Interview with Sendi: Legendary Maldivian PADI Course Director

sendiHussain Rasheed, better known as Sendi, became a PADI Divemaster in 1986, an instructor in 1993 and Course Director in 2000. 2016 is his 30th year as a PADI member and he continues to teach regularly concentrating primarily on teaching PADI Professionals. Sendi is the Managing Director of diveOceanus Group.

He also created and organised the Maldives Underwater cabinet meeting – an amazing event where the President of the Maldives went diving and they held an underwater cabinet Meeting.

Sendi was the operations manager for a dive that lasted 24hrs and involved 350 divers, as well as a Dive for Diabetic, involving 300 divers raising awareness of Diabetes.

Sendi has given many presentations at local schools sharing his love and knowledge of the local environment and ensuring that the next generation understands its importance both to the Maldivian economy and place in their hearts and souls. In this same spirit he has spearheaded TV programs that expand that education to an even wider audience.

In recognition of his many efforts Sendi has received both the tourism award and presidential award, each one a major acknowledgement, but together they show his dedication and contribution over many years.

During the recent Boot Show in Düsseldorf, Germany, Matt Wenger, the newly appointed Regional Manager for the Maldives, caught up with Sendi to talk about his experience of being a PADI member for 30 years and his involvement in different marine conservation efforts in the Republic of Maldives.


PADI: Hello, Sendi! Thank you very much for taking the time to answer these questions. First of all, can we ask you to tell us more about yourself and where you’re from?

Sendi: Male’ – the capital city of the Maldives.

PADI: Sendi, you started diving at a very young age. When was this exactly – and do you remember your very first dive?

Sendi: I started diving in 1981. My first dive was the Victory wreck, in the Maldives – three days after it first sank.

PADI: You are the first and still, only Maldivian PADI Course Director. Do you recall your Course Director Training Course (CDTC), and are you able to share the particular moment you enjoyed most about the program?

Sendi: I enjoyed every moment – especially the evaluations. I can remember that my Open Water assessment was the CESA skill and the one and only Drew Richardson CEO and President of PADI was evaluating me.

PADI: What is the best bit about instructing divers or professional PADI Members?

Sendi: When teaching divers, it’s the satisfaction that they will become environmental ambassadors. So, for the Professionals… they will become the ambassador trainers. I enjoy every moment, on all levels, and have so many good memories.

PADI: The ocean is your office…what do you enjoy most about diving?

Sendi: Photography, without a doubt!

PADI: You have other business ventures, too. Can you explain for our readers what else you do?

Sendi: I’m an Executive Director for DiveOceanus, operating five PADI Dive Centers across four different atolls in the Maldives and taking care of 40 diving professionals.

I’m also an advisor and former Dean of the Faculty of Marine Studies and Water Sports, Villa College. There are four departments: Marine Science, Watersports, Scuba Diving and Marine Medicine – we accredit PADI courses within Villa College diploma and degree courses.

PADI: The protection of our oceans is a very important part of your life. What conservation efforts are you taking part in?

Sendi: I have been actively involved in the lobbying of all marine protected species and dive sites in the Maldives since I started scuba diving.

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PADI: What are your tips for anyone traveling to the Maldives, and how they can make a difference in protecting this fragile Indian Ocean environment?

Sendi: Do not buy any souvenirs like corals, shark tooth, shark jaws etc. Also to raise their voice to “stop importing shark products into Europe”. Prior to the protections of sharks here in 2010, the Maldives shark fin was officially exported to many European countries (Maldives customs records). Now in the Maldives we have a black market as there are lot of buyers.

PADI: The Maldives are internationally known for some of the best diving experiences in the world. What particular underwater creature do you like most?

Sendi: Every creature is unique; colour, shape, patterns, size etc. Just being with all creatures and underwater for a few hours a day keeps me going!

PADI: I have noticed you like cats, and you have several yourself! What do cats mean to you?

Sendi: My family has learned to adapt and live with four generations of cats (from one family). This family also adapted to live with our family. There is too much to talk about the topic! Living with a family of around 20 cats, I have learned everything about nature more than underwater as you cannot live underwater.

