Pro Diaries: Interview with PADI Course Director, Ulf Mayer (by Christian Hubo)

 Author: Christan Hubo – Feel4Nature

As a PADI Course Director Ulf has already reached the highest career level of a PADI Instructor. In this interview Christian Hubo finds out about the typical day of a diving professional.

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1. When did you start diving and why?

I started in the 90s. I was on holiday in Egypt and tired of hanging around on the beach and in the hotels. Suddenly someone asked “Would you like to do a try dive in the pool?“

So we did a very nice try dive, and I started my PADI Open Water Diver course the next day. For me it was the beginning of a new passion: from that day on every holiday was a dive trip. I started to dive in Germany and did a lot more training – up to the Divemaster course. As a PADI Divemaster I started to help out in a local dive shop and it was there that the idea of becoming an instructor was born.

2. Did you think about turning scuba diving into a career from the beginning?

No. But after my very first open water dive I was brainstorming with my girlfriend about how we could combine diving with our jobs. We were not even considering becoming instructors –we were just impressed by this incredible experience. In those days I worked as a strategic planner in an advertising agency and she was a trainer for communication skills. In fact we were thinking about things I offer today: a combination of team training on one hand and diving topics on the other.

3. Why did you decide to open your own diving school in Essen and how did you find the experience?

To be honest, I never set out to open a dive center in Essen. It just happened. All I wanted was to dive and to get away from my former job as a manager in the advertising industry. And suddenly from nowhere we had our own dive center, and guess what: it was a successful operation! We became a PADI Five Star facility in the shortest possible period of time and we had hundreds of students to teach to scuba dive.

If you were to ask if I would do it again… I don’t think so. Too much retail, too many competitors, not so much good diving. Essen is perfect for running IDCs. We have an airport nearby and course logistics are great. But In my opinion diving is a lifestyle – and to live that kind of lifestyle in a dive center somewhere in the middle of Germany is not an easy thing to do. I only know a very few people who can… my friend Frank from “Franks Dive Center“ in Mülheim is such a diving enthusiast.

4. Why did you decide to go to Thailand and open a Dive Center there?

Well… the original plan was to go to Tanzania and help build the “Beach Crab Resort“. The visa stamp was already in my passport and we’d already celebrated our farewell party with friends. But then I got a phone call from a friend of mine in Thailand saying that the former PADI AP Regional Manager, Rick Ray, was looking for staff for a brand new dive center in a high class resort on a wonderful Island of Phuket – Koh Racha Yai.

I already had strong links to Thailand; I’d worked there as an IDC Staff Instructor for a couple of months every year. So it took only a few emails – and three weeks after the first call I was on a plane to Bangkok.Looking back it was the right decision: years later I saw on a TV documentary that they still had no electricity in the resort in Tanzania – I do not think that this place would be the right place for me.

The dive center on Koh Racha Yai was the dream of every dive professional: top location, top dive sites, very good customer base from all over the world – everything your heart desires.

But, on the 26th December 2004 the Tsunami destroyed everything: the hotel, the dive center – even the dive site in front. But life goes on. I had to restart, and opened a new dive center on the island of Phuket. And there I got the great opportunity to work with some very good Course Directors and learned a lot about teaching other instructors and the dive business. Finally I went to Kota Kinabalu and became a Course Director myself.

5. How was your time in Thailand as a dive center owner? 

You get a different view on a country and its people once you live and work there. The typical friendly and positive attitude the Thais have towards tourists changes a lot once you are an expat and you sometimes have to deal with a level of bureaucracy. On the other hand I met beautiful people there and had a chance to experience real friendship – even after the Tsunami when everything was a mess. We had to fight for our living and had a lot of relief projects to work with as well. We rebuilt dive spots as well as helping fishermen to rebuild their villages and lives.

Looking back I was really lucky to work in a wonderful country, with a lot of wonderful people in an almost perfect surrounding for diving. In the end it was a lifetime experience I will always remember!

6. Over the years youve stayed loyal to PADI as your organization. What do you like about PADI and what do you think could be different?

