Alex Mahon – CEO, Channel 4, Creative Thinking

Topical keynote Speakers & Experts -

About Alex Mahon

Alex is the first woman to serve as Chief Executive of a major UK broadcaster.

After a career embracing TV production and technology, she leads a company that is as respected for its creativity and independent spirit as it is for its pioneering commitment to diversity and social issues.

She explores how to be a values-led, authentic leader, even in tough times, how technology disrupts established models, and the myths and realities of managing and catering for Gen Z.

As CEO of Channel 4, Alex Mahon is the first female chief executive of a major UK broadcaster. She has transformed the business into a digital-first public media company.

Behind the scenes, she has put diversity and equitable representation alongside creativity at the centre of the organisation.

Having worked as a scientist, a face painter, and a kitchen porter, Alex started a career in TV production with roles at Talkback Thames and FremantleMedia. She then led a series of creative production companies that focused on growth and global expansion, including serving as CEO of Shine Group, the company behind shows ranging from international hit MasterChef to acclaimed drama Broadchurch.

Alex Mahon Keynote Speaker

She then moved to Foundry, a cutting-edge visual effects software business at the forefront of new ways of making film and TV.

At Channel 4, Alex has successfully managed a wide range of challenges from meeting rapidly changing audience expectations to embracing new technologies to pressure to diversify the media workforce.

With its unique public-private funding model, Channel 4 is subject to a high level of government, regulator and media scrutiny.

Alex has led a business that has continued to balance creative, challenging programming with public service responsibilities.

At the same time, she has tackled practical challenges such as an increased presence in the regions and nations of the UK and building a reputation for diversifying the talent pool behind and in front of the camera with schemes like 4Skills.

Alex continues Channel 4’s reputation as a disruptive, independent, pioneering organisation on screen and off.

Her time in charge has seen an increasing integration of linear broadcast and streaming platforms.

Programming continues to lead national conversations in areas like diversity and social change, with the company often mirroring the on-air content.

That approach is exemplified by Alex’s lead in reviewing Channel 4’s policies to support employees experiencing menopause, fertility issues or pregnancy loss, effectively breaking a long standing corporate taboo.

As well as exploring ideas and styles of leadership, Alex recounts her personal experiences of leading change, growth and innovation, dealing with crises and remaining authentic.

Building on extensive research into Gen Z, Alex also considers how brands and business of all types manage and speak to this group as both consumers and colleagues.

She looks at how to incubate and capture creativity in an organisation, and how to build a culture that is both unique, open and supportive.

And she explores the implications of catering to a digital-first audience that are overwhelmed by content options presented to them by algorithm.

Alex has served as Chair of the Royal Television Society Programme Awards, as a Non-Executive Director of the Edinburgh International Television Festival, a member of the DCMS Advisory Panel on the BBC and the UK Government Creative Industries Council, and as an ambassador for London Tech Week.

She is a founding member of WITs END, a women’s development network focused on the tech industry, was the recipient of Variety’s International Achievement in Television Award, and has been honoured with an International Royal Industrial Fellowship.

Alex’s guideline speech topics/themes

IMPROBABLE CANDIDATE

In this talk Alex will touch upon her principles of leadership, how she leads, and how
that maps to modern leadership in 2023.

It will include leading through change,leading through crisis, and what a modern workforce expects from ‘authentic’ Leaders.

She can talk about her own background and how it improbably led to an establishment job, as well as how she has managed that without losing her sense of self or personality.

This can also cover personal drivers, knowing your own narrative and story and tips and principles for leading in the workplace today.

Mahon has 4 children so this talk can also be adapted for the challenges of female leadership.

NERD TO MEDIA MOGUL

What do a scientist, a face painter, a kitchen porter and a CEO have in common?

They are all jobs that I have done and loved, at times, but not always.

How do you start off wanting to be an astronaut and then run a TV network.

It turns out that who you are precedes what you do and that we all need a decent level of self knowledge.

In this talk Alex runs through her background, how she understood what skills and abilities came naturally and how she has used that in her career.

ARE YOU A GROUNDBREAKER OR A GHOST

In this talk Alex will walk through the key principles of how to embed diversity, inclusion and then equity in your organisation and why it matters.

This will use Channel 4 as a world leader in the establishment of a diverse workforce including the impact on society by being a Broadcast network.

It also includes instruction on how to do this in other organisations, how to get started and how to handle setbacks.

Channel 4 is world renowned as the biggest broadcaster for the Paralympics and has radically changed perspectives on disability in the UK.

It was the organisation that eradicated the taboo around the word menopause and caused a run on HRT, it is famous for its representation and fight for the rights of the LGBT and ethnically diverse communities.

All of this has been enhanced and amplified under Mahon’s leadership.

GEN Z : YOUNG, PROGRESSIVE, ILLIBERAL, CONFLICTED

We read endlessly about Generation Z.

We are obsessed with how different they are, and mystified about how we should interact with them.

They are fundamental to our future yet can seem like a different species.

They are the most connected and the most judged in history.

They are schooled in video not words.

The majority of whatthey consume is controlled by algorithm rather than choice. For those of us over 25, those in companies or creating brands or being employers this is a generation we need to work with.

We employ them, we work alongside them, we sell to them, they are the consumers and rulers of the future.

In this talk you will learn about Gen Z in the UK today, about what they care about, where they spend their time and how they react emotionally to their digital world.

GOGGLE EYED BRITAIN

What happens to the world, to behaviour, to emotions and reactions when consumers spend more than half their waking day watching video on screens.

In the UK adults watch 5 and a half hours of video a day and it seems to only increase.

With a combination of original research and behavioural science Mahon will talk about what is happening in Britain today, how different types of viewing make people feel and what we may need to think about as societal impacts increase.

HOW TO BOTTLE LIGHTNING

Mahon has followed a path of building great value in companies that are in the business of creativity.

This has meant working with some of the most creative, the most wonderful and indeed the most complex people in the world.

Generally. That involves both great joy and great difficulty and is all about the management of culture.

The culture is the collective thought and soul of the company.

You cannot control it, you cannot hide it, but the right creative cultures have the potential to capture lightning in a bottle.

Whether you will capture the lightning is hard to know but it sure isn’t as simple as staying in one place with a few bottles and your fingers crossed.