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EXCLUSIVE: Behind the scenes with Nuix CEO

By Ashton Young
Wed 20 Apr 2016
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Eddie Sheehy is the CEO of Nuix, and has been since 2006 when the company was just a garage start-up. Nuix now has 1,500 customers in over 60 countries.

Born and educated in Ireland, Sheehy did a Bachelor degree in Commerce and a Masters in Finance at University College Cork.

“Fresh out of Uni, my first job was as a graduate recruit at Samuel Montague Merchant Bank in London,” Sheehy says. “I learned about investment banking, how good companies worked and how to buy them. Now more than 20 years on, I’ve almost exclusively worked for and managed finance, technology and legal technology companies.”

When asked how ‘he’ has gotten to where he is today and the secret to ‘his’ success, Sheehy talks only using ‘we’ and ‘our’, acknowledging the efforts of some “incredibly talented and dedicated people”.

“We spent years in research and development; the developers didn’t want to go to market until our product was perfect,” Sheehy says. “It’s easy to say in hindsight it was all worth it, but I can assure you there were many sleepless nights worrying we might not pull it off.”

Sheehy affirms the whole idea of Nuix came from a University developer who was trying to figure out ways to simplify email - ever since, they haven’t stopped trying to figure out ways of doing things differently.

“This culture of problem solving is the reason we’re trusted to work with the UN, the US Secret Service, Interpol and the Department of Defence – and many others,” Sheehy says. “Our success comes from our product delivering on its promise and doing what it says on the box.”

Investigation, cybersecurity, insider threats, litigation, regulation, privacy, risk management and many other business challenges all have one thing in common – they all require an understanding of large and complex data sets, and that’s where Nuix specialises.

“The Nuix Engine is our patented data processing platform, and it underpins all our software,” Sheehy says. “It has one-of-a-kind parallel processing and analytics capabilities that allow businesses to index, search and analyse huge volumes of unstructured and semi-structured data much faster than other technologies.”

A topical example is Nuix’s pro bono work with the Panama Papers investigation. The German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) used their technology to process, search and analyse the 11.5 million documents leaked from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca.

“What’s interesting about the Panama Papers is that most people view it as a huge amount of data,” Sheehy says. “Certainly in investigative journalism terms it’s probably the largest leak ever recorded. However, 2.6 terabytes is a small or medium-sized data set in the litigation and regulatory investigation cases that many of our customers deal with every day.”

In terms of the cybersecurity industry at the moment, Sheehy says it is a constantly changing beast, with the bad guys definitely becoming more aggressive and innovative in their tactics.

“I believe the Australian technology industry is punching well above its weight,” Sheehy says. “I think the Federal Government’s upcoming Cyber Security Strategy will be a welcome change to the way we tackle the whole issue. More and more businesses locally and globally will stop paying lip-service to security and actually make it a priority.”

Sheehy admits that he loves his job – he wouldn’t be there 10 years later if he didn’t – and he enjoys his time away from work too.

“The rest of the time I’m very busy being a father to three beautiful kids and spending as much time as I can out on the water sailing or watching the rugby,” he says.

All I can say is that must take some serious skill Eddie, keep up the juggling.

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