In every IDC I tell my candidates that PADI stands for “Professional Association…“ not for “Perfect Association…“. Nobody is perfect. But I think PADI is quite close!

In fact for a student diver the certification agency doesn`t play a role at all. For the student, the instructor, their attitude and their teaching skills is what matters the most. But for a professional things are different. A professional needs an organisation with top support and with an outstanding educational system.

PADI is still the leading organisation in the dive industry – and in all those years I couldn`t see anything better for me.

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7. As a PADI Course Director youve trained many instructors in recent years. Do you believe that you really can still make money in an instructors job?

I believe that you can make money with everything you really love to do.

But as a dive instructor you need more than good training and a professional attitude: You have to be ready to go to where the customers are! If you try to make your living as a PADI Instructor somewhere inland far away from attractive dive sites and a good infrastructure for divers you will face a lot of problems.

And of course you need to stay up to date. If you don’t know anything about the trends and news in the industry you will not be seen as a real professional.

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8. Many divers dream to travel the world as an instructor with the cliché “work where others are on vacation” – do you think that is realistic and achievable? 

Absolutely! But you have to be aware that the focus is on “work“ not on “holiday“. If you keep that in mind then there are many options for a PADI Instructor to work in the most beautiful places on earth.

9. What are the requirements for a diver who wants to become an instructor?

The most important thing is a passion for diving and for teaching. If you do not love to share your knowledge you won´t be a good instructor. I think a good instructor should inspire their students as well. And of course they need a solid knowledge and skills on a high level and should understand and respect the PADI Standards.

I know there is a lot of discussion about the prerequisites for becoming a PADI Instructor. 100 dives is not what we call “very experienced“. But people should not forget that these are minimum standards. And I do not think that it is the number of dives that counts.

My average candidate has about 200 dives. Most of them have a profession and working experiences and they want a twist in their lives or at least in their diving. I try to help them to achieve this!

I always tell them that following a successful IE the work starts: the new instructors have to learn how teaching and professional diving really works. I always recommend team teaching. That gives them a chance to get into the job and learn from more experienced instructors.

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10. You’ve probably stayed in contact with your IDC candidates how many would you guess work permanently in the diving industry, or even work as instructors abroad?

There’s actually many of my former candidate working as instructor, dive center manager, dive center owner or tour guides all over the globe. They are in Mexico, Thailand, Egypt, Maldives, Bali, Curacao, Gozo, Mallorca, Crete – they teach on the AIDA and run dive centers in Spain and in Germany.

I would estimate that about 30–40% of all my candidates do earn their living as a dive professional. For the rest, being a PADI Pro is a nice hobby.

11. Do you have any tips on financing – are there any possibilities of grants?

Yes. But it depends on the specific situation of the candidate. There are so many options – from money from the EU to local support funds – I can help to find a solution for almost everybody. In Germany, “dive instructor” is officially seen as a profession and so candidates can use a lot of support programs to help finance their IDC. But as I said before: it depends on the specific situation as to which program to choose and how much money someone can get.

12. Are you also still diving recreationally, or is instructing enough for you?

I still love diving. And I try to dive frequently. Right now I am very enthusiastic about several aspects of technical diving – I love to learn and experience new things and cross the borders.

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13. Do you have a favourite destination for scuba diving and what was your best experience underwater?

I don’t have a single favourite! I just came back from Spain where I did some very nice dives in the Mediterranean Sea, and the Sipadan or the Similan Islands are awesome.

But sometimes, a dive in the Ruhr river close to the place where I live can also be amazing. You can find artefacts from world war two or remains from criminal activities like weapons, empty cases and so on there. Really exciting.

When I am not on an IDC or doing other courses I enjoy every dive. Even if there is nothing special to encounter – I still love it.


Ulf teaches his IDC (Instructor Development Course) in Essen; he is a successful PADI dive instructor having gained experience with his own diving schools in Germany and Thailand.

Christian also completed his IDC to become an instructor and further training to IDC Staff Instructor with Ulf Mayer and since then has regularly stayed in touch and completed one or two projects together, too.

