He will take up his role on 22 June.
Underwood has worked in the media industry for 20 years and has substantial experience in successfully leading a wide range of business functions. He spent over 10 years in a series of senior executive roles with Channel 4, most recently as its CFO/COO, responsible for finance, technology, content management, broadcast and corporate operations, and workspace.
Recruited by Channel 4 in 2009 with an initial brief to drive digital business transformation, Underwood went on to lead the project to reinvent and relaunch Channel 4’s video-on-demand service, All4; to transform Channel 4’s digital development capabilities; and to successfully deliver a major change in the operating model of the business.
Before joining Channel 4, Underwood was employed by Discovery Networks International, Sky and PwC.
Underwood is currently a board member of Digital Catapult (the UK’s leading advanced digital technology innovation centre), having previously served as chairman of Freeview and a board director of Digital UK and YouView.
Annette Thomas, The Guardian’s chief executive, said: “I am pleased to welcome Keith to The Guardian. He brings us extensive experience in the sector and deep expertise in leading innovative change in highly respected mission-driven media businesses. I am looking forward to working with him as we continue to develop a financially sustainable future for The Guardian.”
Underwood added: “The Guardian is one of the world’s leading news publishers, and I’ve long admired its journalism, its brand and its record of digital innovation. I’m very pleased to be joining at this critical time for the media industry, and I look forward to working with Annette and everyone at GMG to help to develop the business.”