Senior Management

We believe that in order to offer the highest quality services, you need access to leading industry experts. We prides ourselves on being able to bring together some of the most respected figures within the geotechnical industry.

For us, this process starts with our Senior Management. The Board and Senior Management team have unrivalled experience within the drilling and ground investigation sector and have a hands on approach to ensure our Client's projects receive the highest level of engagement from the earliest stage.

Colin Benjamin


Director of SMA with 40+ years' experience as a driller, drilling manager and project manager with considerable experience of the UK ground investigation industry. Colin has comprehensive experience of all types of drilling activity and has worked with leading suppliers and contractors to advance the art of high quality coring. He has been instrumental in raising the quality and safety standards of drilling and is considered to be one of the UK's experts in rotary drilling, specialist testing and instrumentation.

+44 (0)7836 310225


Jonti Hobday


Director of SMA and Managing Director and joint owner of PR Marriott Drilling Limited, with executive responsibility for operations, marketing, financial management and business development for European and international operations for the Marriott Drilling Group managed out of the United Kingdom including activities in the EU, Africa and the Middle East. Jonti is experienced with all types of drilling rigs and associated equipment and has previous experience of many coring projects for infrastructure projects and coal.

John Beswick


SMA Associate and Director of PR Marriott Group and previously Director of Soil Mechanics Limited (Mowlem Group) the leading geotechnical specialist at that time in the UK responsible for offices in the UK, Ireland, Australia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Hong Kong, Philippines and the UAE. John was also Project Manager for the UK national programme for the geological and hydrogeological investigations for deep mined resources and the associated access spiral railway tunnels for high-level radioactive waste at Sellafield and Dounreay. Advisor on tunnelling projects for the Mowlem Group. He has also been involved in deep large diameter blind shafts for mine access, ventilation and deep disposal of radioactive waste.


Our Management team is a hand-picked group of experts from within the ground investigation, drilling civil engineering and geotechnical engineering sectors. The team has a complementary set of skills which are unrivalled in the cross-sector ground investigation drilling and testing sectors.

The team all have professional qualifications within their fields of expertise. Key members hold IOSH Safe Supervision of Geotechnical Sites and CSCS cards appropriate to their work activity.

David Martin

Health and Safety Manager

Marriott Group Health and Safety Manager and qualified Health, Safety and Quality practitioner with significant experience in heavy industry, mining, iron and steel industry and the oil and gas industry. David is a Chartered Member of IOSH and an approved health and safety trainer. He is responsible for the maintenance of the LRQA OHSAS 18001:2007, ISO 14001 and 9001 accreditation. Experience includes auditing, risk management, safety training, developing safe systems of work together with health monitoring and measurement.

Dan Hill

Contracts Manager

As a drilling professional Dan has 13 years' experience of geotechnical and mineral exploration projects at every level, from hands-on technical, through project management to senior management level. He has worked within, and managed, multicultural teams across the globe from West Africa to the Caribbean, from the Caucasus to the Middle East, relishing the challenge of bridging cultural differences to achieve project targets. Previously employed as the Operations Manager for Fugro in Qatar, and Drilling Manager for Fugro GeoServices in the UK, Dan has extensive experience of managing people and processes to efficiently deliver high quality Geotechnical projects for our clients.

+44 (0)7799 260228


Ian Kerr

Depot Manager & Lead Driller
NVQ Level 2 - Lead Driller

Ian has worked in the geotechnical industry for a number of years, both on-site as a Lead Driller and in office based roles. With experience that ranges from domestic geotechnical projects such as HS2 and the M4 extension to international work in Sierra Leone, Georgia and the Republic of Congo, Ian's knowledge of geotechnical practices is extensive. Now overseeing SMA's depot and managing our drilling fleet, Ian is also an NVQ Level 2 qualified Lead Driller for Rotary and Dynamic Sampling ground investigations.