You can find out more about Ulf Mayer via his website.

7 new PADI Instructors from Four Seasons Resort Maldives, Kuda Huraa

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PADI Europe, Middle East and Africa is delighted to welcome 7 new PADI Instructors to the world’s most sought-after community of diving professionals.

The Instructor Development Course (IDC) and Instructor Examination (IE) were both conducted at the Four Seasons Resort Maldives in Kuda Huraa on 15/16th November 2014.

 “It was the first IDC / IE conducted at Four Seasons at Kuda Huraa and all the 7 participants have passed and all had a very good time” – Ibrahim Nazeer, Dive and Recreation Manager, Four Seasons Resort Maldives.

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Are you ready to join the ranks of the dedicated professionals who teach the world’s most progressive and popular scuba diver education programs? Then Go PRO with the PADI Instructor Development Course.

About the PADI Instructor Development Course (IDC) & Instructor Examination (IE) 

The Instructor Development Course (IDC) is made up of two parts – the Assistant Instructor (AI) course and the Open Water Scuba Instructor (OWSI) program, and teaches you to conduct all PADI core courses. You’ll learn how to better organize and present information, conduct skill development sessions and control open water dives. You’ll become a more confident public speaker and will perfect your demonstration of skills whilst watching out for student diver safety.

Most dive professionals complete the full IDC and go on to attend an Instructor Examination (IE), which is the final step to earn a PADI Instructor certification. The IE is a two-day evaluative program that tests an instructor candidate’s teaching ability, dive theory knowledge, skill level, understanding of the PADI System, and attitude and professionalism.

Teaching scuba diving allows you to share your love of the aquatic world with others while doing what you enjoy – being in, around and underwater. PADI Instructors are the most sought-after dive professionals around the world because they’ve completed the program that sets the standard for training dive professionals. You earn a PADI Instructor rating through hard work and commitment, but you’re rewarded with a job that lets you share incredible underwater adventures with others – transforming their lives for the better and enriching yours.

For more details on signing up for the IDC, or for more information on prerequisites and course content, please ask your local PADI 5* IDC Center or visit the PADI Course Catalogue.

ReActivate

ReActivateA PADI® Worldwide survey of nearly 400,000 PADI divers shows that 97% of inactive divers intend to return to diving. We know that this number hasn’t followed through in the past, so this is a massive opportunity gap that hitherto has been missed.  PADI’s new ReActivate™ program presents a fantastic means to close that gap by providing a quick, convenient and prescriptive way to brush up divers’ knowledge and skills, backed up with a proactive and targeted marketing campaign.

The new PADI ReActivate programme is a revolutionary benefit you enjoy as a PADI Professional because it gives you a credible tool for tapping into a huge potential market. It’s strategically different than anything anyone in the dive industry has ever offered before. With ReActivate, we show inactive divers how to return to diving and we develop innovative ways they can keep diving, even when “life” gets in the way.

Reaching these divers has challenges. They don’t frequently read dive magazines or visit dive-related websites. It requires communication beyond normal dive media. PADI will use its resources to do this in a proactive and significant way. As you may expect, PADI will be marketing ReActivate within and beyond dive media to wake up and engage inactive divers.

To hear more, join a dedicated webinar on Tuesday, 9 September 2014 at 7pm UK time for a special edition of Training Bulletin Live! To learn all about the PADI ReActivate program. This one-hour webinar will touch on the integration of the new ReActivate program, standards and procedures changes, the innovative materials available for this program and much more!

