Hickson will lead the agency's core practice out of its London studio and will report to managing director Sam Kelly.
Her appointment is aimed at meeting requests from agency clients for brand experiences powered by the latest technology. This includes conversational interfaces, data and connected products.
During her year-and-a-half at TUI, Hickson managed its product and service development around the customer experience.
A spokeswoman for TUI said that Hickson's role would not be replaced as the company has had a restructure of the innovation team.
"Instead, we are adding more headcount at delivery levels to ensure we have a strong mix of skill sets in place for both R&D and idea implementation," she said.
Prior to TUI, Hickson has held senior positions at Home Retail Group; Argos, Habitat and Homebase where she helped to reinvent Argos as a digital retail leader through a transformation programme which reached all functions of the business.
"Jo has worked client side for many years setting up and defining their innovation strategies and frameworks with great success, and I’m excited to see how she can help our clients," Kelly said. "It’s great to have her join the leadership team at an exciting time in the London studio and develop our technology capabilities."
Hickson joins at a time of flux for AKQA. Most recently the agency dismissed its international creative director, Duan Evans, for disciplinary reasons, reportedly due to a complaint called in via WPP's whistleblower hotline.
In October last year, its London creative chief Wayne Deakin resigned after less than two years in the role.