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Charles E. Phillips Jr. (1959–)

Charles Phillips Jr. is the CEO of Infor, a company that specializes in industry-specific software. His long career on Wall Street and in Silicon Valley include high-level positions in financial services corporation Morgan Stanley and the computer technology corporation Oracle. He was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2012.

Charles Phillips was born in 1959 in Little Rock (Pulaski County). His father was stationed at the nearby Little Rock Air Force Base, and the family moved frequently during his youth, including stints in Germany and Spain. Aiming to follow in his father’s footsteps, Phillips enrolled in the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Although he graduated with a degree in computer science in 1981, worsening eyesight during his senior year kept him from becoming a pilot. Phillips instead enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps, building computer systems at Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina. He rose to the rank of captain and earned his MBA from Hampton University in 1986.

Phillips left the marines at the urging of his wife, Karen, whom he had married as an undergraduate; the couple had one son. The two relocated to New York, where he began working for various Wall Street companies that were struggling to make the transition to the Internet era. He also studied at New York Law School, receiving his Juris Doctorate in 1993. The following year, he was hired as an analyst for Morgan Stanley. He eventually rose to the position of managing director in the technology group.

In 2003, Phillips was recruited by Larry Ellison to join Oracle, which Ellison had co-founded. Within six months, Phillips was named president of the California-based firm. Under Phillips, Oracle undertook several major acquisitions, including BEA (for $8.5 billion) and Siebel Systems (for $5.8 billion). His business acumen led to his appointment to President Barack Obama’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board, as well as to the boards of New York Law School, the American Museum of Natural History, Jazz at Lincoln Center, and Viacom. Phillips was also known for his publicly accessible toll-free telephone number, 1-800-MR-CHUCK.

In 2010, however, Phillips was involved in two significant scandals. First, in January, news of an eight-year affair was made public after his former mistress, YaVaughnie Wilkins, paid for billboards in New York City, San Francisco, and Atlanta featuring a picture of her and Phillips. Phillips acknowledged the affair and expressed a determination to learn from his mistakes. Second, in July, at a technology conference in Aspen, Colorado, Phillips claimed that Oracle would engage in $70 billion worth of acquisitions over the next five years. The following day, the company issued a retraction, and some of Phillips’s responsibilities were given to other executives. Rumors swirled regarding his eventual removal, and that fall, Phillips announced that he was leaving Oracle to join Infor.

One of the first things Phillips did as chief executive officer at Infor was relocate the company’s headquarters from Alpharetta, Georgia, to New York City. Michal Lev-Ram wrote in Fortune magazine in 2013 that Infor, under Phillips’s leadership, was “trying to carve out a niche for itself by going after smaller companies and divisions within large corporations, unlike rivals Oracle and SAP, which focus on software that powers huge industries from retail to telecommunications.” By 2016, Infor had tripled in size under the leadership of Phillips, acquiring seventy other companies.

Phillips and his wife have engaged in numerous philanthropic ventures, forming Karen and Charles Phillips Charitable Organizations (PCO) in 2010 as an umbrella for their various activities. PCO provides financial aid for single parents, students interested in engineering, and wounded veterans.

For additional information:
“Charles Phillips: Chief Executive Officer.” Infor. http://www.infor.com/company/leadership/ (accessed December 21, 2016).

Lev-Ram, Michal. “The Redemption of Charles Phillips.” Fortune, September 2, 2013. Online at http://fortune.com/2013/08/15/the-redemption-of-charles-phillips/ (accessed December 21, 2016).

Phillips Charitable Organizations. http://www.phillipscharitable.org/ (accessed December 21, 2016).

Weier, Mary Hayes. “Oracle’s Secret Weapon: Charles Phillips.” InformationWeek, July 27, 2007. http://www.informationweek.com/oracles-secret-weapon-charles-phillips/d/d-id/1057525 (accessed December 21, 2016).

Guy Lancaster
Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture

Last Updated 12/28/2016

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