says, “but they guide you through so that you learn to succeed.”