Elite Instructor Interview: Chris Azab, PADI Course Director

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Chris Azab, a highly experienced PADI Course Director and Tec Deep/Trimix Instructor, has been diving “a long time” and was awarded the status of PADI Elite Instructor 2015 earlier this year, an award which recognises the achievements of PADI’s top performing instructors around the world.

With an impressive 11,000+ dives in her logbook, Chris conducts Instructor Development Courses in the Netherlands and Egypt, teaching in her mother tongue of Dutch as well as English, German and Arabic.

PADI Regional Manager Teo Brambilla caught up with her to learn more about her achievements as a PADI Pro, and what being a PADI Elite Instructor means to her.


chris-azab-studentsWhat inspired you to become a PADI Professional?

Ever since I started diving in 1998, I’ve loved the underwater world and its beautiful creatures. I wanted to show them to other people, so in 2001 I became a PADI Pro.

How do you think you’ve changed – personally and professionally – as you’ve moved up the ranks to become a PADI Elite Instructor?

Personally, I’ve changed my whole life! I was working for a banking and insurance company, and chose a different lifestyle. Since 2004 I have been working full time in the diving industry, making people happy. I’m always proud of what I’m doing; working as a professional teacher, thinking positively all of the time – that’s how I reached the PADI Elite Instructor status.

chris-azab-studentWhich PADI courses do you enjoy teaching the most, and why?

I love to teach new PADI Instructor candidates, that’s why I became a PADI Course Director – I see so many positive changes in people. Another favourite is the Tec Sidemount course, it’s great to do dives with more tanks on the side before moving on to further Tec courses.

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

Becoming a Silver PADI Course Director and PADI Tec Trimix Instructor. One day I hope to achieve Gold status, and then Platinum. Teaching people is my passion!

chris-azab3What does diving give you that nothing else does?

During diving, it’s the silence… and then after each dive I love the smile on each diver’s face. And that’s the same for teaching, as well – seeing that smile.

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

When I started my PADI Advanced Open Water Diver course, the Night Adventure Dive was mandatory, but I really didn’t want to do it. I reached two meters and quit the dive, but I still wanted to become an Advanced Open Water Diver… My PADI Instructor took me to Marseille, France, and let me try it again. I succeeded – not with pleasure, but I did it. The next night dive I booked was during a holiday in Egypt, and from that moment forgot my fears and I’ve found night diving great ever since.

chris-azab2Do you believe you change others’ lives through teaching scuba diving?

Absolutely. Students change from shy to confident, and I’ve had students suffering from depression turn into positive and active people. Some become PADI Instructors, quitting their jobs and travelling around the world. Some even started their own PADI Dive Center. I’ve given students the power to overcome any fear, I’ve given disabled students freedom, and helped people become positive. That’s why I want to do this job as long as I can – it’s amazing to change lives.

How does it feel to be recognised as one of PADI’s Elite Instructors in 2015?

It’s a result of hard work… being a real PADI Professional with quality teaching. I’m proud of it!

What would you say to other PADI Instructors hoping to become Elite Instructors?

Follow your heart and your dream. You are your only limit.

And finally, what does “my PADI” mean to you?

“My PADI” is my way of living. It’s a lifestyle, supported and promoted by PADI and I’m proud to be a part of it. I want to follow this lifestyle as long as I can. It’s not always easy, but I’d still choose this life. It’s an adventure as well, so let’s go for it. I remember the words from my PADI Open Water Diver course a long time ago and they still count; meet people, go places and do things. So, for now, I’m on my way to Malta…


Find out more about the 2016 PADI Elite Instructor Award.

Find out more about Chris Azab via her website.

What is a PADI AmbassaDiver?

AmbassaDiver_Hor_Logo_RedBlk - CopyLast week we launched our search for our PADI AmbassaDiver! We are looking for Pro divers and divers who really make a difference and have a story to tell. But what does it all mean?

As a PADI AmbassaDiver, you will be representing what PADI stands for. A passion for the ocean, safe diving and a constant desire for new adventures. You will be introduced as an AmbassaDiver on the official PADI blog where we will highlight your projects and your story. We will keep up with your adventures and the way you influence the diving community all year. You will also receive exclusive PADI AmbassaDiver merchandise.

