Joe Watton

Joe Watton


I am a third-year PhD candidate at the University of Leeds, working within the Project Management Group in the School of Civil Engineering. My research project, funded by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), is on benchmarking cost reduction practice in nuclear and offshore oil & gas decommissioning projects. Regarding academic qualifications, I obtained a Distinction in my MSc in Engineering Project Management from the University of Leeds in 2020, and a 2:1 in my BEng (Hons) in Civil Engineering from Nottingham Trent University in 2019.

My industry experience includes a placement year in 2018 and a graduate summer placement in 2019, both with Jackson Civil Engineering, where he had a great many project-based responsibilities across a variety of civils construction works and completed several industry training courses. Thus I have a comprehensive theoretical and practical knowledge of infrastructure project management.

I have presented at numerous conferences, including EURAM 2022 and British Academy of Management (BAM) 2022. I have regularly taught on the Engineering Project Management 2022/23 MSc programme and the Introduction to Project Management module in 2022/23 Bachelor’s programmes, both at University of Leeds. I am the post-graduate researcher representative for the Cities, Infrastructure, and Energy (CIE) group at University of Leeds. I am a recipient of a Major Projects Association (MPA) long-term research grant, obtained in 2021.

Research interests

My current stage of the research project is on project practices, focusing specifically on how project team members actually “do” cost reduction. I have already conducted an integrative literature review to define, classify, and conceptualise infrastructure project cost drivers, which I am working towards publishing in a management journal. My current and subsequent research incorporates these cost drivers findings as a practically relevant lens to explore cost reduction, specifically through utilising interviews and observation. Aside from this current research as part of my PhD, I am also interested in the development of young project team members and how sexism and ageism play a factor in said development, having studied this topic for my MSc dissertation. I have experience in – and a preference for – qualitative methods.


  • MSc (Eng) in Engineering Project Management (2020)
  • BEng (Hons) in Civil Engineering (2019)