Media mogul awarded honorary degree from RGU

Ellis Watson, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Scottish media group DC Thomson, has received an honorary award of Doctor of Business Administration (Hon DBA) from Robert Gordon University (RGU).

Ellis Watson, Doctor of Business Administration (Hon DBA) from Robert Gordon University (RGU) 325 x 488The Principal and Vice-Chancellor of RGU, Professor Ferdinand von Prondzynski, conferred the award at the university’s graduation ceremony in recognition of Mr Watson’s significant contribution to and leadership in the media industry.

Professor Ferdinand von Prondzynski, said: “Ellis Watson is an enormously talented businessman who has made some significant achievements throughout his very successful career. His life-long contribution to the media industries has seen him hold numerous roles which combine creativity and commerce, and showcase his passion for quality, integrity and diversity.”

Mr Watson is currently CEO of DC Thomson, the Scottish media group. He previously headed Simon Cowell’s joint venture with Sony, and turned around the legendary Greyhound Bus business.

His first break came as Marketing Director at The Sun, reporting directly to Rupert Murdoch. He then became CEO of Celador International, licensing ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?’ to 100 countries and overseeing 130 branded consumer products before being lured back to Fleet Street as MD of Mirror Group Newspapers.

After a spell with Menzies, Mr Watson next accepted an invitation to join the board of FirstGroup, the world’s biggest privately owned public transport operator. They parachuted him in to Ohio to address the ailing fortunes at Greyhound. Founded in 1914, it was a $3bn concern with 3,400 bus stations, 17,000 buses and 27,000 employees; but it was broken and losing share to internal airlines. Within 14 months Mr Watson had re-equipped the fleet, rejuvenated the brand and reinvented the culture (starting with mystery shoppers and training camps). Greyhound is now building a reputation for safety, reliability, comfort and above all, service.

In his current role at DC Thomson, Mr Watson is steering a traditional firm that has been family run for six generations into a future-proofed organisation. He’s increased turnover at the papers and moved The Beano, part of the fabric of the company, from print to digital. 

In presentations Mr Watson argues that a significant external shock, like recession, can be a springboard for positive change. He shows how to inspire passion when under pressure, and how to progress from mission statements to true company culture embracing quality, integrity and diversity.

Mr Watson is known as one of the most inspiring and intelligent keynote speakers in Britain. 


Release by Kate Yuill
Communications Officer | Business, Management and Law
Press and Media Enquiries