Debra Lilley steps down as chairman as UK Oracle User Group votes for major restructure

After three months as chairman of the UKOUG, Debra Lilley has stepped down in a major reorganisation to change how the group represents its members.

After three months as chairman of the UK Oracle User Group (UKOUG), Debra Lilley has stepped down in a major reorganisation to change how the group represents its members. She will now take on the role of president of the council and leader of the user group.

The UKOUG is an independent organisation with more than 15,000 individual members that provides representation and support for the Oracle business community. Debra Lilley was named the first female chairman of UKOUG in March 2011.

As Oracle acquired companies such as Sun Microsystems, JD Edwards and Retek, the user group had to cater for an increasingly diverse set of member requirements.

Lilley previously said in an interview with Computer Weekly that the UKOUG needs to acknowledge and cater for a community that is no longer be "wall-to-wall Oracle".

UKOUG restructure

At its annual general meeting last night, the UK Oracle User Group approved a reorganisation by 95% majority vote to provide greater representation of its diverse community.

As part of the restructure, Debra Lilley is stepping down as chairman of the UKOUG to become the president of the council and leader of the user group.

The UKOUG created an elected council of 15 to represent members alongside an executive board to manage business aspects and a board of directors to look after the governance of the organisation. The user group was previously governed by a board of 12 members.

In a statement, the UKOUG said: "For members, the changes mean better representation of a diverse membership, concentrated focus on member needs and ultimately a more influential relationship with Oracle."

Changes to cater for growing community

Speaking to Computer Weekly, Lilley said the changes would allow her to focus on membership needs without worrying about funding. "It is definitely right to split the halves. We are splitting what we do from how we do it," she said.

"From a personal point of view, being chairman of the board of directors made me proud, but it would be wrong for me to remain as president and chairman. It wouldn't give a clear message about making change," she added.

Lilley said the changes were the most significant in the user group's 25-year history, reflecting the growth of its community.

"As the community has grown, the formal structure of a legal part and representation part was unable to cope with the growth and added complexity to the business," she said.

Supporting a more diverse user group

In an interview with Computer Weekly in June 2011, Lilley outlined hopes to bring the UKOUG up to date with changes resulting from Oracle's many acquisitions.

Oracle spent $7bn (£4.4bn) buying Sun Microsystems in 2009, the ailing Unix hardware manufacturer, which added to the acquisition of PeopleSoft, JD Edwards and Retek in 2005, as well as the buy-out of performance management software provider Hyperion Solutions for £1.73bn cash.

"The Oracle community has changed over the past five to six years. A lot of the people in the community are not wall-to-wall Oracle since its acquisition programme. We need to acknowledge and cater for that," said Lilley.

She added that the diversity of the products in hardware and operating systems, as well as the breadth of people in the community, including technology professionals, operations and networking staff, meant the user group now requires information in different ways (whether through an informal meet-up in the pub or a formal user conference).

Growing independence from Oracle

Lilley previously said her role put her in a unique position to juggle independently user group concerns while assisting Fujitsu with its Oracle strategy.

"I immediately know about Oracle announcements as soon as they become available. But if Oracle tells me something under non-disclosure, it stays that way," she said.

"It's enough to say I understand Oracle. There is a fine line and I'm conscious of it. I wouldn't have been re-elected six times if I hadn't got it right," added Lilley.

However, the changes suggest a shift in focus towards a greater independence for the user group.

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