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by Ruaraidh Gilmour
13 January 2023
Former CEO of DC Thomson appointed as Chief Business Advisor to the First Minister

Nicola Sturgeon | Alamy

Former CEO of DC Thomson appointed as Chief Business Advisor to the First Minister

The former chief executive of publishing company DC Thomson has been appointed as a chief business advisor to the First Minister.

Ellis Watson will take on the sustainable growth and long-term economic success targets of the Scottish Government in his new role.

He will work directly with Nicola Sturgeon to identify the priorities of the business community and will help to shape the government's support and response.  

Watson has held positions in several companies including John Menzies, First Group, News Corporation, Syco and DC Thomson.

The appointment follows the publication of Scotland’s National Strategy for Economic Transformation (NSET), which sets out how the Scottish Government will maximise Scotland’s economic potential over the next 10 years, which was published in March 2022.

It is a non-remunerated appointment and is the first of two business advisor roles to be appointed.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “Breaking down the barriers between businesses and government and sharing ideas about what works and what doesn’t will help the Scottish Government to continue to support growth and deliver long-term economic success for Scotland.  

"Businesses are currently contending with the ongoing impact of Brexit and Scotland’s removal from the European single market, the cost crisis, and the transition to net zero – all at the same time as we recover from the repercussions of the pandemic.

“Ellis’s appointment will open up a constant, direct dialogue between government and the private sector so we can listen directly to what really matters to business people in Scotland.

“Ellis is an outstanding business leader with a successful track record in many high-profile companies with an international reach. His support will be invaluable in setting an agenda that listens to business and creates an environment in which they wish to invest and develop talent in Scotland.”

Watson said: “Scotland’s economic success has never been so dependent on the health of our businesses.  The private sector sometimes feels government is disconnected from their needs, and I’m determined to ensure we meet the challenges with a robust candour to reach our country’s commercial potential."

Earlier this week, the Scottish Government's chief entrepreneurial adviser Mark Logan defended his £200,000 a year salary, telling the parliament’s Economy and Fair Work Committee that the sum represents value for money given his senior position in the tech sector.

Conservative MSP Graham Simpson said the remuneration package equates to £2,000 a day for two days’ work a week, noting that that is “more than the First Minister earns”.

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