Tom Sheahan ’87 has lived overseas and now calls San Francisco home. Regardless of where he lands, this globe-trekking Mustang will always call the Hilltop “home.”
“I truly cherish the friendships I made at SMU,” he says. “They have been a source of strength and humor through the trials and tribulations of life. SMU is more than just an outstanding academic institution – it is home for a lot of people.”
Sheahan is co-founder and CEO of Red Oxygen, which offers an array of communications solutions for mobile workforces. Despite frequent business travel, he stays involved with the San Francisco alumni chapter and serves on the leadership team. Most recently, he attended a party for accepted students in San Mateo, California.
He also makes time for volunteer opportunities. Sheahan’s company, which has headquarters in the city’s Mission District, participated in the one-day externship program offered through SMU Connection over winter break.
“I know how difficult it must be to understand the Silicon Valley mindset from Dallas,” he says. “I love helping young, motivated people out.”
Sheahan is now focused on a new arm of Red Oxygen – Octopi Network. Currently in beta stage operation, Octopi Network deploys multilayered security protocols to ensure privacy when sending and receiving messages across any platform. “We provide a secure digital environment that erases compatibility issues and allows users to reach anyone, on any device, anywhere in the world,” he says.
While attending SMU, Sheahan was active in the Student Senate and as a campus tour guide. He majored in communications studies with a focus on public relations and was a member of Alpha Tau Omega fraternity.
This is the Year of the Faculty at SMU, and as part of the celebration, alumni are encouraged to share memories of their favorite professors. Sheahan says English Professor Emeritus Marsh Terry ’53, ’54 stands out in his memory for “exposing me to some great authors.”
After graduating from SMU, he entered the telecommunications field, working in various sales and marketing positions in the United States and abroad before co-founding Red Oxygen in 2001.
Even in the unlikeliest places, membership in the SMU alumni community creates an advantage, he says, offering this anecdote:
“It was 1997, and I had just moved to Bondi Beach, outside of Sydney, Australia. I headed to this amazing outdoor pool for a swim, when I hear, ‘It will be two bucks, mate.’ I had no money with me, so I went back to my apartment and discovered that I was locked out. I returned to the pool, borrowed the phone and started calling locksmiths. ‘Where are you from,’ asked the guy working at the front desk in his thick Aussie accent. ‘Texas,’ I answered. ‘My brother went to school in Texas,’ he said. I asked which one, and he replied, ‘SMU.’ His brother was Gus Cameron. While Gus and I weren’t good friends, we had mutual friends. The guy at the desk, Hamish Cameron, and his family ended up being my surrogate family in Australia. I would not have had such a wonderful 10-year experience there without them, and it wouldn’t have happened without that SMU connection.”