PADI: Sendi thank you very much for your time and for sharing a little bit of both your professional and personal passions with us. I wish you the best of success in your future endeavours.


Sendi’s career path shows a deep love of the ocean that surrounds everyone who lives in the Maldives as well as a passion for sharing his knowledge with his fellow Madivians as well as visitors to the islands. His core values of being and teaching others to be ambassadors for the environment that we all love is one shared by PADI and, of course, Project Aware.

The Maldives is a truly amazing place and one of the most famous diving destinations in the world: from shallow water lagoons filled with delicate corals teeming with fish to the deeper waters and exciting drift dives, accessible only by boat, where divers encounter pelagics such as Manta Rays and Sharks, the Maldives have some of the best diving in the world. If you haven’t been yet, let me tell you, the hundreds of islands and liveaboards offer something for everyone and are an increasingly popular destination for dive schools and clubs. It will be the trip of a lifetime!

Learn more about the Maldives at Visit Maldives

Women’s Dive Day – Interviews with Leading Women in Diving (Alessandra Sicilia)

padi-womens-scuba-dive-day-2015-1024x316PADI is proud to present the inaugural PADI Women’s Dive Day on 18 July 2015, a special day to get women together, in the water and involved in diving. With numerous events being hosted around the world, the goal is to get as many women as possible, at every level, diving on the same day in order to build awareness and interest for the sport.

PADI Regional Manager Jonas Samuelsson decided to interview five leading women in the dive industry during the month leading up to the Women’s Dive Day.First up is Alessandra Sicilia, Manager TGI Diving, with three PADI Divecenters in Egypt and a total of 12 around the world.


Let’s start…

io e lolloThank you very much for taking the time to share your experiences in the diving industry. When and how did you get involved in diving?

I always felt attracted by the diving world, but because of an earlier surgery, I was told I would never be able to equalize. However in 2001 thanks to the passion of a PADI Instructor and a second opinion from a MD who was specialized in diving I was good to go. I had no problems to equalize and I was feeling more free than with my feet on the ground. I never stopped since that day. PAD Open Water Diver led to Advanced Open Water Diver and within 5 months I was a PADI DIvemaster. Diving became my life, part of my soul. That first confined dive was truly life changing for me.

Current position in diving?

I am the Area, Technical and Training Manager for TGI Diving Red Sea. My professional diving level is PADI Master Instructor.

Tips to someone who is thinking about a career in diving?

Well knowing how to dive is not enough to be successful. You need to have many other trades like a good understanding of logistics, accounting, customer care, updated and a great understanding of the importance of protecting our environment and its ecosystem.

Favourite part of working in diving?

io e la mia IDMFrom my point of view is to see colleagues and students grow under my management. To be able to be in charge of a company that touches the heart of so many people. To see previous Open Water Divers grow and become employed in the same shop as a diving instructor where they learned how to dive – its priceless.

Any dream dive you aspire to?

A lot actually! From the South-African Sardine Run, to the Malaysian Borneo, but my biggest dream is to bump into humpback whale passing by during a dive…

What would the next course in diving be?

For several years I have been dreaming about becoming a PADI Course Director, but due to work commitments and daily management I did not have a chance yet, but 2016 is my year! To be able to change someone’s life by teaching them to become a diving instructor and give the person a career in the most amazing industry on the planet is my next goal.

Attributes that makes you more successful in diving?

miaIn addition of being blonde, Italian and pretty cool you mean? I had to be very committed to my career to be successful. Keep yourself updated, take new courses and be pretty firm. Attitude is the most important part of an instructors attributes however. You need to remember how it was the first time you went SCUBA and to show empathy and patience during each course. Make sure that each course you teach is the best one you ever taught and build a rapport with your student during the training.

What is the next step in your career?

PADI CDTC, Course Director Training Course, during 2016 and to establish Pro courses in both our shop in Marsa Alam and in El Gouna. I am dreaming of making TGI into a PADI CDC Center. This is an ambitious goal but with the team I work with all around the Red Sea area I certain we will reach there in the near future.

