Some five years ago, Kelly was making a name for himself as the upstart US CEO of FD, a firm that had completed a successful management buyout from Cordiant, not least because of Kelly's determination to make it happen. Now FD, which was acquired by business consulting firm FTI in 2006, is again on the acquisition track, having announced its latest deal to purchase Ashton Partners. With Kelly directing operations, in a market where North American acquisitions are still relatively rare, more than a few smaller-agency CEOs will be taking his calls. Originally from Ireland, Kelly's roots are in journalism. His success in building FD has been based much less on his own individual work with clients than on his sheer determination to overhaul its reputation and flip it to a new, more appetizing parent. Kelly was brazen during the down market, plucking such luminaries as Hollis Rafkin-Sax, head of investor relations at Edelman, and Harlan Teller, former president of Hill & Knowlton's corporate practice.