Pat Ryan (executive)

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Pat Ryan
Pat Ryan, October 2016
Pat Ryan, October 2016
Patrick G. Ryan

1936/1937 (age 81–82)[1]
ResidenceWinnetka, Illinois, US
Alma materNorthwestern University
OccupationFounder, chairman, and CEO, Ryan Specialty Group
Known forFounder and former chairman and CEO, Aon Corporation
Net worthUS $ 2.6 billion
(January 2018)[1]
Spouse(s)Shirley Ryan

Patrick G. Ryan (born 1937/38) is an American billionaire insurance businessman. He is the founder and retired chairman and CEO of Aon Corporation.[2][3] In 2010, he founded Ryan Specialty Group (RSG) as a holding company aimed at providing specialty services to insurance brokers, agents and carriers. RSG's first subsidiary, ThinkRisk, began business in December 2009 to provide underwriting and claims management services for media, technology, advertising and network security.[4][5]

Ryan was the chairman and CEO of the Chicago 2016 Olympic bid committee and is chairman of World Sport Chicago, an organization that formed out of Chicago's Olympic bid.[5][6]

Ryan is a philanthropist in Chicago. He is married to Shirley Welsh Ryan, with whom he runs the Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Foundation.[7] He is also a benefactor of the Art Institute of Chicago Building's modern wing addition.[8]

Ryan is a member and former chairman of the board of trustees at Northwestern University, where both major athletic facilities, Welsh-Ryan Arena and Ryan Field, are named after him. Ryan owns a large minority interest in the Chicago Bears.[5][9][10][11]

Early life[edit]

Ryan is the son of an Irish-American father who ran a Ford dealership in suburban Milwaukee.[10] Ryan spent his summers shoveling concrete to help build Milwaukee's freeway system.[12][13] He graduated with a bachelor's degree from Northwestern University's School of Business (now Kellogg School of Management) in 1959 with a degree in Finance and Literature.[1][12][14] During his senior year, Ryan earned $8,000 selling personalized scrapbooks to dorm residents, an experience that "kindled his entrepreneurial spirit".[13]


Ryan in 2008

After graduating from Northwestern University, Ryan immediately joined Penn Mutual's Chicago office as a life insurance agent.[13] In 1962, Ryan founded the first Finance and Insurance (F&I) department at Dick Fencl Chevrolet in suburban Chicago, selling insurance products on behalf of Continental Casualty Company, now the primary subsidiary of CNA Financial. This move "forever changed how auto dealerships operate" and in 1964, Ryan founded Pat Ryan & Associates, a brokerage and underwriting agency.[10][12][13] At Pat Ryan & Associates, a rigorous training program was developed to train licensed agents and place them in auto dealerships.

This business model was successful for Pat Ryan & Associates, and by 1968, the firm was selling $15 million in premiums a year.[13] Ryan borrowed money to buy a dormant insurance company, enabling him to underwrite the products his company was selling. This move transformed Pat Ryan & Associates into a nationwide business, and in 1971, with $25 million in annual sales, he took the firm public. The stock offering helped raise capital to meet Ryan's long term goal: "diversification from a single line of insurance to multiple insurance products".[13]

In 1976, Ryan changed the firm's name to Ryan Insurance Group and in 1977, he bought the retail brokerage units from Esmark Inc, "expanding into risk management services for commercial and industrial clients".[15][16][17] In 1981, Ryan further expanded by purchasing the James S. Kemper agencies.[13]

In 1982, Ryan Insurance Group merged with Combined International, and Ryan became CEO.[11] The company continued to expand through organic growth and acquisitions, and in 1987, Ryan changed Combined's name to Aon Corporation.[5] He served as the company's chairman and CEO for 41 years. At Ryan's retirement in 2008, Aon operated with more than 500 offices in 120 countries generating revenues in excess of $7 billion.[16] Aon is the largest reinsurance broker and 2nd largest insurance broker in the world, and a leader in risk management and human capital consulting.[17][18][19]