You will be a part of all the new product releases, engage with the PADI news, and be invited to talk at events such as PADI member updates or PADI Go pro night. You will be a brand advocate of PADI through social platforms, events and relevant engagements and will be expected to use said social platforms to bring brand awareness as AmbassaDivers are passionate about diving, exploration and adventure, and sharing their love of the sport and the ocean planet is one of their greatest joys.

PADI AmbassaDivers are leaders in the dive industry or local communities and will be elected based on their abilities to influence, engage and inspire others to start and keep diving.

Through passion and dedication, PADI Brand Ambassadors are changing the world of diving or changing the world through diving.

Application Procedures:

Applicants for the PADI AmbassaDiver program should be certified by PADI and able to show a strong social media following and/or significant contributions to scuba diving or related areas.

Download the application here and send an email to [email protected] telling us why we should choose you!

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Congratulations to PADI’s Top Certifying Instructors in 2015

Go_Pro_CAY07_1136_TS_KingWorld_LGTop certifying PADI Instructors will soon be receiving their Elite Instructor Award. This award celebrates the achievements of PADI Instructors who issued 50, 100, 150, 200 or 300+ certifications during 2015.

The Elite Instructor Award distinguishes PADI professionals by highlighting their experience as PADI Members and gives them the means to promote their elite status to student divers, potential students, prospective employers and others. Elite Instructor Award recipients receive an acknowledgement letter and recognition certificate (both signed by PADI President and Chief Executive Officer Dr. Drew Richardson), a decal to add to their instructor cards, and an e-badge they may use on emails, websites, blogs and social media pages. Elite award instructors may authorize PADI Dive Centres or Resorts with which they associate to display their Elite Instructor Award on the business’ digital site as well.

Check out the 2015 Global Elite Instructor Recipient List to see who earned an award for their 2015 certifications. Listed PADI Instructors can go to the “My Account” tab on this site to download their 2015 Elite Instructor e-badge, and should also be able to see their e-badge on their PADI Pro Chek results page.

Visit the PADI Elite Instructor information page to read about the program.

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5 Tips for your PADI Pro CV & Job Applications

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Are you searching for a job in the diving industry? As a PADI Pro, you’re already on the right path to your dream career, with incredible opportunities for PADI Divemasters/Instructors.

Of course, as with any “dream job”, there are a lot of other diving professionals who will be competing for the best and most interesting diving jobs in the world – just like you. So, it’s particularly important that you give the best possible impression with your application documents and stand out from the masses of candidates.

To help you succeed in being top of the shortlist, here are 5 tips for your professional CV and application:

#1 Make it look professional

As a PADI Pro you carry a lot of responsibility, and you’ll need to gain the confidence of your customers and guests with a professional attitude. Make sure your CV reflects your professionalism and follow the guidelines that potential employers will expect.

Include an interesting cover letter, a curriculum vitae (CV) with the right amount of detail, and a professional portrait photo of yourself. Check your spelling and grammar, and make sure your documents are well-presented so that they are neat and clear to read.

#2 Keep it short and simple, but be creative

shutterstock_282305675Your potential employer – the owner of dive shop or liveaboard, or the personnel manager in charge – usually have busy days and very long working hours. So, they won’t have much time to make their first selection of candidates based on the applications they receive.

For this reason, it’s especially important for your application documents to be brief. Include all of your information and why you are the right person for the job – “short and sweet” and to the point. To get the added benefit, add some (professional) creativity to your application so that it will be unmistakable.

My tip: search the internet for a wealth of creative templates for your application that will help your structure and creativity whilst covering the main points in #1.

#3 Use a reputable photo in your application

T-shirts, shorts and sunglasses are, in many parts of the world, the work clothes for a professional scuba instructor… but on your application photograph you shouldn’t aim for “cool”. It’s essential your future employer can easily identify you from your photography and see – at a glance – that you would make a professional and respectable candidate for their PADI Divemaster or Instructor.

Use a normal passport photograph, and even better, add an additional full-length shot in smart, professional clothing.

#4 Watch your file size

imagesSome of the finest diving spots on our planet are often off-the-beaten-track and in isolated areas where the internet is not as fast as you might be used to back home. For that reason, make sure the file size of any digital applications – including your CV and any photos – are not too large. Avoid any applications which are larger than 1MB.

Sending your documents in PDF file format will help to keep the file size small and helps to ensure your future employer will be able to open and read it without needing special software.

