The Adaptable Prevail

Drew Richardson staff shotPut “adaptive” and “PADI” together and it conjures images of people overcoming disabilities and challenges, and rightly so. Diving is one of those rare, rich experiences that can help heal the body, heart and soul, whether someone’s dealing with PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), paraplegia, cerebral palsy, amputation – the list goes on, as you know. With its performance-based design focused on what people can do instead of what they can’t, the PADI® System’s adaptive approach has opened diving and the underwater world to thousands.

Thousands? I should say millions. The PADI System’s adaptability isn’t new, and it benefits 25 million of us and counting – that’s every single PADI Diver. It has made PADI the world’s dominating force in diving because we all have challenges, needs, interests, preferences and desires. Only a system that adapts to the infinite individuality of learning and teaching can address all of these distinct variables.

What makes the PADI System stand apart is its ability to fi t a standardized diving instructional system to so many people individually, in so many ways. It is international, cross-cultural, multilingual and transgenerational, so that beyond accommodating varied learning needs and preferences it builds a bridge that makes us one amid our differences. