Tess Alps, founding chief executive and current non-executive chair of Thinkbox, is retiring at the end of the year after 14 years with the organisation.
Alps, who is also council member of the Advertising Standards Authority, has enjoyed a long and varied career in advertising and is the 2018 recipient of the Mackintosh Medal from the Advertising Association (an award given for outstanding service to the ad industry). Before Thinkbox, she was chair of PHD Group in the UK. Alps also worked at several ITV companies and was one of the few women to reach the level of sales director.
Lindsey Clay, Thinkbox’s chief executive, said: "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. She has long been desperate to retire properly and focus on writing, gardening and all the numerous other things she’s brilliant at. Her broad beans’ gain is our immense loss.
"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."
Alps is an emeritus member of the Marketing Group of Great Britain, fellow of The Marketing Society, Bafta member and fellow of the Royal Television Society. In 2007, she was awarded the outstanding achievement award by Women in Film & TV and in 2013 was voted Media Leader of the Decade by the readers of Haymarket’s brand titles.
Moreover, she is involved in a variety of charitable projects as past president and honorary member of Wacl, where she helped launch its annual conference for upcoming women, now called Gather. Alps was a trustee of Nabs for three years and is now a patron, and in 2018 helped to create the TimeTo initiative, which aims to address the problem of sexual harassment within the industry.
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 14 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.
"Leaving the amazing team at Thinkbox will be a huge wrench; they are the reason Thinkbox has been so successful and they are world-class. I owe them everything and I love them to bits. I am also very grateful to Thinkbox’s shareholders, who have given me their unwavering support over the years.
"Thank you to the many people who have helped me and been such great friends across my 43-year career. It’s now the moment for me to spend more time with my cabbages."