Xerox's inventor-in-chief

An innovation revival has lifted profits to $1.2 billion. Fortune's Geoff Colvin asks CTO Sophie Vandebroek: Can the company keep it up?

There has been much ado about Hillary's appearance on Fortune Magazine's cover in July, but what caught my eye was this interview with Xerox's chief innovator.

The company's smart document technology holds much promise for the paper-glutted medical field.

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One key to the turnaround: Xerox has become an innovation power again, producing new technologies that can read, understand, route, and protect documents, among other things. Leading that effort is Vandebroek, 45, the company's chief technology officer since late 2005. Her task is to keep Xerox at the leading edge of infotech progress in ways that make shareholders richer.

Born and raised in Belgium, Vandebroek has a doctorate in electrical engineering from Cornell; she first joined Xerox in 1991. Before an invited audience in New York City, she talked with Fortune's Geoff Colvin about the difference between invention and innovation; why Xerox employs anthropologists; how to make girls passionate about engineering; and much else. Edited excerpts: