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2019 Top 10 30-Something: Sadeq M. Khan

Top Ten 30 Somethings

Photo: Sadeq M. Khan with his Top 10 30-Something award at ACC's 2019 Corporate Counsel University.

A glimpse into Sadeq M. Khan’s background foreshadows his future success. As a teenage entrepreneur, he sold items on eBay. His business studies inevitably led him to business law, and he simultaneously earned his JD and MBA. After discovering the corporate counsel role, he pursued a straight to-in-house path, applying to ACC Greater Philadelphia’s Diversity Corporate Summer Internship Program, which placed him at Vertical Screen, Inc., a major applicant screening company.

Sadeq KhanRising from intern, to part-time employee, to associate general counsel and director of compliance, Khan, 30, is now Vertical Screen’s chief compliance officer and deputy general counsel. He pores over national and international legislation regarding consumer protection and data privacy, establishing himself as an expert in how laws like the US Fair Credit Reporting Act apply to the company and its clients.

Khan focuses on anticipating global data privacy trends and developments in international consumer reporting laws, ensuring the company is ahead of the compliance curve. One of his leading challenges was preparing Vertical Screen for the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) before it went into effect in May 2018.

Despite Vertical Screen being headquartered in the United States and primarily performing background checks, Khan knew that the company would be affected by GDPR: “We are essentially a data company because we process thousands and thousands of records when we do background checks. And we have a global footprint in the sense that we provide services internationally.

Khan engaged IT and other internal teams to review the company’s data protection and privacy measures. His team hired outside auditors to conduct readiness assessments. The process included making updates to their policies and agreements, communicating changes to vendors and clients, and ensuring that product rollouts were timely and compliant.

As a major compliance initiative for the company, Khan further spearheaded a project to update and establish a more formalized, cutting-edge record retention process. He observes, “Ten to twenty years ago, companies wanted to keep as much data as they could, for as long as they could. That mindset of keeping everything forever doesn’t work anymore because data breaches are such a real risk.”

In response, Khan led a record retention and archiving project to identify, review, reduce, and formalize the storage of data. As part of the initiative, Khan became certified in Records and Information Management (RIM) from ARMA, a professional records management association. He worked with stakeholders from IT, operations, and management to identify what information was being stored and which legal and regulatory requirements were applicable.

From this, the cross-functional team created a record retention policy that has resulted in revised agreements and workflows — all without disruption to clients or the business. The new policy has helped Vertical Screen reduce its record count and stay current with constantly evolving global data protection laws.

Khan has been a critical member of the Vertical Screen legal department. With his particular expertise in consumer reporting laws, compliance, and many other related legal disciplines, Khan has strengthened the depth of the legal team, which successfully handles a variety of legal and compliance matters.

Khan also serves on the ACC Greater Philadelphia board of directors. For the last three years, he has chaired the chapter’s Diversity Corporate Summer Internship Program — the same one that secured his internship with Vertical Screen years ago. “It got my foot in the door, and knowing what’s possible through the program, I had to get involved and grow it to give other students that same opportunity as well,” he says.

The program aims to foster interest in the in-house profession and increase diversity in legal departments. Under Khan’s leadership, the program has grown exponentially, with increased applicants and corporate participants, and expanded program elements like nonprofit legal clinics and volunteer work. The program was named “Best Diversity Initiative” by ACC in 2018. If his record of success is any indication, more accolades are forthcoming for Khan and Vertical Screen.

More 2019 Top 10 30-Somethings

Fernanda Beraldi

Brian Buckham

Thomas Cluderay

Lewis Dolezal

April A. Goff

William K. Piotrowski

Melissa Reiter

Alana C. St. Aude

Erin K. Stewart

About the Author

Danielle Maldonado is the editorial coordinator of the Association of Corporate Counsel.

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