Spotlight on... Cassie Dawson

Cassie Dawson

Cassie Dawson

This week Cassie, a Consultancy Manager at UCL Consultants (UCLC) talks to us about her work connecting UCL’s academics to clients looking for the most up-to-date expertise to help solve their problems. She also reveals her enduring love for a Jim Carrey classic...

What is your role and what does it involve?

I work at UCL Consultants (UCLC) as a Consultancy Manager. My role involves being a first point of contact, both for staff at UCL who are interested in undertaking consultancy and for potential clients in the private and public sector who are looking for the expertise of UCL academics, often for the ultimate purpose of helping solve a problem!

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Primarily my own work is centred around managing and facilitating projects in the domains of the built environment and social policy. This generally means that I work most often with academics and departments within the Faculties of Engineering and MAPS.

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

I have been at UCLC for four years now. Before this I worked at another London university within their Enterprise team, supporting the Director and the senior management team in operational workings of the department.

What working achievement or initiative are you most proud of?

At present I’m really proud of the support I provide to the strong portfolio of work coming out of Department of Security and Crime Science (SCS). Lots of these projects explore society’s most serious issues and ensure that public bodies like the police and wider civil service have access to the latest research. This often involves monitoring government outlets for potential opportunities, supporting proposal development, building budgets and ensuring all the necessary paperwork is in place to take the pressure off the academics, so they can focus on the fun part of the technical work as much as possible!

I have also been promoted twice whilst at UCLC, so I’m pretty proud of that!

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

We recently secured a contract from BEIS for a really interesting project on behalf of Dr Ella Cockbain and Dr Krisztián Posch in SCS. It is a programme of commissioned research for the Office of Director of Labour Market Enforcement. They will be investigating and building upon current understanding of non-compliance and potentially illegal activity in the labour market and will help inform policy and practice in the UK.

It’s been fantastic to play a role in making this project happen and rewarding to be able to give advice to academics based on my previous experience in preparing bids. After months of work navigating procurement procedures and handling the contractual paperwork, I’m really looking forward to seeing how it unfolds!

What is your favourite album, film and novel?

I’m a real mixed bag when it comes to music, but constants would be any album by Deftones (White Pony, Saturday Night Wrist, Gore are highlights...) If I want a slap of nostalgia, then Hybrid Theory by Linkin Park (this started my journey into rock and metalfind me a better angsty album to sing along to, I’ll wait!) If I’m in a chill mood, then anything by electronic artist Tycho.

Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight never gets old for me. My favourite film from childhood is Dumb and Dumber, starring Jim Carrey. Such a goofy film but I must have seen it 100 times!

I’m sure you have heard it a lot, but ’I should make more time for reading’, especially non-fiction and academic. I do have friends with amazing recommendations who always give me books, enhancing my bookcase to the point guests think I’m very well read! I am slowly progressing through Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro which is considered a modern sci-fi classic.

What is your favourite joke (pre-watershed)?

Being honest, I don’t actually know any. Growing up in Northern Ireland, made me strictly a self-deprecating situational improv comedian. I refuse to pin myself to one defining joke... But put me in any scenario and I can laugh at myself with those around me!

Who would be your dream dinner guests?

I think I would prefer having all my friends and family in one place than any particular celebrity bunch. Although I’d definitely go for a pint and a game of pool with my granda and Sir Alex Ferguson.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Care a bit less about what people think of you. That sort of thought in too much abundance can be very self-limiting. Also, you don’t always need to have all the answers before you jump in. A little bit of measured risk is good for you.

What would it surprise people to know about you?

I talk a lot about football. Perhaps also that I’m doing a triathlon this summer. Before the pandemic I never ran, let alone cycled and swam (the proper front crawl way, at least). About a year ago I started throwing myself more seriously into a programme of exercise which has been life-changing, both physically and mentally.

What is your favourite place?  

Being in my grandparents’ house back in Antrim, Northern Ireland is something that has always brought me huge comfort. Beyond that, to date, I have to say that the Wester Ross area of Scottish Highlands has my heart... that place is so wild. I started going there on holiday in 2020 and have been three times since. Now I’ve truly got the bug for hiking and mountains!


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