Tony Mather has left his position as CIO of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to return to the private sector.

An FCO spokeswoman told the government department is in the process of recruiting Mather’s replacement and hopes to appoint someone “very shortly”.

Mather, who became the FCO CIO in 2007, has been appointed CIO at outdoor media display company Clear Channel Outdoor, with responsibility for all aspects of IT infrastructure across its international business. The company owns and operates more than 973,000 advertising displays in more than 50 countries, including airport, rail, taxi and shopping mall advertising businesses.

Tony Mather

Former FCO CIO Tony Mather
(Photo credit: FCO)

Mather replaces Clear Channel Outdoor’s former CIO Mark Reid and will report to the company’s COO Jonathan Bevan, who said in a statement: “I am delighted to welcome Tony to the company and look forward to working with him in delivering integrated IT solutions to streamline and add value to our global network.”

Mather is no stranger to the private sector. Before working in government IT, he spent four years as global service delivery director at industrial gas company BOC, and prior to that held roles at Safeway Stores, Pepsi and British Airways.

“I am very much looking forward to this new role in a very exciting sector,” Mather told “I also hope that this move shows that you can spend time in a public sector role as part of normal career progression.”

In an interview with last year, Mather said many aspects of the CIO role are the same whether working in a public or private sector role, but noted the procurement process is one area where a public sector CIO’s job can be more challenging.

“You’ve got quite an overhead in terms of what you have to go through,” he said, adding: “It’s something that’s affected some of the decisions I’ve been able to take within the FCO. I would have had many more options open to me had I been in the private sector.”

Mather was last week named one of the most influential and innovative CIOs in the UK, after being placed seventh in this year’s CIO50.

The the full list of the UK’s 50 top CIOs can be found here.