MT’s 35 Women Under 35 will be published later this month – our annual list of the young women we think are set to rule the business world in the future. It’s now in its 16th year, and previous 35 Under 35ers have gone one to achieve great things. Not least Alex Mahon, who was yesterday announced as the new CEO of Channel 4.
That makes her the first woman to lead a major British broadcaster. Mahon previously ran Shine, the TV production company behind shows like Masterchef, and is currently CEO of Foundry, which makes visual effects software used by Hollywood Film Studios.
‘Alex is an outstanding leader and a highly experienced CEO who has developed and grown major international businesses in both the creative and technology sectors,’ said Channel 4’s chair Charles Gurassa. ‘She brings an impressive combination of relevant experience and is brilliantly placed to help steer Channel 4 through the competitive challenges and opportunities ahead.’
The broadcaster is publically owned (but independently operated) and the Conservative Party’s manifesto commits to moving it outside the capital – hot on the heels of the Beeb. So one of Mahon’s first tasks is likely to be finding a new home for the company. Whether that will be as far away as Salford Quays remains to be seen.
Back in her Shine days MT sat down with Mahon to talk hobbies, handbags and hiking up Kilimanjaro.
By Elizabeth Anderson - First published August 2013
Q: Signature style?
My signature dress style tends to be casual and informal. Working in TV means you speak to so many people and it's better to feel more relaxed. I wear heels - Jimmy Choos are my favourite, but I could be wearing Campers the next day.
Q: How do you get to work?
If I'm doing a day at the office I'll often cycle to work, which takes about 10 minutes from my home in Little Venice. If I have a meeting or I'm going to the airport, then I'll jump in a cab.
Q: Favourite restaurant?
The Wolseley for a business dinner. For gluttony, Burger and Lobster.
Q: How does your day start?
By being harassed by my children at 6.30am. I have four children aged six and under, so my mornings are frantic and I aim to leave the house by 8.15am. I couldn't survive without my nanny, a New Zealander.
Currently a grey Smythson. I don't have an excessive number of handbags - I've probably got about 20.
Q: Favourite designers?
My favourite clothes brands are Alexander McQueen and Erdem, although you'll often spot me in a pair of J Brand jeans for work.
Q: Do you get your nails done?
I regularly have a pedicure and get my toenails painted at a cheap Korean place near me. I get my nails done less frequently. I like shellac but only every other month because it can ruin your nails.
Q: Who does your hair?
Joel Goncalves at John Frieda does my hair every two months and I always have a style that doesn't involve much work in the morning.
Q: Do you go to the gym?
I work out with a personal trainer three times a week and we focus on dynamic exercise.
Q: Favourite drink?
I like a drink - a heavy red wine like a malbec or a margarita - but I don't get much chance in the week.
Q: What do you do at the weekend?
I spend time with my children on weekends - we'll go to an exhibition or the park.
Q: Essential travel items?
I always take a Brookstone velvet eye mask to help me sleep during the flight. My headphones, Beats by Dr Dre, are also essential. I use them to watch Shine's TV shows on my iPad. The Bridge is one of my favourites at the moment. I always take an upband by Jawbone too. It's a pedometer and a sleep tracker, which means I can monitor my sleep as I go between different time zones.
Q: How often are you away?
I travel a lot. I did 12 foreign trips in one month recently, and that included Australia and LA.
Q: Any useful apps you'd recommend?
I use the Ocado app (I am on the board) to do the family's food shopping while I'm away and I use the Sky+ app to record any TV shows I'm missing.
Q: Favourite hotel?
My favourite hotel is the London West Hollywood in LA. It's in a great location and has nice big rooms. When on holiday, I love the Sirenuse on the Amalfi coast, which has fantastic food and is near a beautiful beach.
Q: Which business person do you most admire?
Gail Rebuck, chair of Penguin Random House UK. She's quite spectacular - very intelligent and really approachable.
Q: Do you network?
I'm a member of Bafta and on the International Emmy committee, so I often go to industry events. I never miss the head-hunter Jan Hall Associates drinks and I go to TED every other year for inspiration and to get new ideas.
Q: Any hobbies?
I like architecture. I recently went to the Richard Rogers art exhibition which was spectacular, and if I'm in Sydney I go to the modern art museum. I collect photography and go to Paris Photo once a year. I'm also into house design. One of my favourite shops is Svenskt Tenn in Stockholm. I like to go there and look at the fabrics. Some of us are thinking of doing a hike up Kilimanjaro next year so I need to start training for that.