ICR Consilium Conscience
Meet Tom M. Ryan, Founder & CEO of ICR
2023 is my 25th year as Co-Founder and CEO of ICR. It’s a title that I’ve always struggled with because I’m not the smartest person at ICR by a long shot. But what I seem to understand better than most is the DNA of organizations. Someone has to be team captain and for now, that’s me.
As many people know, I started the business with two close friends from high school and I still view the Company as a small band of renegades set on changing the world. But a lot has changed since 1998. My two founding partners passed away in 2008 and 2010, respectively, and it’s still tough to imagine how two people so young (44 and 45) could be taken from us in such a short period of time. That period also coincided with the great financial crisis and our President Don Duffy’s wife passing away in 2010. Talk about the world caving in on us. I’m not exactly sure how we got through it but one thing is for sure; we are a tough and resilient group that always tries to do the right thing. We also have a lot of empathy for people going through tough times.
That experience bonded many of us together and I think that’s why there’s a core group who have been working together for roughly 20 years, through births and deaths and kids and everything in between.
As ICR grows we kind of see the business through the lens of 2008-2010. Let’s find clients we love to work with, who are great people and do whatever is humanly possible to help them achieve their goals. Let’s hire people who share our values. And when it comes to acquiring businesses, let’s find like-minded people who love what they do, love their people and want to build something unique and special.
In 2023, we uncovered another gem in Consilium Strategic Communications (now ICR Consilium) based in London, and this followed hot on the heels of the two other acquisitions this year: Bullfrog + Baum (US Consumer PR) and Lumina PR (US Technology PR).
ICR has grown consistently over the years and while the business was rooted in the U.S. with a small presence in Asia, we never had a foothold in Europe. Moving forward with ICR Consilium give us the “dots on the map” that make it clear we were a truly global organization. Very exciting. Flying over to meet MJ and Amber for the first time was a real treat. In addition to feeling just a bit more sophisticated walking the streets of London, we immediately felt welcome and part of the family. We knew right away that MJ and Amber shared our values and commitment to the team. Conversations always gravitated towards our people – how would they feel, would there be opportunity, would they feel part of something bigger with lots of potential?
In the subsequent months we made several trips to London, got to know the team better and became increasingly confident that Consilium could provide a foundation for our aspirations in the UK and Europe. They are great people and while our mutual mandate together is growing our healthcare business globally, I’m equally excited that my family and I now have trusted friends across the Atlantic to visit and get to know better on a personal level. At the end of the day that’s what it’s all about – having success but also building great relationships and doing interesting things along the way.
On a personal note, my father died in 1994 at age 60 and never got to see the birth of ICR or our rise within the industry. As I turn 60 next April, I can’t help but think that, as a small-town accountant, he’d be blown away by what we’ve accomplished – I just wish I could sit down with him and have a conversation about how it all happened. But everyone plays the hand their dealt and we can only hope my Dad and everyone’s loved ones that have passed away are looking down, proud of us.
I can only hope the next 25 years of ICR will be as fun and fulfilling as the first 25. It’s an honor to be team captain and the good news is there are amazing people in this organization that could ease into that role some day and perpetuate what has become a truly special and global team of renegades still set on changing the world.