School of Built Environment, Engineering and Computing

UK Public Sector Driving the Construction Industry Towards Innovation

Prior to commencing his PhD, Ali worked within one of Dubai’s largest companies and held managerial positions at major projects including Hilton Dubai, Marriott Palm and Taj Exotica Resort & Spa in the Palm Jumairah, the world’s largest man-built island. Ali was awarded his master’s degree in Construction Management and was recognised with the Best MSc Student Award 2018. Ali has also been awarded the BREEAM Approved Graduate certificate and Chartered Management Institute level 7 certificates.

Student Ali outside wearing a face mask, there is snow on the ground

Tell us a bit about yourself and your path into the PhD in Civil Engineering

Upon the completion of my master’s degree in the UK, I sensed the power of research and its impact in driving change across vast social systems. Since then I’ve worked to develop my writing and research skills to prepare a proposal that subsequently enabled me to be accepted at LBU. This marked a huge milestone in my academic journey and shifted my focus from challenges at project levels to ones at global levels. The construction industry is a rich and diverse sector that has vast interconnectivity between major disciplines. However, compared to other industries, construction lags behind where innovation is concerned, due to its nature of being reluctant and resistant to change. Construction could be made easier, faster, more sustainable, and much more reliable with existing practices that have proven effective and credible. I am privileged to dedicate a few years of my life to join an amazing research community at one of the UK’s biggest Universities. I endeavour to contribute to paving the road for a better, resilient, and a more innovative construction sector.

What is your research about and what makes you passionate about it?

With the help and support of YORhub, a leading procurement framework provider in the Yorkshire and Humber region, I am researching how existing project procurement frameworks must change to enable more effective diffusion of MMC, and investigating the role of public clients in driving such innovation through understanding their procurement strategies and extracting potential limitations inhibiting or influencing the diffusion of innovation. The public sector has the capability to drive and inspire clients and suppliers to be more engaged in procuring and providing MMC projects. This should enable public clients and MMC suppliers to extract more value from MMC due to its wider adoption and deployment. To achieve this, I’ll be extracting the functions adoptable by the supply side that can influence the demand side’s decision in favour of the modern methods. I’ll be also looking at the limitations within the demand side, often inhibiting innovation and how innovative changes within public procurement strategies alongside business model enhancements can address and minimise those limitations to achieve increased adoption.

Why did you choose Leeds Beckett University?

Based in the remarkable city of Leeds, Leeds Beckett University is a large and well-connected university in the United Kingdom. The team, in particular the School of Built Environment, Engineering and Computing, have staff of vast professional and academic experiences from all over the world, creating an impressive educational environment. Being in the heart of Yorkshire, the region is witnessing vital acceptance of innovation in major development activities and in particular is embracing the modern methods of construction represented by the extensive existence of modern methods of construction (MMC) suppliers, acting as a solid starting point for the whole UK’s construction transformation. I am forever grateful to have joined an amazing university, strategically located to meet my research needs and that never hesitates to provide all the necessary support to ensure that my studies are directed towards results of the best possible outcome.

How have you applied what you’ve learned from your work at School of Built Environment, Engineering and Computing?

Being a PhD student at Leeds Beckett University, I have vital access to vast educational resources and regular training lectures and webinars. The application process was straight forward and required a well-structured research proposal that enabled the university to ensure my interests align with those of the supervisory team being allocated. This alignment has resulted in me having both my Director of Studies and Supervisor perfectly suited to my studies, which subsequently is resulting in a smooth and convenient academic journey. Upon applying, I was introduced to a great research admissions team who directed me step by step to ensure a satisfactory application, that would meet the School’s requirements.

What has been your favourite experience at Leeds Beckett? / How would you reflect on your time as a postgraduate researcher at Leeds Beckett?

So far, my experience at Leeds Beckett has been simply spectacular. Despite the current COVID situation, the university has provided a smooth and effective learning process to its students, especially those at postgraduate level. I am getting regular follow-ups from the University to check that I am a) doing fine in my studies, b) have no disruption to my progress, and c) that all the help and support I may require is being promptly provided. Upon our return in September, I am keen to go on to campus to maximise my university experience through meeting my colleagues and sharing construction knowledge and experience.