#5 Don’t forget your additional skills

A lot of PADI Pros make the same mistake when applying for a new job: they only list their diving qualifications and skills. However, including your additional skills will say a lot about you as a person and could be crucial to helping you win your dream job.

Are you an experienced photographer or videographer – perhaps even underwater? Are you familiar with certain types of computers, applications or gadgets? Maybe you’re a carpenter, engineer or even a nurse? Make sure you’re showcasing all of your skills and talents – just in case!


christian_huboThis article is a translation of this article written by guest blogger, Christian Hubo. A PADI diving instructor, Christian has enjoyed over 4,000 dives whilst travelling around the world. Above the surface, he’s hiked thousands of kilometers across the natural world. Christian is a freelance web and media designer, underwater photographer, social media and marketing consultant and freelance author. His magazine articles and blog, Feel4Nature, inspires people to follow an independent, individual and eco-conscious lifestyle.

Pro Dive-PE Reaches its 10,000 PADI Diver Certification Milestone!

Pro Dive-PE (Port Elizabeth), one of South Africa’s largest dive centers, has recently reached its 10,000 PADI Diver Certification Milestone. Pro Dive’s passion for diving means it has become one of South Africa’s most popular diver training facilities, offering a full range of PADI courses from entry level to Instructor, including PADI Specialties.

Pro Dive also has a facility in Plettenberg Bay, within the Beacon Isle Hotel, which offers shore dives, boat dives and on-site introductions to diving.

As well as superb diver training and diving experiences, Pro Dive offers those who want to dive regularly, a dive club. The Pro Dive Club rewards its divers with special offers and deals on equipment and dive packages, making it very affordable for people to log dives.

PADI is proud to call Pro Dive a PADI 5 Star Dive Centre and looks forward to working with the Dive Centre to achieve its next 10,000 certifications!

My Top 3 EMEA Dives – Part 3: The Zenobia, Cyprus (Guest blog by Alexandra Dimitriou-Engeler)

In this article, guest blogger Alexandra Dimitriou-Engeler concludes her list of top 3 dives in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region. Missed the previous articles? Catch up on Part 1 and Part 2.


Dive Site: Zenobia Wreck

Location: Larnaca, Cyprus
Description: Wreck
Length: 174 meters
Depth: 18 – 42 meters

The Zenobia wreck is one of the top wreck dives on the planet, originally a roll on-roll off (RO-RO) ferry, not unlike the ferries that service the Dover-Calais route between the UK and France.

She sank in 42 meters of water in Larnaca, Cyprus on her maiden voyage in June, 1980 after departing from Malmo, Sweden. Her final destination was Tartous, Syria but she never made it; after just a short while at sea her captain noticed severe steering problems. Investigations showed that the ballast tanks on the port side were filling with water, and there was nothing they could do to stop it.

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My Top 3 EMEA Dives – Part 2: Ari Atoll, Maldives (Guest blog by Alexandra Dimitriou-Engeler)

In this article, guest blogger Alexandra Dimitriou-Engeler continues her run-down of her top 3 dives in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region. Missed Part 1? Read it here.


Dive Site: Ari Atoll

Location: Maldives
Description: Trench
Depth: 0 – 30 meters

I was lucky enough to celebrate my 30th birthday on a liveaboard in the Maldives. Four dives a day, in a location that is all about diving, was a dream come true. If I had to choose one dive that has stuck with me however, it has to be the whale shark encounter that I had in the Gaafu Atolls.

Strong currents are something that I am not used to (I come from a Mediterranean environment which is notorious for its calm, clear waters) and this trip was my first use of a reef hook. The current was particularly strong on this dive; my brother and I made a quick, negative entry and headed straight down to 20 meters – as we had been briefed to do beforehand. The plankton-rich waters were teeming with life, the cleaning stations were prominent and the dive group was experienced. This meant that the conditions were perfect for a very close encounter indeed.

The maldives are world-renowned for crystal clear waters and stunning marine life

Our dive guide must have been psychic. No sooner than the 10 of us making the dive had tucked ourselves away, a whale shark with an adolescent pup came into view. She was enormous. She was gentle and glorious. She was here for a cleaning and my brother and I were just meters away. I could have reached out and touched her if I had wanted to (I didn’t of course).

