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Charles Phillips, President / Oracle

Oracle is on a tear. Since December, it has gobbled up nine companies, including some of the biggest stars in the enterprise applications firmament—PeopleSoft, Retek and, most recently, Siebel Systems. In the process, the company also has aggressively wooed channel partners in the hope of grabbing share in the wide-open midmarket.

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And while Oracle, Redwood Shores, Calif., is awash in aggressive behavior—thanks to the example of its iconic CEO, Larry Ellison—it&'s no stretch to credit much of Oracle&'s latest market thrusts to its president, Charles Phillips. One of three who share that title, Phillips is responsible for Oracle&'s corporate strategy as well as global field operations, including consulting, marketing, sales, alliances and channels.

Managing to look far younger than his 46 years, Phillips is no stranger to heady responsibility. Before shocking Wall Street by moving to Oracle, he was managing director of Morgan Stanley&'s technology group during the go-go days of the tech bubble. Before that, he was a captain in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Now he has turned his knack for discipline and strategy toward Oracle&'s channel sales efforts—reining in field sales reps&' unfettered poaching of channel sales, convincing JD Edwards partners they are loved and adding distributors to recruit new VARs and consulting partners.

Without question, Phillips is the man behind Oracle&'s new channel-friendly attitude. Oracle will need to reinforce that impression if it hopes to achieve its current goal: overtaking SAP in applications sales. Even if you were to count in Siebel, Oracle&'s app business would be less than a third of SAP&'s $711 million in third-quarter software sales. But both software juggernauts recognize this battle will eventually be decided in the midmarket, where a strong channel is crucial.

The games have begun. And Phillips is a master player.

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