Best moment in diving?

mia 2My best moments in diving is when I go diving with my husband Lollo. Lollo and I work together and we share the love for diving. Each chance we get we go for a dive together. How many people can say that when they go with their family on a holiday they do exactly the same thing during their holidays as when they work. I consider myself so lucky to choose this path. Choose to work with something you love and you never work another day in your life.

Thank you Alessandra for taking the time by answering a few questions. You are an inspiration for divers all around the world. I am looking forward to see you in August for the DSD Pool Party that we organized between PADI EMEA and TGI EL Gouna.

Thank you Jonas and see you in August.

How to Become Part of the Diving Dream Team (And Other Useful Tips)

Alexandra DimitriouAlexandra Dimitriou-Engeler is a PADI Dive Center owner in Agia Napa, Cyprus. She became a diver in 1992 and received her bachelor’s degree in Oceanography at Plymouth University in 2003. Her love of the ocean has always been her driving force, and this has led to the natural progression of becoming a diving instructor in 2005. She is currently a PADI staff instructor and owner of Scuba Monkey Ltd and is writing a series of guest blogs for PADI Europe, Middle East and Africa. Her latest article focuses on what dive center owners look for when hiring scuba staff…


Scuba diving Instructors and Divemasters are considered to have the “Dream Job”. This year marks my 10th anniversary as a diving instructor. I have worked for countless dive operations before becoming a dive center owner, so I know both sides of how the staffing cookie crumbles….so let me share a few insider tips and tricks to a successful application.

So…..you are now a PADI Professional – but how do you get the job?

How many people were on your IDC? How many successful instructors did your examiner see this year? How many in the last 5 years? Ask the same question about becoming a PADI Divemaster. Just how many PADI professionals are there in the world anyhow?

I think you will find that the answer is “a lot” – close to 150,000 professionals in fact, and they are all competing for that “dream job”. What makes you so special? What makes you stand out above the rest? What are dive center owners looking for?

Dive Center Needs

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Diving is ever-evolving, as it now competes with countless other “extreme” sports in the leisure tourism market. Diving has responded by diversifying its menu, offering new practices like sidemount, technical and countless other distinctive specialties. Dive centers also compete with each other in each region in the hope that they too will stand out above the rest. Targeting niche markets is a great way to increase turnover, diversifying again and again as the market changes from year to year.

“Staff are the most vital element of any dive operation.”

Without staff we are dead in the water. Without you we cannot function. It is very well to stock your shelves with the best gear, state-of-the-art tech and offer every specialty under the sun – but if you do not have the support of the right staff then you are going to have problems.

When I look for dive center staff I look for six things:

#1 Training

When did you become an instructor/divemaster? What can you teach?

#2 Experience

This is a tricky one. Which is the better choice – the seasoned instructor or the newly qualified OWSI? Both have their benefits. Both have their drawbacks.

On one hand, a seasoned instructor who can teach 10 specialties is an awesome asset for the dive center, but how set in their ways are they? Can they teach each program and course with equal enthusiasm? Can they gel themselves into the team to become part of a well-oiled machine when the season kicks into full swing? In my experience the main advantage of hiring an instructor with experience is that they know how to get the methods of each PADI component in to an actual time schedule that is workable for the dive center.

DSC00740 copyThe newly certified instructor on the other hand, who is fresh off their IDC and has not yet worked in a dive center, is yours to mold. They have no experience, but sometimes this is a benefit as they have yet to pick up any bad habits. They are still in “learning mode” and absorb every molecule of information. The main advantage of hiring a “newbie” is that they are the most up to date instructor on the market. Latest IDC = Latest standards. Thanks to the IE they have very recently had these standards drilled in to them, repeatedly…

#3 Languages

Cyprus is a holiday destination with visitors from all walks of life. Learning and listening is much more comfortable for a guest if it is in their mother tongue, or at least one they understand. For this reason my main motivating factor when looking for staff is to fill this need. The more languages that you can teach in, the better. I worked for one dive center who paid their instructors an extra 50 dollars a week for every additional language that they spoke outside of English. That was pretty cool.

