SMD Senior Leadership Changes


SMD has announced several changes to its senior leadership team. These are part of a long-term plan as it prepares for the next stage of its development.

Mike Jones, who joined SMD in 1992 and has led the company as CEO since late 2017, moves to Chairman of SMD. He will focus on the strategic development of the SMD Group, as well as helping the new leadership team and chairing the Board.

Julian Zhu takes over as CEO. Julian has been a Director of SMD since 2015, and over the past 3½ years has led their innovation developments as Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer. Julian has responsibility for the SMD Group’s operations in both Newcastle and Shanghai.

Dr Paul Davison, who first joined SMD in 1994, and was most recently Managing Director for Equipment and Service, becomes Deputy CEO, Sales & Marketing. This carries responsibility for all front of house activities in sales, project management, service and marketing.

Sarah Lawson becomes Chief Operating Officer, from her previous role as Operations Director. Sarah has recently finished a secondment with the Government’s Vaccine Taskforce, using her strategic commercial skills in the roll out of the UK vaccine programme. Sarah now carries responsibility for all back of house activities in planning, procurement, engineering, logistics, production, and commissioning.

Richard Howarth has stepped down as CFO, but remains as an adviser while SMD recruits a new UK-based CFO. Richard has been with SMD since 1998 in various commercial, finance and customer support roles.

Chris Wilkinson is also stepping down as CTO, a role he has held since he joined SMD in 2014 and remains as an adviser during the transition to a new CTO early next year.

Mike Jones commented: “It’s a privilege to be asked to be Chairman of SMD, and I am pleased to see Julian, Paul and Sarah step up to their new roles in recognition of their achievements and service. I look forward to working with them as we embark on SMD’s next chapter. The past year has been very challenging for everyone dealing with the pandemic and market downturn. We have a great team in SMD, we are very resilient, and we have some great opportunities in front of us now. I want to thank Richard and Chris for their sterling service to SMD. They have both created great legacies and will always be friends to SMD.”

Julian Zhu commented: “I am honoured to take the baton from Mike. I will continue to drive SMD’s vision for success in subsea engineering and manufacturing for the global market. With the strong leadership team around me, I am confident we can grow the company value quickly through improved synergy and investment in new market portfolios supported by the dedicated, high performing team at SMD.”