Career changes that prove life exists after being a CIO

Two silicon.com CIO50 alumni lift the lid on what they did next...

...working on his consultancy businesses and oversees Jocalatte in terms of dealing with requests and looking after the books. He employs a manager who looks after the day-to-day running of the shop while he works in the office above.

In this way, Pedersen has been able to combine his career with a longer term ambition to run a coffee shop. "I love chocolate so the idea of combining them into a little shop was always in the back of my mind," he says.

Pedersen and his wife collect art and antiques which they sell via earthcollection.com and in Jocalatte. Some of the items that won't fit into the Pedersen home are displayed in the shop with some "little curious items" for sale.

The consultancy work Pedersen now does is helping small and medium-sized businesses without a dedicated CIO or IT manager by "reassessing existing operations" and what they can do in the future.

Assignments can take anywhere from a single day to several weeks and Pedersen's work sometimes takes him to the US and Europe as well as around the UK. "It varies quite a lot. Some weeks I'm flat out with not enough time and other weeks there's plenty of time to do other things as well," he says.

Of his new professional life, Pedersen said he's enjoying the freedom it offers as well as the variety of things he can do in his consultancy work. "It's a more stress-free way of working. I have greater freedom and obviously no targets to achieve and deliver to. And the targets I do work to are targets I set myself," he says.

Another benefit of Pedersen's new way of working is that he can take a more considered approach to work as he's less bound by the pressures and fast-moving nature of working in a corporate environment.

"I think it's enabled me to start to look at things from the high ground, to step away and look at things in perspective much more in a much calmer and more rounded way," he says.

"I'm probably better positioned now because I actually have a little bit more time to evaluate the new information I digest every day and can do it in a more measured way. When you're running from meeting to meeting, you're trying to digest stuff and you never know what's important. I probably do it better now because I have the perspective to do it with. I'm probably more current with my knowledge than I was [when I was CTO]," he adds.

However, he admits he misses some elements of working in a corporate environment, such as being able to motivate a young team of IT professionals to deliver projects on time.

He also misses being involved in projects to their completion, as his consultancy role gives him an input for a short time before leaving the implementation work he has been involved in planning to others.

"I'm missing the achievement of delivering what I've visualised and put on the table and walking away to the next thing. That is, weirdly enough, something I find myself missing from time to time but equally it's horses for courses and I do a greater variety of things now."

He describes it as a very independent way of life and enjoyable in many respects. "But it doesn't come without giving up other parts of your working life, which is working more closely with other people and seeing the fruits of your efforts in a more tangible way," he adds.

Although he decided to work independently when he left figleaves, Pedersen hasn't discounted the idea of taking up a CTO role again.

He has had a number of opportunities to step back into the corporate world but hasn't felt they were worth giving up his current professional life for. "I can't say whether one day I might dive back into corporate life but it would need to be an interesting and fulfilling role for me to do that," he says.

Robin Dargue: From using tech to selling it

In contrast to Pedersen, Robin Dargue has very much stayed in the corporate world but the big change for him has been moving from a non-tech company in the form of Royal Mail to tech vendor Alcatel-Lucent.

Dargue topped the silicon.com CIO50 list during his time at Royal Mail and was previously CIO at drinks company Diageo.

But in April 2010, Dargue announced his departure from Royal Mail before joining French telecoms and networking technology company Alcatel-Lucent in August as executive vice president of business and IT transformation.

In some ways, Dargue's role at Alcatel-Lucent is...