Adrian Cowderoy

I am a Chartered IT Professional who specialises in innovation in online behaviour, and how to help people make the most of it. (One of my joys has been watching the opportunities it opens for young professionals.) This is my career history, in brief.

The roles I take are programme manager, project manager or agile delivery manager, depending on the context. I specialise in working with diverse stakeholders and practitioners. I lead people through difficult transitions using my enthusiasm, knowledge and communication skills.

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Early pointers

My first IT job was working for a large computer manufacturer. It was a structured method of working that pioneered aspects of what would later become software engineering. I was also involved in developing some of the first personal computers. Our dream was of having a computer on everyone’s desk in the office, all linked via a network – though none of us realised how far the dream had come.

That phase of my career finished when I went Imperial College to study for an MSc in management science. Management Science intrigued me as a hybrid between operational research and an MBA.

Research years

After my MSc I stayed at the Imperial College Business School as a researcher, working on million-euro European research projects as part of the EU Framework programme. My initial research focussed on ways of predicting project costs and measuring software complexity. I then had the luck to work on the risk management methodologies that are now widely used in the private and public sector (and which have also influenced the intelligence profession). I also led the European-funded MultiSpace project, which built an intellectual framework for measuring quality for the web and multimedia. The results of that have fed into other innovations international standards.

The Dotcom era

Professional Spirit logoIn 2000 I co-founded Professional Spirit Ltd with a friend, Mehrtash A’Zami. It was at the peak of the dotcom bubble. The first version of Professional Spirit was conceived as a service provider to professional associations and institutes. It was similar to but a year ahead of it. The website never launched – the British investors saw no future in such a venture.

Mehrtash and I rebuilt the company. Its new focus was to build an online trading platform for accountants, financial advisors and other consultants. Using the new website, professionals and their clients could quickly contract and obtain expert consultancy online. It meant small consultants and freelances could offer services to compete with much larger practices.

Professional Spirit never made it. The technology was built, staff were recruited, but there was no money for the launch or marketing. So the company closed. With hindsight, it was a good idea for its time. But not now. The world has moved on and found other ways to fill the need. But perhaps it would have moved faster with our model.

Online publishing and e-commerce

After Professional Spirit, Mehrtash headed off in his own direction and I decided it was time for a more conventional career. But I found a lot of suspicion to someone who has built a start-up and sought normal employment. I had to start again, initially as a business analyst. I then developed skills at helping publishing companies transform their online business towards “digital first”. In digital first they publish online before publishing to print.

Career history – where next

Currently I’m on assignment at the BMI Group, working on the biggest online challenge I’ve ever managed. … More coming, when it’s launched.