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There’s no denying it: Charles Phillips appreciates a good challenge. For the past nine years the technology expert has been dubbed America’s No.1 software analyst by Institutional Investor and is listed on BE’s “Top 50 African Americans on Wall Street” (see October 2002 issue). And now, he’s leaped into technology with both feet. The new executive vice president of Oracle Corp., Phillips, 44, is fully immersed in the business that enthralled him more than 30 years ago.
“There were no hills left to climb as an analyst, and I didn’t want to retire having only written about businesses instead of running one,” he says. “Lining up on the battlefield directly, instead of reporting from the sidelines, was an experience I thought would be valuable and exciting. I concluded that seeing the industry as a customer, then an analyst, and now at a company would give me a unique perspective on an industry I’m still fascinated by.”
Phillips says his main focus will be to stay ahead of the competition. “The growth of the industry isn’t what it was, certainly a little bit more competitive and focused on value,” he says. “For a while there, technology was viewed as trendy, fashionable and fun to play with, and everybody overspent on it. Now people only buy what they need and the requirement to illustrate the return on an investment in value … certainly makes us all accountable for what we’re selling … and that’s a good thing,” he adds.
Phillips’ extensive experience in software, including his former job as a Morgan Stanley software analyst, was something Oracle’s CEO, Larry Ellison, definitely took notice of: “Chuck’s market perspective and strong relationship with CEOs, CFOs, and CIOs across industries will be of enormous benefit to Oracle and our customers,” the CEO said in a press statement. “We are constantly looking to increase our customer focus and enhance customer interaction throughout our business, and Chuck is uniquely qualified to drive improvements in these areas.”
Focus is definitely something Phillips brings to the enterprise software corporation. He started building PCs for his friends when he was in high school. But his true journey in technology began in 1981 when he accepted a commission in the U.S. Marine Corps working in the data processing/logistics field. He was later promoted to the rank of captain. And now he’s charting a new course at the bellwether tech giant.
Despite his more than 23 years in the software industry, Phillips attributes much of his professional success to one thing: following his heart.
“Doing something you have a passion for is more important than anything else,” Phillips offers. “It raises the odds for success. I wouldn’t do anything that I didn’t really, really love.”