Rovco Site Preparation Hero Img

Staff Profile: Graham Bell, Head of Geoscience

April 12, 2024 Time to read:  min

In the latest edition of our Meet the Team series, we introduce Graham Bell, Rovco’s Head of Geoscience. An avid history buff and keen surfer, Graham is an important part of Rovco’s senior team, bringing more than 20 years of global industry experience to his role.

We spoke to Graham to find out more about him, including his career history, what attracted him to join Rovco and his thoughts on the future of the marine survey industry.

Can you tell us a bit about what your role at Rovco involves?   

I am the Head of Geoscience for Rovco’s site characterisation business unit, and my responsibilities can be broken down into two areas. Firstly, I provide technical support and guidance to our team of geophysicists who are involved in interpreting and reporting on the geophysical data acquired from our vessels. At the same time, I support Rovco’s wider team with initial client engagement, attending conferences, and the supporting tendering team with proposals, ensuring we offer the most appropriate technical solution to our clients.

What is your career/educational background and how did it prepare you for working at Rovco?  

Even as a teenager, I knew I wanted to go into the offshore survey industry. After getting a distinction in a BTEC in Ocean Science at Falmouth Marine School, I went on to Bangor University in North Wales, where I studied for a BSc in Geological Oceanography.

I went straight from university into a role as a Graduate Geophysicist with a marine survey company called Thales Geosolutions, where I was involved with the interpretation of geophysical data.

I then spent several years with Fugro, working both on and offshore for the Abu Dhabi office, before heading to South-east Asia, where I spent six years working for Fugro in their Singapore office, again both on and offshore, and later joining EGS Indonesia as their Operations Geophysicist in their Jakarta office. The role of Operations Geophysicist required me to work offshore as a Party Chief, and onshore, interpreting, report writing and supervising geophysicists. I returned to the UK and rejoined Fugro in 2012 as a Geoscience Team Leader, in 2020 I was promoted to Geoscience Supervisor. In January 2023 I joined Rovco in my current position.

I have worked all over the world, in some locations more exotic than others, but I have been able to take the different experiences from my previous roles into my current position at Rovco.

What attracted you to come to work at Rovco?   

This role offered me the opportunity to build a team from scratch, to take my 20 years of experience and use that to help Rovco, and our sister company, Vaarst, look at new ways of doing things within the business of site characterisation.

It was an exciting opportunity, and a challenge that I couldn’t turn down, as opportunities like this don’t come along too often.

What do you enjoy most about your job? 

It might sound corny, but one of my favourite aspects is the people I work with. We are a growing company, made up of bright, motivated, and enthusiastic individuals who are all working towards the same goals.

Rovco can be quite a fast moving, dynamic and varied place to work. One minute I am assisting a geophysicist, the next I am supporting the business development team on a technical call with a prospective client.

Do you have any advice for someone interested in working in geoscience/the marine survey sector? 

I think that roles in the marine survey industry are extremely interesting and varied. If it’s something you think you could be interested in, I would strongly recommend pursuing. The way that the industry is heading now means that you don’t necessarily have to spend extended periods of time at sea, new technologies mean that there is a greater flexibility in how work is done.

Working in the survey industry is an opportunity to see parts of the world that a tourist wouldn’t normally see. Over my time in the industry, I have built up a global network of friends and colleagues.

You get to work with people from all walks of life, so a piece of advice that I would give is that you need to be someone who can get along with people from all cultures, backgrounds, and experience levels. You need to be able to work well in a team.

What do you see as the biggest challenges facing the industry today and how can Rovco help address these?  

Finding suitably qualified personnel is a tricky issue, there is a shortage of both trainees and experienced staff in all disciplines involved in marine site survey. I think one way to solve that issue is to look at the ways that technology can make certain aspects of our work more efficient so that less ‘people power’ is required for tasks that could be accomplished by machine learning and AI, for example. We wouldn’t want to remove humans completely from the equation, but there are areas where technology can be utilised to overcome resourcing issues and make our processes more efficient.

What changes have you seen in your time in the marine survey sector? And how do you think the industry will change in the next 5-10 years?   

I am going to sound like a dinosaur here! When I first started working in the industry, a lot of the interpretation work we were doing was by hand on paper records and paper charts.

Over time, there has been a massive increase in the use of technology and computers in the acquisition and interpretation of data. We are now at an interesting time where we will come to see an even greater adoption of technology, through artificial intelligence and automation.

So, now we need think about how the industry will find its feet using these tools in the most appropriate manner to drive efficiencies whilst maintaining the human input at the right level.

What do you like to do in your free time?     

I have quite a few hobbies. My main one is surfing, which is something I like to do at weekends, and after work, during the spring, and summer months, when the evenings are light enough to get in the water for an hour or so.

Other than that, I enjoy cliff-top walking, going to see live bands, and I am a bit of a history and archaeology fan, so I like reading books on history, and I enjoy exploring historical monuments and sites that are of archaeological interest.

What is your favourite movie?    

I am very much a self-professed Star Wars fan. It was such a phenomenon when I was younger, and I grew up with the films as they were released. Of all the films, my favourite is The Empire Strikes Back.

I don’t think it’s a controversial opinion that the original films are better than the prequels; The Phantom Menace was a bit too dull for me!

Connect with Graham on LinkedIn here.  

Subscribe to our newsletter

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.