Ellis Watson

Future-Proofing & Cultural Transformation Authority

In a varied executive career Ellis Watson has turned-around, rebranded, overhauled, reinvigorated and expanded businesses from entertainment to transport. Starting out in newspapers Ellis’s first break came as Marketing Director at The Sun, later reporting directly to Rupert Murdoch. He then became CEO of Celador International, taking Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? to over 100 countries. He was lured back to Fleet Street as MD of Mirror Group Newspapers, giving him his first leadership role in a PLC.

Ellis then led distribution and logistics business John Menzies before joining the board of FirstGroup to turn-around the fortunes of iconic transport behemoths like Greyhound across the Americas. This latter role saw him radically challenge a culture of low morale, poor service and bad public perception across a vast, overstretched network.

As global CEO of Simon Cowell’s Syco Corporation, Ellis took an array of record labels and programme formats, including the X Factor and Got Talent formats, to international success. Whilst at Scottish media group DC Thomson, he helped steer a traditional, family run firm into a resilient, future-proofed organisation by transforming the group’s business models, brands and commercial direction, including expanding into the digital and data domains. His work has seen him appointed by the First Minister of Scotland as a Global Scot, and by the Treasury to the government task force on Scotland.

Ellis challenges, motivates and advises with an original insight, enthusiasm and humour that is rare amongst senior business figures. Whether it’s the wrecking-ball nature of the digital revolution or shifts in the economic environment, he argues that external shocks and disruption 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.

With fascinating views on leading through disruption, improving processes, and dealing with the complexities of governance and talent management, Ellis is known as one of the most inspiring, intelligent and entertaining keynote speakers in the country.

Above all Ellis will showcase how organisational cultures evolve as a result of the quality and diversity of the individuals employed. You will walk away with key tools on how to deal with disruptive forces, create a positive culture, and inspire enthusiasm throughout the organisation and move from mission statement to fighting spirit: 

“There’s no point in waiting and hoping for a wave; go and create one yourself.”

 

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