For those unable to attend the live webinar on 9 September 2014, a recorded version of the PADI ReActivate webinar will be posted to the BOD Webinar page located under the Pro Development tab of the PADI Pros’ Site. In addition to the recorded webinar, you can also reference the Special Edition Training Bulletin featuring the PADI ReActivate program along with the new ReActivate Instructor Guide, the related PADI Guide to Teaching segment and Frequently Asked Questions posted on the Pros’ Site (translations to follow shortly). We will also be releasing translated webinars shortly thereafter, so watch out for information on these. ReActivate Blog Graphic

PADI at DEMA Show 2014

DEMA14_header_600x150b (3)Register for PADI Programs at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino (formerly known as the Las Vegas Hilton)

Course Director Update 2015 Tuesday, 18 November 2014 7:30 AM – 12:30 PM PST

This year’s Course Director Update will feature breakout sessions structured to emphasize interaction and engagement with colleagues and PADI staff. Learn and share cutting-edge pro training techniques in these sessions, which provide a valuable platform for discussing Instructor Development topics critical to a successful 2015. Renewed, teaching status Course Directors qualify to attend this half-day program. Topics include:

  • New course offerings and materials, along with practical tips on updating pro programs and keeping candidates current.
  • Risk management topics, including a control technique workshop.
  • “Back to Basics” Instructor Development marketing, focused on effective database use, email marketing, customer service and secret shopper test cases.
  • Evaluation training workshop showcasing the revised PADI Open Water Diver Prescriptive Lesson Guides.

Don’t miss the PADI Frequent Trainer Program award ceremony recognizing PADI Platinum Course Directors.

Contact Yvonne Lara at 800 729 7234 (US and Canada only), +1 949 858 7234, ext. 2296 to register.

Emergency First Response® Instructor Trainer Thursday, 20 November 2014 8:00 AM – 1:00 PM PST

This half-day program is open to Emergency First Response Instructors who have completed the preparatory online component and conducted at least five Emergency First Response courses or issued at least 25 Emergency First Response course completion cards. This program includes access to online presentations, an Emergency First Response Instructor Trainer Manual (digital version) Emergency First Response Instructor Course Lesson Guides, Emergency First Response Instructor Course exam booklet and the Instructor Trainer application fee. Please bring a current or updated Emergency First Response Instructor Manual.

To register for the program, contact Yvonne Lara at 800 729 7234 (US and Canada only), +1 949 858 7234, ext. 2296.

IDC Staff Instructor Update Friday, 21 November 2014 8:00 AM – 12:00 PM PST

NB: This program will be held at: City of Las Vegas Municipal Pool 431 E. Bonanza Rd. Las Vegas, Nevada, USA 89101

Join PADI staff for an inwater clinic focused on conducting and evaluating PADI Open Water Diver course skills in a confined water setting, with particular attention to course revisions influencing Instructor Development. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn from and network with the PADI Course Director Training Course staff, which helps develop and revise PADI materials and evaluation criteria. *NOTE: Please bring mask, snorkel, fins, wet suit, and the current Confined Water Presentation Evaluation Slate (product no. 60575).

To register for the program, contact Yvonne Lara at 800 729 7234 (US and Canada only), +1 949 858 7234, ext. 2296.


EVE Training

Keeping up to date with changes in technology and programs designed to help a business become more profitable and efficient is important for PADI Dive Center or Resort owners. Don’t miss out on the great opportunities the latest version of EVE offers.

EVE – What’s New in EVE 5.9? Wednesday, November 19, 2014 from 8:00 AM to 10:00 AM (AST)

  • Language options – run EVE in Spanish, for example, as well as English. You can mix and match depending on what’s best for you, your staff and your customers.
  • Windows 8 Tablet platforms – run EVE on your tablet devices.
  • Display and user interface options – touch screen advances and more user-specific customization.
  • PIC Online integration – with the new PIC Online platform.
  • Resort features – pickups, boat manifests, course roles, trip roles, staff activities.

Click here to Register

EVE – Would you like more divers to train with you? Wednesday, November 19, 2014 from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM (AST)

Creating a course schedule, assigning instructors to scheduled classes, booking customers on to those classes and certifying divers automatically through PIC Online – all this can be done through EVE. Learn how EVE can automatically segment divers by certification level, by equipment ownership and by recorded interest, so you can target the right divers at the right time with the right continuing education program that meets their needs and keeps them coming back.