In 2010, Ryan formed Ryan Specialty Group (RSG), a global specialty insurance holding company with offices in North America and Europe.[5][20] RSG's wholesale operation, RT Specialty, is the 3rd largest wholesale broker in the US.[21] To date, there are 16 underwriting facilities within RSG Underwriting Managers (RSGUM).[22]

In 2018, Ryan Fieldhouse was unveiled.[23][24]

Alma mater[edit]

Ryan has been a member of Northwestern University's board of trustees for 37 years, 14 of which he was chairman.[5][25] In 2009, Ryan was inducted into the Northwestern Athletic Hall of Fame.[26] That year, Northwestern also awarded Ryan an honorary doctorate.[27] In 2013, he received the Northwestern Alumni Association Medal of Honor, their highest award, given to alumni who combines superior professional distinction and/or exemplary volunteer service to society, with an outstanding record of service to Northwestern.[5][28][29]

Pat Ryan and his wife, Shirley Welsh Ryan, have been donors for many of Northwestern University's facilities and programs, both academic and athletic. Over the years, the couple has supported Northwestern University by funding fellowships for graduate students in nanotechnology and scholarships for low-income students, contributing to the Feinberg School of Medicine's priorities, and endowing chairs.[30][31] The music and communications building, which opened in 2015, was named after the Ryans for their longtime support of the arts at Northwestern.[32] Ryan is a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity.[33][34]

Awards and honors[edit]

Ryan has received a number of awards and honors throughout his career. These include, among others:

  • Horatio Alger Award (1987) – honors those who are dedicated to the principles of integrity, hard work, perseverance and compassion for others.[5][13]
  • Academy of Arts and Sciences Inductee (2008) – one of the nation's oldest and most prestigious honorary societies and independent research centers, founded in 1780.[5][35][36]
  • International Insurance Society Hall of Fame (2008)[5][17]
  • College of Insurance – Insurance Leader of the Year (1997)
  • Order of Lincoln Medallion (1998) – the highest award granted by the State of Illinois, recognizing a lifetime of accomplishment.[5][37]
  • The Insurance Federation of New York – Free Enterprise Award (1999)
  • Brigham Young University – International Executive of the Year for Corporate Integrity (2002)[13]
  • Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award (2008)
  • Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame (2016)[38]

In 2004, Ryan hosted President George W. Bush during a political fundraising dinner at his home in Winnetka, Illinois. Later that year, he hosted another fundraiser with Bush's wife and daughters as guests.[39] In November 2008, Ryan was named one of five co-chairs for Barack Obama's inaugural committee.[40] Ryan, being a Republican, was chosen to reflect a bipartisan committee.

Personal life[edit]

