Women’s Dive Day – Interviews with Leading Women in Diving – Suzanne Smith

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 leading women in the dive industry during the month leading up to the Women’s Dive Day.

The final interview in the series ‘Women’s Dive Day – Interviews with Leading Women in Diving’ is with Suzanne Smith, a true champion in the dive industry and Director of Training at PADI EMEA, PADI Instructor Examiner and Vice Chair of Project AWARE Foundation International.

Suzanne started her successful career as a scientific diver and then moved on to become an active PADI Course Director which lead to a job at PADI in 1994. In my job as PADI Regional Manager I have daily contact with Suzanne and her team at the Training Department and each time they demonstrate what an extraordinaire support they provide all PADI Members in Europe, Middle East and Africa.

It’s been a true honor to be part of this interview series. The legends I have interviewed the last weeks are all truly inspiring. I would like to thank you for taking the time in your busy schedules. You are a true inspiration for all divers and non-divers around the world. Henry Ford once said “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.”. The women I interviewed the last few weeks have no doubt that they can.

I wish you a great Women’s Dive Day.

suzanne egypt 2When and how did you get involved in diving?

I started out as a scientific diver, through necessity rather than any eureka moment.  I learned to dive in 1986 in Canada, actually in a glacial run off lake near Jasper, with Ocean Sports in Edmonton. I was studying Geology at the University of Alberta at the time and needed a diving licence for my field studies in the Cayman Islands.  Before then I don’t think I had even thought about scuba diving even though I loved the water; I don’t recall there being much opportunity in England in those days, or not that came across my path.

I completed my studies and started working in the oil industry in London.  I secured contract jobs and in between contracts, I took time out to go diving.  I headed out to Australia and worked my way through my diving credentials until I could work as a Divemaster on the Great Barrier Reef.  I returned to my well paid contract work – just to save up again to head back out to Australia to do some more diving and became an instructor in 1991.  Well I loved it and was completely hooked.  From Australia, via some cash injection from more oil industry work.  I headed to Dahab, Egypt to teach more diving.  By late 1994, I had secured a job at PADI back in Bristol and am still here.

Aquanaute_1990_NIC_Current position in diving?

I am now Director of Training at PADI EMEA Ltd.  I’m also a PADI Instructor Examiner and Vice Chair of Project AWARE Foundation International.  I hope I represent one aspect of what women can achieve in the diving industry, and that it truly is a sport (and career) for anyone.

What you find the most exciting about diving?

As divers, we are so privileged to be able to interact with the underwater world first hand.  Photos and videos are wonderful and open access to everyone, but nothing beats the feel of the ocean around you, the unexpectness of what every dive brings and the pure thrill of breathing underwater. I find it both exhilarating and calming at the same time.

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

From being a dive instructor I chose the path with a diver training organisation where I could use my skills in education, business and project management, and build a career for myself.  My advice – do what you love, work hard and be passionate about what you do, and the rest will follow.

_6191715Favourite part of working in diving?

Working with such an array of talented people, from different countries and cultures, with a shared dedication to our work. Everything we strive to do is to make the wonders of diving available to more people, to keep the dive industry vibrant and sustainable so that it supports other people’s careers and try to be advocates for underwater life.  Not many people can say that about their working day.

Any dream dive you aspire to?

I’m lucky to have had the opportunity to dive in some of the most fantastic places in the world.  As a geologist, my dream dive would be Silfra in Iceland along the spreading ridge.  Within my grasp, but just haven’t made it yet.

What would your next diving course be?

Actually, am learning to Free dive this summer – have never taken a formal course in this so it will be lovely to be a student from scratch again.

Attributes that makes someone more successful in the diving industry?

A positive attitude, willingness to try new things, ability to multi-task and lots of patience.

JHM_8495Best moment in diving?

Crikey, that’s a hard one. Diving in Sipadan, with my friends and colleagues, at dusk when the day boats have left, and before WiFi.

What is the next step in your career?

Every day I learn something new and do something different. I love what I’m doing and have the best job in the world – why would I do something else?

Thank you so much for taking the time by sharing experiences from your amazing career in diving. It’s been truly inspiring. See you in Bristol in a couple of weeks. 

Thank you and see you soon in Bristol.