Ryan is the founder and chief executive of Bright Blue, an independent think tank for liberal conservatism. Ryan was previously a research fellow for another think tank – the Social Market Foundation. Before 2010, he was a researcher for Rt Hon David Willetts MP when he was shadow education secretary, where he authored the Conservative Party’s 'Childhood Review', and an adviser to the Conservative Party on families and education.
Ryan is a Visiting Fellow at King’s College London. He is a trustee for the Early Intervention Foundation, and the Young Women’s Trust. He sits on the advisory council of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), and the University of Bath Institute for Policy Research. He is also a mentor for the Social Mobility Foundation, and a governor of a new secondary school in East London.