After 10 minutes the other divers started getting fidgety, but I didn’t want to move. I looked at my brother and could see that he had no intention of moving either. I signaled to the dive guide that we would stay, and that we would end the dive when either of us became lower on air with the safety of my DSMB, and that they should continue their dive. They signaled “OK”, released their hooks, and were a distant spec within minutes.

We stayed there for almost an hour. The whale shark was cleaned and we watched every second of it.

Whale sharks are regular visitors to the Maldivian atolls

This dive stays with me forever. I felt like I was on a conveyor belt of wonder, that my brother and I were the last two humans on earth and we had front row seats to all the action. I have seen whale sharks before, but this was the dive of a lifetime…. and that’s why it has made my top 3!

If you’ve enjoyed this article, watch this space for Part 3!


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.

Casting Call: What Does My PADI Mean To You?

mypadi_talent_headerShare your My PADI story and inspire more people to start, to keep and to teach diving. Describe what PADI means to you in a 500-750 word response to the following questions and you may be featured in the new My PADI global marketing campaign:

  • What was your inspiration to become a PADI Diver?
  • How has PADI changed your life or career?
  • What does PADI mean to you?
  • Complete this sentence. “My PADI is…”
  • How would you describe scuba diving in a word or sentence to a non diver?

Please email your submission along with a maximum of two photos (one of which must be a topside photo or head shot) to [email protected] by 31 October 2015.

My Top 3 EMEA Dives – Part 1: Million Hope Wreck (Guest blog by Alexandra Dimitriou-Engeler)

“So what’s your favorite dive site?” asked a freshly scuba addicted student yesterday.
“Ummm… That’s a really hard question!” I’d replied.
He looked puzzled, “Why?”

Why indeed. I am a PADI Instructor, as are many of you. I am sure you get asked about your favorite dive site all of the time too – don’t you? What is your answer? How do you choose? How is it possible to remember every amazing experience underwater and then pick only one? It is almost always impossible. Diving is incredible in so many ways. You can enjoy a wreck dive as much as a wildlife dive, but we love them each for very different reasons.

So I thought I would write about my top 3 dive sites in this three-part blog series. Surely I can narrow it down to 3!

Dive Site 1: Million Hope Wreck

Location: Nabq Sharm El Sheikh
Description: Wreck
Length: 130 meters
Depth: 0-30 meters

Million Hope

This wreck has it all. It’s huge, it’s in shallow water, it’s covered in coral and teeming with life. This wreck is rarely dived due to its proximity to the shore line, and notoriously choppy waters make it hard to get there. However, if you are lucky enough to dive it you will be in for a real treat. It took me three trips to Egypt and many attempts by RIB before we had the right conditions to dive the Million Hope Wreck!

Why I love it…

Some of the ship is still visible above the surface but the majority is underwater. The shallow depth makes this wreck one of the most colourful and vibrant wrecks that I have ever seen. The traffic of fish was thick and the nudibranch were out in force. Beautiful.

It’s a big wreck! It is possible to get round it in one dive, although the use of nitrox to extend bottom time will make it a lot easier. This wreck sank in 1996 whilst heading for Cyprus. It was carrying fertilizer high in phosphates; the cargo had to be removed following an algae bloom, but there is still lots to see. The cranes that lie on the bottom create overhangs and there is even a Caterpillar crane at 22 meters; a bizarre addition to the dive that’s covered in colourful soft corals. The rotten seat and flooded controls are contrasted by the many scorpion, lion and glassfish that have made their home there.

Million Hope Wreck

White broccoli coral hangs from the ship’s stern but unfortunately the prop and rudder have been removed, leaving a void that the coral struggles to fill. It is one of the places on this ship that makes you feel very, very small! The hull is covered by enormous fire sponges and pajama slugs, as well as there being numerous starfish and pipefish clinging to it. There is a rotary telephone and a toilet seat in the sand surrounded by raspberry coral. There are penetration points everywhere; crew quarters, illuminated by various portholes; a work room complete with spanners on wall hooks, and where a piece of cloth still tied around an old radiator reminds us that this was a working ship.

You can also see the two boilers and twin six-cylinder engines before going up to make your safety stop. My “safety stop” lasted for more than 15 minutes! It was so beautiful between 3 and 5 meters that I could have stayed there forever.  The Million hope is a photographer’s dream – so full of natural light. The contrast of this huge rusty beast next to the multi-colored coral is one of the most breathtaking things I have ever seen.

