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.

Julian Lovell


Director of SMA with 25+ years' experience in geotechnical investigations on a range of projects. Julian spent 18 years at Soil Mechanics starting as a geologist within their consultancy division, Soil Mechanics Associates, and working on the Sellafield deep repository investigations. He was responsible for developing the SW, Midlands and Scottish regional offices and all SM national contracts on the rail infrastructure ending up as Associate Director. Julian sits on the AGS Executive Committee, is past Chairman of the AGS Safety Committee, sits on the BDA Safety Technical and Standards Committee and is UK representative for the revision of BS EN ISO 22475.

+44 (0)7799 146966


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.

Richard Betts

Associate, Commercial Manager

SMA Associate, Geologist and Commercial Manager with almost 30 years' experience in the UK oil and gas and geotechnical and ground investigation sector. Richard's experience ranges from on site management of ground investigation projects, detailed technical output, development of procurement and pricing strategies, regional office management, establishment of business development strategies for a number of leading ground investigation contractors as well as large multi-national, multi-disciplinary engineering consultancies.


David Martin

Associate, 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


+44 (0)7799 260228


Ian Kerr

Depot Manager & Lead Driller (BDA Audited)

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 extensive 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 second to none. Now overseeing SMA's depot and managing our drilling fleet, Ian is also a BDA Audited 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 (BDA Audited)


+44 (0)7841 396456


Paul Stanesby

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


Daniel Rae

Drilling Support Operative

Dan is relatively new to the geotechnical industry however has an extremely bright future ahead. During his first year in the industry he has excelled, acting as a Drilling Support Operative on both rotary and dynamic sampling rigs on mulitiple HS2 sites, as well as the recent M4 extension. Following these experiences, Dan is now equally comfortable working with both rotary and dynamic sampling drilling disciplines. Dan is currently working towards his NVQ Level 2 for Land Drilling as a Drilling Support Operative.


Harley Ward

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 is currently working towards 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.