Click here to Register

EVE – EVE Agent…your best employee Thursday, November 20, 2014 from 8:00 AM to 10:30 AM (AST)

Learn how the EVE Agent works full time, in the background, targeting customers with automated messages based on their activity. Inquiry follow-ups, course marketing promotions, continuing education marketing, and service reminders—all targeted precisely and delivered automatically via online newsletter systems with social media integration. EVE Agent sends specific and relevant messages to each customer, at the right time, increasing marketing success and keeping customers happy and doing business with you. Sign up for a hands-on guide to setting up these emails and newsletters using PADI’s email templates and integrating with MailChimp.

Click here to Register 

EVE – Are you getting the most from your website? Thursday, November 20, 2014 from 10:30 AM to 12:00 PM (AST)

Your online presence should project your dive center or resort to the entire web community – advertising, promoting and selling classes, trips and equipment to customers both current and new. Learn how to use EVE to:

  • Expand your sales territory to the largest possible customer base.
  • Integrate with the EVE Calendar.
  • Link to your EVE Online store (complete with a personal, user friendly, content management system) and include blogs and social media feeds.

In real time, learn how to set up and manage your website. You’re in control of your online presence.

Click here to Register

EVE – Is Driving up Equipment Sales your goal? Friday, November 21, 2014 from 8:00 AM to 10:00 AM (AST)

Sales drive business. See how to make sales, create packages, sell courses and manage inventory with EVE. What’s more, EVE can use that sale as a unique chance to promote continuing education. Every PADI course can generate equipment and travel sales. In turn, those sales encourage the sale of the next PADI course. Learn how using EVE’s sales packaging, program marketing, customer relationship management and continuing education follow-up tools can substantially enhance sales revenue.

Click here to Register

EVE – Joining the dots together with EVE… an integrated approach to your dive business. Friday, November 21, 2014 from 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM (AST)

Think about how many stores, perhaps even yours, manage their day-to-day business:

  • Point-of-sale system
  • CRM (marketing) system
  • Website
  • Online store
  • Calendar and schedule

Ask yourself if any or all of that information has to be entered, updated, tracked, monitored and managed with separate systems. Then consider the advantages if one system was at the heart of all of those functions. When using the EVE suite of services in combination, discover the:

  • Savings in time.
  • Resulting savings in money.
  • Increase in accuracy.
  • Improvement in customer service.
  • Increased marketing efficiency and results.

Click here to Register

EVE – What’s working for you? Friday, November 21, 2014 from 11:00 AM to 12:00 PM (AST)

Which of your profit centers has the highest revenue? Which day of the week is your key sales day? What’s the value of the inventory you carry? How many PADI Open Water Divers did you certify last year? And how many went on to Advanced Open Water? Financial and business analysis is at the heart of your success as a store owner. Come and discover how EVE’s reporting and analysis tools can lead you to the right business decisions.

Click here to Register

Book your room before 31 August to be entered to win the PADI Social VIP experience!

PADI Travel Network has secured a room rate of just $95 US per night (plus tax) at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino for DEMA Show 2014. Put yourself at the center of the action and take advantage of the conveniently located PADI programs in the hotel’s convention center, close proximity to the Las Vegas Convention Center South Hall and the PADI Social shuttle pick up location. Plus, if you book your room through PADI Travel Network by 31 August 2014* you will be entered to win one of three VIP upgrades, compliments of PADI Travel Network. Don’t delay, contact PADI Travel Network at 800 736 7021 (US and Canada), +1 949 858 7234, ext. 2555 to reserve your room space today.

*Book your DEMA Show hotel room with PADI Travel Network between 1 July and 31 August 2014 and you’ll be entered to win one of three VIP booths reserved for you and five of your friends at the PADI Social. One of the three VIP booth winners will also be upgraded to a suite. The winner of the suite upgrade must hold a reservation for at least four nights at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino booked through PADI Travel Network to qualify for the upgrade. Winners will be chosen at random and announced no later than 15 September 2014. Reservations must have been taken between 7:00 AM PDT on 1 July 2014 and 5:00 PM PDT on 31 August 2014. Must be 21 years or older and hold a valid driver’s license or passport to enter Vanity Night Club.

