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Career changes that prove life exists after being a CIO

Two silicon.com CIO50 alumni lift the lid on what they did next...
Peter Pedersen traded the corporate world for a coffee shop in Cambridge

Former figleaves.com CTO Peter Pedersen traded the corporate world for his own coffee and chocolate shopPhoto: Jocalatte.com

You might think when IT professionals reach the heady heights of CIO, they'd want to stay there for the rest of their career. But not all CIOs feel that way and a number go on to do quite different things.

Some have made the leap to CEO, such as former Tesco CIO Philip Clarke and former Betfair CTO David Yu who made the same move several years ago.

Others have taken up different roles in the same company, such as Rolls Royce CIO Jonathan Mitchell, who is now director of corporate development for the organisation.

Meanwhile, other CIOs have gone on to work as independent technology consultants and a handful have left the IT profession and corporate world behind completely.

But what motivates people to move on to other roles after being CIO at some of the biggest companies in the world?

silicon.com recently caught up with former figleaves.com CTO Peter Pedersen and former Royal Mail CIO Robin Dargue - both of whom have moved away from the traditional CIO role - to find out the reasons for their change in career path.

Peter Pedersen: Coffee and consultancy

Peter Pedersen decided to leave the corporate world behind in 2009 to pursue a more independent and carefree professional life.

During a long career in tech, Danish-born Pedersen has run a digital agency, masterminded Channel 4's websites and been CTO of online gambling company Blue Square. He appeared on the silicon.com CIO50 in 2007 when he was CTO at Blue Square's parent company, the Rank Group, and subsequently joined online retailer figleaves.com.

How things have changed. Pedersen now owns and runs the Jocalatte coffee and chocolate shop in Cambridge, which he combines with being an IT consultant, a business he manages from the office above the shop.

However, it was never a conscious decision to stop being a CTO, according to Pedersen. In 2009, he was forced to take 10 weeks away from his role at figleaves.com due to ill health and returned to "a dramatically changed" business.

The company was feeling the stress of the financial downturn and so wasn't in a position to invest in technology to drive the business into new areas.

Pedersen had always been involved in innovation and developing new ways of using technology, so the situation at figleaves wasn't ideal. "I've always seen myself as a technology builder and innovator rather than a business-as-usual person - there are people that do that far better than me," Pedersen tells silicon.com.

"So I didn't really see my role there as being potentially very significant because it was just a business-as-usual role and I agreed with the board that it was time for me to do something else, which is when I started to think about what I was going to do next and ventured into consultancy straight away with a few assignments," he adds.

He initially started working from home but soon realised he wanted an office to avoid the distractions of DIY and his garden.

"So I was actually looking for a small office in Cambridge and came across a shop for sale that had an office above it, and thought it would be ideal to start a little coffee and chocolate shop and I could have the office above it. So I bought the shop and refurbished it and started that business and I'm now operating from my office above it."

Pedersen now spends most of his time...

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