Interview: PADI Course Director Zoona Naseem

Zoona Naseem is only the second Maldivian to have attained the rank of PADI Course Director, and the country’s first female to do so. She is the owner of Moodhu Bulhaa Dive Centre in Villingili Island, just 10 minutes away from the capital, and is passionate about getting young people diving. Here she shares her PADI journey, discusses what it’s like to be at the top of a male-dominated industry, and advises instructors on the best way to become a CD.

 What inspired you to become a PADI Pro?

I spent the first few years of my life in a small island in Noonu Atoll in the north of the Maldives, so I was always in the ocean as a child. I learnt how to swim at the same time I learnt how to walk. When I did my first dive at 17, honestly, I found it so easy that I thought to myself ‘Why isn’t everyone doing this? And why are there no female instructors?’ I think I knew after that first dive that I was going to become a PADI Pro.

How do you think you’ve changed as you’ve moved up the ranks to become a PADI Course Director?

I did my IDC when I was 18, straight after leaving school, so I’ve been a PADI Pro for my entire adult life. One of my first jobs was at a resort called Sun Island Resort & Spa and the dive centre was one of the busiest in the country at that time. It was like a dive factory! I got to teach every day and I really developed my skills as a teacher. Of course, later I learnt managerial skills as a dive centre manager but it’s my teaching skills that I am continually improving as I move up the ranks.

What will it mean to the Maldives to have its first female Course Director?

In the Maldives, there are still very few women working in the tourism industry, and I feel that this is down to a lot of lingering misconceptions about resorts amongst Maldivians. But in reality, resorts are fantastic places to work for women. You get exposed to so many different cultures, you save everything you earn and there are lots of opportunities for travel and training. So I think that with a female PADI Course Director working in the country, I can show people what a fantastic industry we are a part of, and what you can achieve as a PADI instructor. My greatest hope is that more women will follow my example, and I have set a personal goal to have two female Maldivian instructors working in my dive centre.

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement in your diving career?

Becoming a Course Director. It was a long journey to get here, and I didn’t really even believe it was possible until recently. Nobody ever told me that this was an option for me! So it definitely feels like a big achievement. And my other greatest achievement, the thing that gives me great happiness, is seeing so many of my students now owning their own dive centres. They are leaders in the Maldivian dive industry, and I’m extremely proud of them.

What does diving give you that nothing else does?

On a personal level, when I’m diving, I get a sense of peace and happiness that I can’t find out of the water. There’s nothing in the world like diving. But as a diver, I also have the chance to be an advocate for our environment, to be a marine ambassador, and that’s a privilege.

Did you have to overcome any fears, challenges or obstacles to get where you are now in your diving career?

When I was working for Banyan Tree International, I was managing five dive centres, plus five water sports centres – so it was a real challenge. And at first, managing all those male employees proved a little tricky. They found it hard to accept a local female as their leader, but I didn’t give up! With a little patience and perseverance, the team soon saw that I knew what I was doing.

Do you believe PADI instructors change others’ lives through diving?

For sure! When you take someone underwater for the first time, they will always remember you. One of my strongest memories was of taking a blind student diving. He simply wanted to experience how it felt to be underwater; to be weightless. We have the chance to create amazing experiences for people, and to educate them about our fragile underwater ecosystems.

Describe in a few sentences how you would convince a non-diver to learn to dive?

Well in the Maldives, it’s pretty easy to convince people, because the best of this country is underwater. There’s not a boring second when you’re diving, and it’s extremely safe. Actually, being underwater is much safer than walking in the busy roads of our capital city!

PADI Course Director Zoona Naseem

What does “Be Best. Be PADI” mean to you?

 It’s simple. PADI is the best diving organisation in the world; there is no comparison. PADI changes lives!

What would you say to other PADI Instructors hoping to become PADI Course Directors?

 I would always encourage instructors to keep moving ahead, and to explore opportunities to increase their training, knowledge and experience. I tell everyone that becoming a PADI Course Director is an option open to them, you just have to work towards it.

What did you enjoy most about completing the PADI Course Director training?

The trainers were without doubt the best part of the course. Their presentations were so entertaining and creative that I honestly never lost focus. And just getting the chance to meet these incredible divers from all over the world and to work on group assignments with them was so enjoyable.

And lastly, what’s your favourite dive site in the Maldives?

Oh, that’s a hard question but I think I’ve got to say Embudu Express, which is a channel that we often visit with our dive centre. There can be dozens of sharks, huge schools of eagle rays, and abundant fish life. But every dive is different, and it depends on how you dive!

 

Women’s Dive Day Video Contest Winners

PADI® Members in 85 countries hosted a record 884 events in celebration of the third annual PADI Women’s Dive Day on 15 July 2017. Since the inaugural event in 2015, PADI has seen widespread adoption and support of its Women In Diving initiative. This year proved no different as PADI Members from across the world submitted their wonderfully creative Women’s Dive Day videos for the global contest.

All the videos have now been reviewed and 10 stand out videos have been chosen. Winners were selected based on inspiration, quality of footage, originality and/or best overall depiction of the event.