+44 (0)7794 751992


Site Operatives

Our Lead Drillers all have a minimum of 10 years' experience in the Land Drilling sector including ground investigation, geothermal, water well and sub-sea drilling. They also hold IOSH Safe Supervision of Geotechnical Sites certification and hold Emergency First Aid at Work and IOSH Avoiding Danger from Underground Services certifcation.

A number of Lead Drillers also hold A1 NVQ Assessor and/or LEEA qualifications which allows in-house assessment and training to the required standards to meet occupational competence and legislative requirements.

All Support Operatives either hold Level 2 NVQ Diploma Land Drilling – Drilling Support Operative or are registered and working towards their qualification.

Jeremy Joyce

Lead Driller
NVQ Level 2 - Lead Driller

Jeremy has worked in the drilling industry for approximately 10 years and has worked on various high profile projects in the UK and overseas. He is familiar with a wide range of drilling techniques having worked in both exploration and geotechnical sectorsusing the following: Open holing and DTH, conventional and wireline, geothermal loop installations, water wells, lugeon testing and pressuremeter work. Jeremy has an NVQ Level 2 qualification as a Lead Driller.

+44 (0)7841 396456


Paul Stanesby

Lead Driller
NVQ Level 2 - Lead Driller

Paul has worked within the drilling industry for the past 31 years, operating many different rigs throughout this time and has achieved NVQ Level 2 in Land Drilling as a Lead Driller. Paul has an extensive and diverse knowledge of drilling operations from mobilising the rig, maintaining the rig and equipment, keeping detailed borehole logs and building an effective working relationship with Clients. In addition to Paul's extensive knowledge, he also has experience in working all over the UK and on several different projects internationally, as well as projects involving ROV subsea drilling systems.

+44 (0)7817 267099


Brian Gee

Lead Driller
NVQ Level 2 - Lead Driller

Brian has worked within the drilling industry for only 10 years, however has in that time accumulated an extensive and broad knowledge and exceptional skillset as a Lead Driller. Brian is renowned for his passion for delivering a quality service, with excellent time management and interpersonal skills complimenting his ability as a Lead Driller for which he is Level 2 NVQ qualified. He has also worked on a number of different projects across the UK using a variety of drilling methods including continuous flyte auger sampling, hollow stem augering for installations, wire line coring (NQ, HQ, PQ), sonic sampling, rotary coring (DTH and tricone rock bit) and open holing (DTH, rock rollers and drag bits).


Harley Ward

Drilling Support Operative
NVQ Level 2 - Drilling Support Operative

Harley is making his first ventures into the world of geotechnical engineering with S M Associates. Keen to learn and develop his skills as a geotechncial technician, an infectuous enthusiasm is seeing Harley making a great start to life on-site. Having gained qualifications as a groundsman and greenkeeper, it is safe to say that Harley is at home outdoors. Harley has recently achieved his NVQ Level 2 for Land Drilling as a Drilling Support Operative.


Joshua Thompson

Drilling Support Operative
NVQ Level 2 - Drilling Support Operative

Joshua has a background in automotive vehicle body repair and maintenance and S M Associates is his first exposure to the world of geotechnical engineering. With a desire to develop and succeed as an on-site geotechncial operative, Joshua has made a great impact at SMA. With qualifications in welding, automotive body repair and a counterbalance forklift licence, Joshua is at home getting his hands dirty. He has also obtained his NVQ Level 2 for Land Drilling as a Drilling Support Operative.


Kieron Blackwell

Drilling Support Operative

Another on-site operative with a background in greenkeeping, Kieron is making his first strides into the geotechnical industry with S M Associates. A former motorcross rider, Kieron is at home in the wet and muddy outdoors - ideal for this line of work! He is an extremely fast-learner and is already making a great impression on other drilling staff at SMA. Kieron is also well on his way to achieving his NVQ Level 2 for Land Drilling as a Drilling Support Operative.


Get in touch

No matter how big or small your project, we offer unrivalled levels of quality. From our project management through to our sampling techniques – we can provide dynamic solutions to all of your most pressing Ground Investigation needs.