He is married to Shirley Ryan. They live in the Chicago area and have three children.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d "Patrick Ryan". Forbes. Retrieved November 16, 2016.
  2. ^ Merrion, Paul (April 19, 2007). "COO, CFO being recruited for Olympic bid". ChicagoBusiness. Crain Communications, Inc. Retrieved April 21, 2007.
  3. ^ Bansal, Paritosh (March 18, 2008). "UPDATE 1-Aon Chairman, founder Patrick Ryan to retire". Reuters UK. Thomson Reuters. Retrieved November 27, 2008.
  4. ^ "Pat Ryan going back to insurance, starting firm". Chicago Breaking News. February 9, 2010. Retrieved May 28, 2010.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Global Insurance Leader and Entrepreneur, Patrick G. Ryan, Launches New Business - Ryan Specialty Group". PR Newswire Association LLC. February 9, 2010. Retrieved May 28, 2010.
  6. ^ "World Sport Chicago Names Patrick G. Ryan Chairman of the Board of Directors". Retrieved November 18, 2016.
  7. ^ "Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Foundation: Chicago Grants". Inside Philanthropy. Retrieved November 17, 2016.
  8. ^ "Latest News". The Art Institute of Chicago. 2007. Retrieved June 26, 2007.
  9. ^ "CHICAGO BEARS". American City Business Journals, Inc. 2007. Archived from the original on May 1, 2007. Retrieved September 1, 2007.
  10. ^ a b c "Hall of Fame – 2014: Pat Ryan". Irish America. Retrieved November 16, 2016.
  11. ^ a b "Patrick Ryan". Forbes. Retrieved November 18, 2016.
  12. ^ a b c Beene, Ryan (March 21, 2008). "F&I pioneer Pat Ryan to retire from Aon". Automotive News. Retrieved November 16, 2016.
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Member Profile – Horatio Alger Association". Retrieved November 18, 2016.
  14. ^ "Northwestern Alumni Association - Patrick G. Ryan and Shirley Welsh Ryan". Retrieved November 18, 2016.
  15. ^ "Globe Life pact (April 6, 1977)". Retrieved November 17, 2016.
  16. ^ a b "Aon Founder Ryan to Retire Aug. 1". Insurance Journal. March 20, 2008. Retrieved November 17, 2016.
  17. ^ a b c "Insurance Hall of Fame Laureate Profile". Retrieved November 21, 2016.
  18. ^ "World Rankings". III. Retrieved November 21, 2016.
  19. ^ plc, Aon. "Patrick G. Ryan Announces Intention to Retire from Aon - Mar 19, 2008". Retrieved November 21, 2016.
  20. ^ "Home – Ryan Specialty Group". Ryan Specialty Group. Retrieved November 21, 2016.
  21. ^ "2015 Business Insurance Broker Rankings | Business Insurance". Retrieved November 21, 2016.
  22. ^ "RSGUM – Ryan Specialty Group". Ryan Specialty Group. Retrieved November 21, 2016.
  23. ^ Ryan, Shannon (April 5, 2018). "Northwestern unveils new Ryan Fieldhouse athletics facility". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
  24. ^ Perkins and Will (October 16, 2018). "Northwestern University Ryan Fieldhouse and Walter Athletics Center". Architect. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
  25. ^ Lingle, Clara. "Bienen, Ryan honored for their work at Northwestern". The Daily Northwestern. Retrieved November 17, 2016.
  26. ^ "Northwestern Announces Five-Member Hall of Fame Class of 2012". Northwestern University. Retrieved November 17, 2016.
  27. ^ "Bienen, Ryan and Five Others to Receive Honorary Degrees: Northwestern University News". Retrieved November 17, 2016.
  28. ^ "Northwestern Alumni Association - Alumni Awards". Retrieved November 17, 2016.
  29. ^ "Past Alumni Award Winners" (PDF). Northwestern Alumni Association. Retrieved November 17, 2016.
  30. ^ "Patrick G. And Shirley W. Ryan Hall: Northwestern Magazine - Northwestern University". Retrieved November 17, 2016.
  31. ^ "Ryans Increase Campaign Giving to $100 Million - Northwestern Now". Retrieved November 17, 2016.
  32. ^ "Music And Communication Building To Be Named For Patrick And Shirley Ryan - Northwestern Now". Retrieved November 17, 2016.
  33. ^ Spector, Matt (May 28, 2009). "Ryan made NU 'better in every way'". The Daily Northwestern. Retrieved March 7, 2019.
  34. ^ "Alumni". Sigma Chi at Northwestern University. Retrieved March 7, 2019.
  35. ^ "Alphabetical Index of Active Members" (PDF). Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved November 18, 2016.
  36. ^ "About the Academy - American Academy of Arts & Sciences". Retrieved November 18, 2016.
  37. ^ "Laureates Alphabetically - The Lincoln Academy of Illinois". The Lincoln Academy of Illinois. Retrieved November 18, 2016.
  38. ^ "Hall of Fame". Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame. Retrieved November 18, 2016.
  39. ^ Hoffmania!: Bush Just Leaves a Trail of Destruction Archived September 29, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  40. ^ Seelye, Katharine (November 25, 2008). "Obama to Limit Inaugural Donations". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved November 25, 2008.