For more information on all PADI at DEMA events please visit the PADI Pros’ Site.

PADI RM Meeting Italy 2014

 

This three daDSC_2900y event has brought together all the PADI EMEA regional managers to discuss and share ideas. This PADI RM Meeting has provided a multitude of ideas and business tips to share with all the PADI members in EMEA. We also discuss the fantastic content of the PADI Business Academy. We looking forward to returning back to the UK to put these into action.

PADI Staff Spotlight: Sophie Haye (Coordinator, Instructor Development)

Sophie Haye – Coordinator, Instructor Development

Sophie Haye

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Contact details:

Email: [email protected]

Telephone:+44 117 300 7303

A quick bio from Sophie:

“I’m an Instructor Development coordinator here at PADI EMEA and I’ve been working here for around a year and a half. Before PADI I was studying French & Spanish and Cardiff University then did a work placement in Spain for a short while before returning to Bristol, where I grew up. In my spare time I sing in a 3-part harmony trio and make a mean cupcake (if I do say so myself)”

When did you first learn to dive? I did the Open Water course in August 2013 with some of my fantastic colleagues as my instructors.

How many dives have you done?  Only the Open Water ones so far, but I definitely plan to get more dives logged in 2014.

What is the first bit of dive equipment you bought? A Mask and Snorkel.

If you could only pack one bit of dive equipment to take with you on a trip what would it be? Well… my mask and snorkel as that’s all I own at the moment!

What is your favourite dive site in the UK? I’ve only been to Cromhall quarry for my training so I guess it wins by default! I’m keen to try out some more UK dive sites this year.

What is your favourite dive site in the world?  Ask me after I’ve been to the Philippines in April 😀

What song do you currently like to listen to before you go diving? The entire Beyoncé back catalogue.

What is your favourite animal underwater? Whale sharks absolutely fascinate me!

What animal would you love to see on your next dive? A Manta Ray would be pretty cool.

What dive site is at the top of your to wish list? I have a pretty long list but I think it has to be the Maldives

What sort of food do you pack in your lunch box to eat between dives? Home-made cupcakes.

If you could go diving with someone (dead or alive) who would it be? Dagmar Dworakowski – my partner in crime at the office!

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Congratulations!

Photo: Congratulations to John W. Mitchell on recently becoming a PADI Course Director! We wish John all the very best of success in the future.

We would like to congratulate John W. Mitchell on recently becoming a PADI Course Director. John attended the CDTC in Malaysia along with 13 other PADI Master Instructors who successfully completed the programme. John is based in the UK. Well done all the attendees!!!!

 

PADI Pro Workshops

PADI Europe, Middle East and Africa is launching an exciting series of practical workshops, offering  you the opportunity to take part in a variety of interactive practical sessions, meet PADI staff and network amongst your peers.

We have a selection of different experiences for you during the course of the day, so bring your dive gear, and join our experienced examiner team for a Control Techniques Workshop, where you’ll take away some hints and tips from the staff on how to conduct some of the classic and updated skills, with an emphasis on real-world best practices for control in open water. You can also refresh your rescue skills in the fun and interactive Rescue Workshop, and make sure you’re up to speed with the latest rescue protocols. And if you’re a Course Director or IDC Staff Instructor, you’re also invited to take part in an Evaluation Training Workshop, where we’ll practice evaluating some of the skills from the recently revised Open Water Diver Course (as a bonus you can attend any of these workshops free of charge if you also just came along to the corresponding IDC Staff Instructor / Course Director Update!).

When you’ve dried off, or even if you aren’t able to attend the in-water sessions, you can also attend the complimentary Risk Management Seminar, pick up some tips on conducting the Revised Open Water Diver Course, and take advantage of a Training Drop-In Clinic to ask the Training team any questions you have about PADI programmes or materials. In some locations, these programmes will also be combined with a Member Forum hosted by your PADI Regional Manager!

You can find the latest schedule of workshop dates and download a registration form here.

We look forward to seeing you soon!