#4 Personality

IreEng06_0810The diving lifestyle is a dynamic one, full of energy and passion. I need my team to be full of it. Full of infectious enthusiasm that will keep our guests coming back again and again, year after year. Smiling is a uniform in my book, and there is no such thing as a bad day. I need to feel this energy. It needs to be oozing out of you. I love my job, and I want like-minded people around me. A good dive team bounces off each other, and we become a family, fast. You can have all the training in the world, but it is of no use to me or my dive center if you cannot smile.

#5 Local Knowledge

It is common sense that it takes a little time to learn a new dive site, and new staff require an orientation just like the rest of us. It is valuable to hire someone who is at least familiar with the sites where we take our customers as time is, after all, money. It is not essential however. A good divemaster or instructor should have a good sense of direction, a good memory of dive routes and therefore would be able to pick things up quickly – but prior knowledge is definitely a bonus.

#6 What can you do that I cannot?

As a team we each have our strengths and weaknesses. Together we are stronger. I will often hire someone who can teach specialties that I cannot, or have some other additional skill that will help the dive center as a whole. We never stop learning, and each addition to the team will bring something to the table, and we will learn from each other.

How do I evaluate prospective team members?

Step 1: Facebook

shutterstock_204633139Today, privacy is a luxury that has to be guarded vigilantly. The first thing I do when I receive an application is to cut and paste the applicants name straight into the Facebook search bar. You would be surprised how few people know how to use their privacy settings effectively. Public posts of drunken behavior, inappropriate material and not-politically-correct attitudes are not going to impress a prospective employer…..so pay close attention to this when looking for your dream diving position. What I do love to see on Facebook is an applicant’s enthusiasm for diving. Lots of smiles in dive gear repetitively posted shows a history of passion. That’s a good thing.

Step 2: CV

Your CV is your first contact with your potential employer. First impressions count. I like applications that also include a cover letter telling me a little bit about themselves before getting down to the sterile format of the conventional CV. Include a photograph too – after all, if you get the job you will become part of a family, and I like to see you as soon as possible. Ensure that your CV is in a format that is easy on the eye and above all, keep it brief and relevant. I do not want to have to search for information or read over 1000 words on why you like pickles. You also do not have to include every last job that you have ever had – your diving experience and training is what I am interested in, so that is what you should focus on. Include a reference if possible, and don’t forget the (correct!) contact details.

Step 3: Skype interview

If I like the look of your CV I will want to meet you. Face to face is ideal, but this is rarely possible, so Skype is a good alternative. I want to see the energy. I want to see the smiles. I do not want to see you in your underwear, in a bedroom that looks like scientists could find the missing link to human kind somewhere among your piles of dirty laundry. Impressions are very important, so be clean, on time and make sure your internet connection is not having any problems. You can be the happiest, most experienced candidate in the pile – but if I struggle to hear a whole sentence without the beeps and squeaks of a bad connection it will be hard for me to judge your character.

So what now?

PADI University Program Channel Islands Shoot March 24-29, 2007I think above all the right job for you as an instructor or divemaster is out there, you just have to find it. There is a dive center who is waiting for what you can bring to their mix. I think the best bit of advice I can give you above all is to be upfront with everything. Don’t oversell yourself and be honest. Don’t pad out your CV. Get as much experience as you can and be as flexible as possible. Let your personality show in your application – diving is high in people skills and even higher in passion, it is not a normal job and we hate the mundane…so don’t be afraid to shine.

Don’t be afraid of rejection either. Apply, apply, and apply!

“If a dive center does not accept you it does not mean that you are unsuccessful, it means that your journey to achieving your dream job is simply not over.”

They were just looking for something else and it is not an attack on your personality so don’t take it personally or let it get you down! Diversify your skills, take an instructor specialty course that is less common, or learn a new language. Get your PADI Course Director or student to write you a current testimonial – everything helps.

Who knows, I may even hire you at Scuba Monkey!


Looking for your dream scuba job? Check out the PADI Pros’ Site today for the latest dive industry vacancies – find them in the Classifieds Employment Board section.

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.