UCL News


Spotlight on Vaseem Khan

11 August 2015

This week the spotlight is on Vaseem Khan, Business Development Director, UCL Security and Crime Science.

Vaseem Khan ... and crime author.

What is your role and what does it involve?

I spend my time tormenting and torturing academics, i.e. I 'manage' my brilliant academic colleagues on major research projects. Officially, I am the Business Development Director at UCL Security and Crime Science. The job has many facets, which keeps life interesting. Mainly it involves getting the boffins around a table to bid for large grants, then managing some of those projects to ensure we deliver what we promised we would, in budget and on time. I also try and teach our doctoral researchers the meaning of life - or at least how to work with industry and other members of the 'real world', which is the same thing. I am also the dept CCO - Chief Cake Officer.

How long have you been at UCL and what was your previous role?

I celebrated 10 years at UCL in June. Prior to that I spent 10 years in India working as a management consultant to a group that built environmentally-friendly hotels across the country - called ECOTELS. It was an amazing time and I got to see the subcontinent in all its glory as India began her march towards global superpowerdom.

What working achievement or initiative are you most proud of?

Seven years ago I bid for (with colleagues) a Doctoral Training Centre in Security Science - UCL SECReT - the first of its kind in Europe. Since then we have enrolled almost 100 PhD researchers. Our graduates - who have worked on an astonishing range of topics including landmine detection, airport scanners, sex trafficking, cybersecurity, terrorism and forensics - are finding stellar positions in the world of law enforcement and crime reduction. We are immensely proud of them!

Tell us about a project you are working on now that is top of your to-do list?

With summer here I will be on extended leave during which I must complete the third novel in my fiction series about the Baby Ganesh detective agency (see below).

When I get back to work my priority is the final year of the £3m 'What Works in Crime Reduction' project which I am currently managing. So if you want to know whether Neighbourhood Watch schemes or CCTV really work then check out our findings.

What is your favourite album, film and novel?

Albums: Humbug by the Arctic Monkeys; A Hard Day's Night by the Beatles.

Movie: Bladerunner.

Books: Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie; Dune by Frank Herbert.

What is your favourite joke (pre-watershed)?

Engineers like to solve problems. If there are no problems available, they will create their own problems.

Who would be your dream dinner guests?

Michael Connelly (crime author); Sachin Tendulkar (cricketer); Rachel Allen (TV chef). And Sauron from Lord of the Rings. I want to know why he's so angry all the time.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Invest in a ridiculous sounding company called Google. Then buy out an even sillier sounding company called Facebook. Then merge them into Foogle and rule the galaxy.

What would it surprise people to know about you?

That I write novels, specifically a light-hearted crime series set in India. The first in the series is released on 13 August by Hodder and is called The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra. It follows a very rigid and honest police officer in the Mumbai police service who is forced into early retirement and on his last day in office inherits a dead body and a baby elephant...

This is the first in a series about the Baby Ganesh detective agency and it has been really heart-warming to me how people have taken to the novel. I guess everyone loves baby elephants!

You can find out more on my website. Or, you can follow me on Twitter or on Facebook.

What is your favourite place?

The cricket pitch. I have been playing for 30 years and there's no better place to get some quality thinking done. Just remember to keep one eye open because a cricket ball in the nether regions is no laughing matter.