Hachette is creating the role for Kirkman ahead of a period of development and growth that will see it launch more magazines.
Kirkman, 39, who has more than 20 years' experience in media, will be responsible for advertising sales and a 65-strong team across Hachette's nine magazines.
He left Carat in July after turning down a new position when it decided to integrate its TV and press buying departments.
His appointment as a UK board director of Hachette completes the management line-up put in place by its chairman, Kevin Hand, since the formation of the company a year ago following its acquisition of the Elle and Red titles from Emap and the takeover of Attic Futura.
Kirkman said: "I liked Kevin enormously and he told a good story about the objectives of Hachette and what they're planning. It's a monstrous business outside the UK and Kevin has plans to turn it into a leading publishing house here."
At Carat, Kirkman built one of the largest press departments in the UK, responsible for billings of more than £250 million. He also ran the LVMH and Specsavers accounts.
Previously, he was a director at Yershon Media Buying and worked at Still Price Court Twivy D'Souza and Saatchi & Saatchi.
Hand said: "At a time when the advertising industry is rapidly changing, Tim, with his insight into the requirements of clients and agencies, is perfectly placed to lead Hachette's very talented team into the second year and beyond."
As well as the women's monthly titles, Hachette owns teenage magazines such as Sugar and the TV titles Inside Soap and TV Hits.
Hand has built a seven-strong board to take the publisher forward. This follows a management restructure that took place earlier in the year and the departure of the managing director, Vivien Cotterill, who was previously the managing director of Attic Futura.