Charles Phillips CEO of Infor says he is someone who likes things that have complicated rules, particularly engineering. What excites him is his ability to construct a career and business around things that most people see as incredibly complex. He was Oracle’s Larry Ellison’s Number 2 guy, as President of the company. Now, however, he is the Number 1 guy at Infor, taking on position as CEO. Infor is a company that creates enterprise applications and is now in direct competition with both Oracle and SAP. Infor now has some 73,000 individual customers, representing some 200 different companies. Some high profile clients include the Cleveland Clinic, Boeing, and Ferrari. In gathering these types of clients, Infor has transformed itself into one of the three main competitors in the tech industry, while at the same time setting itself apart as a company that takes a completely different approach.
One of the first things Phillips did was move the headquarters of the company from Georgia to Manhattan. Manhattan is also where his interested in all things technical started. Most importantly, it is from here that he aims to increase the representation of African Americans in the tech world.
Charles Phillips’ Interest in Tech
Phillips himself was exposed to technological things like computers from being very young, and it seems that he instantly found what he was good at. When in high school, however, his interests grew even more. This was during the time that personal computers started to become available to the general public. PCs, in those times, did not come as a ready made, packaged product, however. Rather, you had to purchase all the individual parts and components and effectively build a PC yourself. Phillips was taken under the wing of a local gentleman who had started a business in PC parts. Phillips would regularly attend the man’s store, showing a clear and distinct interest in parts and computers.
There was not a real PC industry at that point. Rather, what could only be described as ‘hobbyists’ were starting a community. Phillips himself joined a number of different clubs, where he would talk with others about what he made and how to build the best types of PCs. It was in these clubs that he truly fell in love with all things tech, and what eventually pushed him towards completing a major in computer science. Since then, he has always worked with computers in some way or another.
Phillips is passionate about two things: technology, and African American engagement in technology. Over time, his love for both things has only grown stronger. As technological availability evolved, so did his passion, and his commitment to ensuring disadvantaged African American communities had equal opportunities to enter the STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) fields of work. Together with his wife, Karen Phillips, he has started a philanthropic organization to achieve just that, supporting young people in completing education and becoming the best that they can be.