Non Executive of the Year Award

MT (Mary Teresa) Rainey was born in Dumbarton in Scotland and educated at the University of Glasgow.


MT (Mary Teresa) Rainey was born in Dumbarton in Scotland and educated at the University of Glasgow. She began her career in advertising as an account planner at TBWA then at 80’s start-up Gold Greenlees Trott.

In 1983 she was headhunted by Jay Chiat to join his eponymous agency in California to work on the Apple account and other early Silicon Valley technology businesses. She rose to become head of planning at the agency, across three US offices, and was named Advertising Woman of The Year by Adweek in 1988.

After successfully launching the London office of Chiat/Day in 1990 as CEO, she left to form her own agency Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe in 1993. The agency grew quickly with clients like Virgin, Scottish & Newcastle, NI and Smith & Nephew. She sold the agency to Y&R in 1999, in a deal which saw the smaller agency take over the management of the larger one, and went on to drive significant further growth with accounts like Marks & Spencer, Lloyds TSB and the COI.

Having built the agency to a secure top five brand position in the UK, she resigned from her role as chair of the company in 2005.

Since leaving advertising, MT has devoted much of her time to building a social enterprise in the digital arena called, inspired by the potential of new media to create significant public value. is an online social network for safe, informal mentoring and now has over 45,000 members.

Also in 2005, MT began her engagement with Newcastle-based digital agency Th_nk through Lucy Armstrong’s Alchemists as mentor to its young founder Tarek Nseir.

She was quick to realise both his potential and the scope for growth of the company and the markets they serve. She decided to formalise her engagement with the company and became chairman in 2007 as part of a growth strategy in which she personally invested. The company opened a London office in 2008 and has grown with assignments from companies like BUPA, Blackberry, the BBC and JK Rowling’s Pottermore, and has recently topped The Pitch/ Marketing Week’s Digital Agency Reputation Survey.

MT says: “As an agency business I see all the same choices and challenges at Th_nk that I recognise from my previous career and I can see around some of those corners and over some of those short term horizons. Also, while the work at Th_nk is driven by digital technologies, consumers still need to be at the heart of everything we do for clients and that’s an anchor I can always provide”.

MT is also Vice Chair of Skillset, the Sector Skills Council for the Creative Industries, and is a former chairman of the Marketing Group of Great Britain.

The consortium of local businesses supporting this award includes The Alchemists, Baker Tilly, Brewin Dolphin, Grainger plc, Muckle LLP, North East Chamber of Commerce, NVM Private Equity, Port of Tyne, Yorkshire Bank


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer