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From Startup to Multimillion Dollar Business

One of the biggest decisions Charles Phillips ever made was to move the headquarters of the Infor from Alpharetta, GA to New York City. This happened in 2010. According to him, this revitalized the image the company held of itself. Today, the Manhattan offices are nothing short of swank. Expect two stories of LCD screens, metallic mesh curtains, bright red couches, and beautiful artwork. And what few don’t know is that everything was handpicked by Charles Phillip’s wife and himself. There are no doors in the office either, with the entire team sitting together on a massive dark wood rectangular desk.

Phillips took his time getting comfortable, but he seems to have found his home as Infor’s CEO. He chose his team of executives with care, surrounding himself with people who he finds interesting and likeable. They include co-presidents Stephan Scholl and Duncan Angove, and COO Pam Murphy. These are all people he worked with during his time at Oracle, and they all started to work for Infor on December 10, 2010. You can still see the influence Oracle has had on Phillips, however. He was CEO for just four months when he acquired Lawson Software at a $2 billion price tag, something that surprised their investors. After all, most new companies do not make large acquisitions that quickly. However, that was his style at Oracle, inspired by the ‘maniacal’ focus Ellison had, and it is a style he has carried with him.

Today, Infor is trying and succeeding in creating a unique niche. Unlike SAP and Oracle, Infor’s main rivals, they focus solely on large corporate divisions and small companies. SAP and Oracle, by contrast, focus on the software industry, and particularly that which targets very large industries, from telecom to retail. An example is found in Infor trying to create a brand new product for a single company that only produces one unique kind of candy, whereas the other two create massive bundles of software designed for the entire food production industry. Phillips wants to have a focus on design, ensuring all their products have an element of coherence.

Phillips hasn’t replicated everything, however. This is seen particularly strongly in the corporate culture and the leadership style employed at Infor. What Phillips has looked for is to create a culture in which everybody is a part of the club and the machine, and understands the vital role that they play in the overall organization. He did not want to use fear as a form of motivation. As a result, Phillips will never say anything bad about his employees in public. Additionally, he sends personal emails to any worker who celebrates an anniversary, or achieves a certain milestone. He said that this is the main lesson he took out of his time at the Camp Lejeune military base, learning that the bad form of leadership comes out of Wall Street and Silicon Valley. Infor certainly is a company to watch, and one that has gone from startup to tycoon in the blink of an eye.