Malek was trained as a deck officer by Y-ARD of Glasgow and served on merchant ships for 11 years. He left the merchant navy to read for a BSc (Hons) in Maritime Technology at the University of Wales followed by PhD at the University of Exeter. He stayed on as a lecturer in Marine and Systems Dynamics at University of Exeter until he joined Southampton Solent University as Principal Lecturer in Maritime Technology, leading to Professor and Dean of the Maritime Faculty. He was then appointed as Professor Maritime Safety at the University of Portsmouth.

Malek has held various senior management positions in academia including INMARSAT Professor of Maritime Affairs World Maritime University (UN), President and Principal Australian Maritime College, Pro Vice-Chancellor University of Tasmania, President Raffles University, President Netherlands Maritime Institute of Technology, and Chief Executive South African International Maritime Institute.

His main area of interest is maritime safety which spans the whole spectrum of ship design and operation, in particular education and training and human factors. He has been the lead investigator on many Research Council and EC-funded projects and has published extensively in this area. He has supervised over 20 higher degrees and has acted as the external examiner for 28 higher degrees in the UK, Canada, Egypt, the Netherlands, Australia, and Sweden.

He is a Chartered Engineer an active member of professional institutions, a Fellow of the Nautical Institute, Fellow and Council member of the IMarEST. He is a member of the Marine Technical Committee of the International Federation of Automatic Control (IFAC) and the Founder of the Manoeuvring and Control of Marine Craft (MCMC) series of conferences now run by the IFAC, and deputy editor of the journal of Marine Science and Technology

He has in the past worked as a consultant to the Canadian Government, and the International Maritime Organisation. He is currently Head of Naval Education and Chair of the Academic Titles Committee at MLA College.