'A peerless person': Tess Alps to retire as Thinkbox chair
In what the TV marketing body has described as "miserable" news, Tess Alps - the founding CEO and current non-executive chair of Thinkbox - is set to retire at the end of 2020.
Alps set up and became Thinkbox’s first CEO in 2006, a role she held until 2012. In 2018 she was awarded the Advertising Association's Mackintosh Medal, which recognises outstanding personal and public service to advertising and has been awarded only 10 times since 1980.
“We’ve been finding new ways to persuade Tess to stay on for years now, largely based on emotional blackmail, but this day had to come eventually," said Lindsey Clay, Thinkbox's CEO.
“This is obviously a sad moment for us, but also a wonderful excuse to shower praise upon a peerless person – something she’ll hate. No one has done more to champion TV, and advertising more widely. And no one has done so with more passion, integrity, conscience, wit, and success.
"I know I speak on behalf of everyone who has worked at Thinkbox, all our shareholders and pretty much the whole industry and anyone who has ever met her, when I wish her the best in her well-earned and hard-won retirement.
"Tess is a one-off, a wonder and we’ve been incredibly lucky to keep hold of her for so long. I feel blessed to have had her as my mentor."
Before setting up Thinkbox, Alps was the chair of PHD Group in the UK. In her 13 years with PHD she played many roles, including six years running the group's content division, Drum.
Commenting on her decision, Alps said: “I don’t want to come over all Theresa May, but it truly has been the honour of my life to be part of Thinkbox for the last fourteen years. I only meant to stay for three, but TV has been in such an exciting and dynamic phase for all that time that it’s been hard to drag myself away.
"I’m proud that Thinkbox has been part of helping the marketing community fully appreciate its pre-eminent contribution to our cultural and commercial life, not just in the UK but globally. TV will continue to evolve and thrive and Thinkbox will be there to guide advertisers through."
Alps added that she will remain a council member of the Advertising Standards Authority for the next three years and hopes to continue to make a contribution to the ad industry, but that "it's now the moment for me to spend more time with my cabbages".
In recent years Alps has been a member of industry organisations including the Marketing Society, BAFTA and the Royal Television Society.
She has also been involved in charitable projects such as Women in Advertising and Communications London (WACL), NABS, and the timeTo initiative tackling sexual harassment within the sector.
John Litster, managing director of Sky Media and chair of the Thinkbox board, added: “Tess was my first ever boss when I joined the industry as an assistant a little while back. She was my best ever boss and I never stopped learning from her.
"On behalf of the Thinkbox board, I’d like to thank her for her incredible contribution, her profound legacy, and to wish her all the best in the future.”