October 17, 2011

Q & A with Conall Ryan, Publishing Veteran


“What keeps me coming back to Corey is the individual brilliance of the players, the depth and breadth of skills sets in the company, and the consistently excellent quality of your work”. Conall Ryan

Conall Ryan has worked with Corey throughout his illustrious career in publishing, awarding the Corey team with challenging interactive projects for Houghton Mifflin, McGraw Hill and Reader’s Digest.

1. How long have you been working with Corey?

Since 1994, when I took a job with Houghton Mifflin to start a digital publishing imprint.

2. We’ve been privileged to do work with you throughout your career for clients like Houghton Mifflin, McGraw-Hill, Reader’s Digest, and other enterprises. What has been your favorite project with us? Why?

I don’t have a favorite project. For me, it’s always the next one. What keeps me coming back to Corey is the individual brilliance of the players, the depth and breadth of skills sets in the company, and the consistently excellent quality of your work. Let me put it in chamber music terms. When I’m putting together a new software product, I’ve got to assemble a team to perform the Content, Design, and Engineering parts. Corey plays Design extremely well, but you also understand the other parts at a deep level. For me, software development is like chamber music in that it’s more about listening than playing. You’ve got to listen together, navigate complex passages to make them comprehensible and pleasing to an audience, and know when to breathe. Doing it extremely well requires trust and spontaneity. The kind of chamber music that reaches your heart is the result of great collaboration and camaraderie. The same is true of great design. Corey is so much more than just a design shop. It’s a collection of intellectually curious and passionately focused pros. You don’t get the serious chops that you guys have without practicing a lot of scales. But what I most admire is your ability to take on complex and largely unwritten “scores” and help turn them into something simple, elegant, and durable.

3. Given our history together, you’ve witnessed Corey’s evolution. What has most impressed you?

Corey has preserved and enhanced its core values over the last several years while also managing to become a more nimble and energetic company. You’ve broadened your services to keep up with the changes in brand management, social media, and mobility. You keep a pulse on the markets, not just your current batch of projects. I also like the international cast of characters, which keeps things fresh, flexible, and diverse. Interesting people tend to do interesting work! Corey turns people loose and lets the best ideas win.

4. What do you do for fun?

At the risk of sounding like I have too much of it, which is certainly not the case, I enjoy playing music, reading, writing, sports, spicy food, traveling, fishing, poker, dancing with my wife (she’s great; I stink), and following the exploits of our very large family. Any day that I learn something new is a fun day.

5. What is your favorite brand and why?

Apple, because it’s the brand that touches me – physically and emotionally – the most every day and empowers me with music, knowledge, memories, communication, creativity, and portability. It’s a fragile brand because it was forged with the determination and taste of Steve Jobs. Apple means designing a beautiful motherboard that no one except the geeks that rip the device apart is ever going to see, and saying no a thousand times until you ferret out the simplicity of a single yes, of never settling for less than insanely great. It’ll be interesting to see if Apple maintains those high standards now that Steve is gone. We’ll know soon if they only say no nine-hundred-and-ninety-nine times, or nine-hundred-and-ninety-eight..

6. What is your dream job?

Building a 21st century publishing company that would give voice to important new works of art and make the people who have taught me proud.

Check out pictures of a past project Corey worked on with Conall Ryan for Reader’s Digest, RDEnglish, an intensive and immersive e-learning tool.

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