It’s the first certificate he has received since earning a swimming badge in 1979.
But yesterday, Ellis Watson, 49, chief executive of DC Thomson media group, was awarded an honorary doctorate in Business Administration from Robert Gordon University.
In welcoming the assembled class of 2017, he told them: “Word up to you my alumni; gorgeous, exhausted, overdrawn, bewildered, fake-tanned and phone-addicted little millennium scroll hunters – you made it to the finish line – you rock.”
Warning the crowd it was not going to be “your usual acceptance speech”, the newly-appointed Dr Watson viewed it as elementary to pass on some sage career advice which, if followed, would lead to an “awesome” future.
Firstly he said: “Do your best. Like yourself – don’t ever lose your curiosity and wonder.”
And he added: “One of the most surprising weapons of commercial growth is being kind in the workplace.
“Be really, really nice to people. Talk to strangers, pay it forward – generate some ying to get back some yang.”
Lastly, he advised all the graduates to “have a hoot”, and delivered the message: “Have fun – in dirty great big dollops. It is a wonderful lubricant to productivity.”
Mr Watson is currently steering the traditional firm, which has been family-run for six generations into a “future-proofed” organisation.
He has increased turnover at the papers and moved The Beano, part of the fabric of the company, from print to digital.
He previously had a spell with Menzies and was briefly on the board of FirstGroup in Aberdeen. They parachuted him into Ohio to address the ailing fortunes at Greyhound.
However, his first break came as Marketing Director at The Sun, reporting directly to Rupert Murdoch.
He subsequently became CEO of Celador International, licensing ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?’ to 100 countries and overseeing 130 branded consumer products before being attracted back to Fleet Street as MD of Mirror Group Newspapers.
Having recently announced he will be leaving DC Thomson in April 2020, Mr Watson is counting down the days until he sails into the sunset with wife Kerry and their daughter Piper.
He added: “I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.
“It’s down to you – take hold of your life and drive it like you stole it.”