Thomas Harrison is Chairman Emeritus of Diversified Agency Services (DAS), the world’s largest group of marketing services companies. A division of the Omnicom Group, DAS provides a broad range of marketing communications services including public relations, crisis management, branding, sales promotion, customer relationship management and specialty communications including health care advertising. With over 5000 worldwide clients, the DAS division under Harrison had annual revenues of over $6.0 billion and was the largest business unit within Omnicom. Diversified Agency Services is the world’s largest holding company of specialty marketing agencies.
Under Harrison’s watch, the DAS division more than quadrupled in size and now accounts for over 50% of the total revenues of Omnicom. He acquired and lead a list of companies that are the most influential in their disciplines particularly in public relations, relationship marketing, branding, healthcare communications and digital communications. He developed not only the largest and most innovative and relevant group of specialized agencies, but the most diverse as well.
Harrison’s multi-faceted career brought him to Omnicom in 1992 when the firm he co-founded, Harrison & Star Business Group, the most successful and rapidly growing agency in the healthcare industry at the time, was acquired. Harrison served as Chairman of the Harrison & Star Group and Chairman of Diversified Healthcare Communications, a group of eight healthcare agencies within Omnicom, until his appointment as President of DAS in 1997. He was named Chairman and Chief Executive of DAS in 1998.
With an advanced degree in cell biology and physiology, Harrison began his business career at Pfizer Laboratories as a professional sales representative and later left Pfizer as marketing director. He then joined a mid-sized healthcare advertising agency for six years before starting his own company, The Harrison & Star Business Group. While at the helm he started two healthcare advertising agencies, a medical education company, a direct-to-consumer healthcare company and a medical PR group as well as acquiring a managed care consultancy.
Harrison serves on a number of prestigious boards. He is a member of the Executive Committee of the Montefiore Health System, has served as a Fellow of the New York Academy of Medicine, and Governor of the New York Academy of Sciences where he served on the Sackler Global Nutrition Committee, a long-time passion of Harrison’s. He previously served as a board member of the New York Chapter of the Arthritis Foundation. Harrison was a board member for ePocrates, a publicly traded healthcare information company, until its 2013 acquisition and The Morgans Hotel Group from 2006-2013. Harrison became partner and board member of Dipexium Pharmaceuticals in 2011 and served until its acquisition in 2017. From 2013-2017, he served as a board member of rVue, a digital out-of-home media company. Harrison was appointed to the board of Social Growth Technologies until its acquisition in 2016. In 2014, Harrison was appointed to the board of Fifth Street Asset Management where he serves as Lead Independent Director and Chairman of the audit committee. In 2015, Harrison was appointed to the board of directors of Zynerba Pharmaceuticals where he is Chair, Nominations and Corporate Governance Committee and member, Compensation Committee. Harrison was recently appointed to the board of directors of Madison Logic, a global leader in B-to-B strategic marketing. He was President of a local Westchester County School Board and Chairman and Founder of the not-for-profit education foundation in that Westchester School District. He served as co-chairman of the New York Chapter of the U.S. Olympic Committee and raised substantial funding to support U.S. Olympic Athletes. Harrison is a recent recipient of the prestigious Ellis Island Medal of Honor. He has been honored by Long Island College Hospital, The Children’s Hospital at Montefiore, The Lymphoma Research Foundation, New York City’s Health and Hospital Corporation, Mt. St. Vincent’s College, the New York Academy of Medicine, and the New York Arthritis Foundation, each for his philanthropic work. A frequent speaker at business forums and at universities across the U.S. on the subject of entrepreneurialism, Harrison lectures on business strategies, the “Success Promoters” and corporate leadership in the economic upturn. He has spoken at West Virginia University where he did his graduate research and where Harrison was recognized with the 2006 Distinguished Alumni Award and where Harrison received an Honorary Doctorate in 2007, the highest honor an American University grants to an individual. He was keynote speaker at The McGraw Hill Medical Publishers Annual Awards program, at a Management Conference of Healthcare Communications specialists, at a Direct Marketing Association Non-Profit Federation Summit, at the Utah Technology Council Annual Members Board Meeting and has talked to agency CEO’s at an advertising industry forum about the future of advertising agencies, marketing services and ideation. Harrison is the architect of the successful, insight-generating Imagine Sessions that have supported, launched and turned-around brand’s performance in many industries.
Harrison is the author of INSTINCT Tapping Your Entrepreneurial DNA to Achieve Your Business Goals published by Warner Business Books and now in its Third Edition available digitally on NOOK. Harrison has appeared on CNBC, CNNI, Bloomberg and Forbes.com discussing his book. He can be found on the Enterprise Leadership podcast as well as Forbes, Bloomberg, recently on American Management Association and other podcasts. Harrison also lectures at Business Schools and Schools of Entrepreneurialism on topics discussed in INSTINCT.
Harrison was a member of the New York University Campaign Steering Committee, is past Chairman of the Dean’s Council at The Steinhardt School of Education at NYU and was Trustee at The Kent School, a New England Preparatory School.