While attending Hot Springs High School, Phyllis Rogers stumbled upon an accounting class and decided to take it.
“It was the best thing I ever did,” said Rogers, 49. “It was such a practical application of numbers that it still fed my love of numbers but in a very practical way.”
After taking the class, Rogers knew she was going to be an accountant.
She majored in accounting when she attended the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville in the early 1980s.
One of her early jobs was at Stephens Diversified Leasing Corp., a division of Stephens Holdings Inc. of Little Rock. SunTrust Credit, a subsidiary of SunTrust Banks Inc. of Atlanta, bought Stephens Diversified in 1995. As vice president and controller for SunTrust, Rogers was responsible for a loan/lease portfolio worth more than $250 million.
In 2000, Rogers’ husband saw a help wanted ad for Delta Dental of Arkansas Inc., the nonprofit dental benefits provider that has its headquarters in Sherwood, and encouraged her to apply.
The newly hired CEO, Ed Choate, interviewed Rogers and “assured me that he was changing the culture of the company to an environment that was open, honest, [and had] high integrity,” Rogers said.
She said that vision of the company was important to her, and she took the job.
When Rogers arrived at Delta in 2000 as vice president of finance, the financial system needed to be upgraded.
“We were billing dental premiums to all of these companies and manually tracking the receivables,” Rogers said. “So it was not a good place for a company of $133 million in revenue.”
Also, the underwriting relied on the former CEO’s “instinct,” Rogers said.
A structured rating system was installed for plans to “ensure that we were collecting sufficient premiums to pay out claims and pay our expenses,” she said.
Rogers was quickly promoted to senior vice president and CFO.
The company’s revenue climbed over the years. Delta Dental’s revenue is projected at $405.1 million for 2012.
In 2012, Delta agreed to an affiliation with Renaissance Health Service Corp. of Lansing, Mich., one of the largest dental plan administrators in the nation. Rogers was appointed to represent Delta Dental on the Renaissance Core Integration Team.
Away from the office, Rogers serves on the board of the CARTI Foundation, where she is the chairwoman for the grant committee. She also volunteers at the Arkansas Rice Depot and the Greek Food Festival.
“I have a desire to give back to the community,” Rogers said. “At Delta Dental, our mission is to improve the oral health of Arkansans. … That’s another thing that connects me to the company.”