Million Hope Wreck

If you’ve enjoyed this article, watch this space for Part 2 next week!


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.

Working on a Liveaboard: Pros and Cons

For many PADI Pros, the thought of working on a liveaboard is a dream opportunity. Maybe you’ve already toyed with the idea or started applying for that once-in-a-lifetime position, imagining endless expanses of sea and the fascinating dive sites that can only be reached by safari boat.

Whilst this is certainly a worthy attraction for PADI Pros, there’s a few lifestyle sacrifices you’ll also need to be aware of – and prepared to make – to avoid disappointment. Check out the pros and cons below to make sure you know what to expect before heading out to sea on your first job.

Pros

#1 Dive sites

Many of the best and most spectacular dive sites of our blue planet can only be reached from a liveaboard. As a PADI Pro, you’ll undoubtedly experience countless memorable dives that you wouldn’t have access to from the shore.

#2 Experienced divers

If you work as a PADI Pro on a liveaboard, you will accompany many experienced divers on their dives and depending on the level of experience they may even ask to go alone with their dive buddy. This means you’ll often only need to guide smaller groups and show them the most beautiful corners of dive sites.

feel4nature-tauchsafari-1#3 Specific interests

Due to the previous dive experience often required for a longer safari trip, it’s less common to encounter training courses on a liveaboard, and those that are conducted usually focus on developing the specific interests of the group or skills relevant to the type of dives they’ll do, such as PADI Digital Underwater Photographer, PADI Deep Diver or PADI Enriched Air Diver. This often means you’ll be able to apply more of your personal interests and experience over a more relaxed scenario.

#4 Building relationships

Because you will spend a week or even longer with your guests on a liveaboard trip, there is plenty of time to build up a friendly relationship with the divers on board. Not only does this mean building happy memories from great trips, but it’s also a springboard for creating loyalty amongst customers who will want to come back and dive with you – and your business – in the future.

Cons

#1 Limited lifestyle

If you have ever been on a boat, you’ll remember how small the space can be, and cabins of liveaboard boats are no exception. Dive guests may only spend a few days like this, but remember you may need to call it your home for several months.

You’ll also need to be prepared to sacrifice comforts such as long showers, internet access and even peace and privacy, as well as the ability to catch up with your partner or friends at the end of each day – while you’re on board, your friends are your customers.

#2 Need for preparation

One of the benefits of liveaboards is the ability to travel to faraway destinations, sometimes several hours away from land. This means you need to be prepared for the journey as you won’t be able to pop back to shore if you need something.

From Divemaster training and above, self-sufficiency is emphasised – and bringing extra gear in case you or your guests need something is even more important when liveaboard diving. Double check your packing list to make sure everything is on board, which should include plenty of spare gear, from o-rings to masks, as well as medical supplies such as seasickness tablets.

feel4nature-tauchsafari-2#3 Physical demands

As a PADI Professional working on a liveaboard, you may be expected to complete multiple dives every day for several days at a time, and there won’t be spare Divemasters or Instructors ready to take your place once you’re out at sea. It won’t be possible to cancel your guests’ diving plans just because you feel tired or just don’t feel like diving today – just like shore-based operations, you are required to support the needs of your paying customers, and it’s your responsibility to make sure you’re fit for duty. If you don’t think you can keep up with the demand, then liveaboard diving might not be for you.

#4 Diving experience

We already know that liveaboards travel to some of the best diving spots in the world, but quite often these are also the most demanding places to dive. Strong currents, difficult entries, dives in blue water with no reference and potentially tricky surface conditions mean that, as a PADI Pro with guests under your care, you need to have enough experience in the same conditions to be able to safely operate and guide the dive.

If you’ve read the above and think that liveaboard diving is a perfect match for your skills and lifestyle, then visit the Job Vacancy board on the PADI Pros’ Site today to start searching for your dream job!


christian_huboThis article was written by guest blogger, Christian Hubo. A PADI diving instructor, Christian has enjoyed over 4,000 dives whilst travelling around the world. Above the surface, he’s hiked thousands of kilometers across the natural world. Christian is a freelance web and media designer, underwater photographer, social media and marketing consultant and freelance author. His magazine articles and blog, Feel4Nature, inspires people to follow an independent, individual and eco-conscious lifestyle.