From the EMEA region, the winners are:

diveOceanus Royal Island 

Olgiata Diving 

Sophyline Phay Vals

The winners will receive their 2018 membership renewal fee and 25 sets of Women’s Dive Day giveaways for the 4th Annual PADI Women’s Dive Day is July 21st, 2018!

PADI Women’s Dive Day 2017 garnered more than 90 million media impressions worldwide and reached millions of people via social media, increasing awareness and excitement for diving across a wide audience. Mark your calendars for 2018 and help grow the diving community!

PADI Women’s Dive Day in Egypt

On Behalf of PADI EMEA, I would like to THANK all PADI Dive Resorts and PADI Professionals in Egypt who participated in the 2017 PADI Women’s Dive Day.

Aim of the event is to convert a “male-dominated” diving industry into a more modern and up-to-date one, where women should make up half of all certifications!

Here some examples on how PADI Diving Resorts in Egypt helped in achieving the goal:

Blue Ocean                                                                                                                      Organized a ladies only day diving followed by an evening party with live music and fire show.

Circle Divers                                                                                                            Organized two ladies only dives from the shore with a special lunch break in a picturesque location followed by an evening BBQ at the diving center.Dive Point Red Sea                                          Divers United (Elite Diving)                     Organized a ladies full day diving                       Organized a “Safari dress up day!”              from the boat (with an intruder).                          The theme was 60’s flower power!            

Euro-Divers                                                                                                                   Organized two ladies only dives from the shore enriched by a welcome drink before the dives, special lunch break and cake party afterwards.

H2O Divers                                                                                                                        Organized a ladies only clean up dive followed by BBQ at night.

Idive Diving Centers                                                                                                    Organized a ladies only DSD Day.

Panorama Divers                                                                                                               Organized a ladies only full day diving garnished by delicious food on the boat and live entertainment. Here above, participants performing “Women Dive Day” underwater choreography!

Pharaoh Dive Club                                                                                                            Organized a ladies only reef/beach clean up as well as invited local Egyptian ladies to try snorkeling and/or diving.

Wonderful Dive                                                                                                      Organized (in cooperation with the hotel) several activities including: shore diving, DSDs, snorkeling trip and raffle.

This was a great day for everyone to help strengthen and grow the female dive community, attract new women to the sports of scuba diving and freediving, and motivate existing female divers to get back in the water and continue their dive training!

Take part in the third annual PADI Women’s Dive Day on Saturday, 15 July 2017

For the past two years, divers from every corner of the globe have come together for PADI Women’s Dive Day to bond over their love of the ocean and a passion for diving. This growing tradition will continue on 15 July 2017, further strengthening and supporting the female dive community through a day of fun, adventure and camaraderie.

PADI Dive Centers and Resorts hosted more than 700 events in 77 countries last year for the second annual PADI Women’s Dive Day on 16 July 2016. Since the 2015 inaugural event, the celebration has continued to gain momentum as new and experienced divers gear up for everything from high tea on the high seas to shark dives and underwater cleanups. As a result, PADI female certifications increased noticeably in both 2015 and 2016, narrowing the gender gap in diving.

This was possible thanks to the enthusiasm and participation from PADI Members around the world who got behind this initiative. Let’s do it again, only bigger. More new divers. More ambassadors for the underwater world.

Participate in PADI Women’s Dive Day 2017 to strengthen and grow the female dive community, attract new women to the sports of scuba diving and freediving, and motivate existing female divers to get back in the water and continue their dive training.

Start planning your 2017 PADI Women’s Dive Day event on 15 July 2017 using these simple steps.

1. Decide what type of event to host. The type of event to host is completely up to you! Whether you conduct PADI Women’s Dive Day themed courses, have a family-oriented open day, host fun dives or even a girls’ night out with your divers, only your imagination limits your event.

2. PADI Retail and Resort Members, register your event on the PADI Women’s Dive Day Event Locator. By registering your event, your dive center/resort will be included on the Event Locator at padi.com/women-dive.  To register your event, ensure you are logged into the Pros’ Site with your PADI Dive Center or Resort account (not an Individual Member account), go to ‘My Account’ page of the PADI Pros’ Site, and click on ‘Register your Women’s Dive Day event(s)’. Follow the on-screen instructions to quickly and easily add your event.

3. PADI Professionals hosting an event not affiliated with a dive center/resort are encouraged to share their event information with their regional PADI office (PADI Americas: womendive@padi.com; PADI Asia Pacific: marketing@padi.com.au; PADI EMEA: marketing.emea@padi.com).

4. Promote your event. Use different platforms to help get the word out about your event – email, social media, advertisements (print, online and in-store), and event calendars. Visit the PADI Pros’ Site Women in Diving page to download customizable PADI Women’s Dive Day marketing materials. Tag your Twitter posts with #padiwomen to have your news shared in the Twitter Feed on padi.com/women-dive.

5. Post Event Follow-Up. Follow up with all your PADI Women’s Dive Day event participants afterward. A simple “thanks for being with us” keeps divers engaged and encourages them to continue diving with you. Don’t forget to include links, telephone and a call to action. And be sure your success stories and photos with the marketing team at your PADI Regional Headquarters! Tag event photos that you post on social media with #padiwomen to feed into PADI’s social channels.

PADI Retail and Resort Members: Register your 2017 PADI Women’s Dive Day event now!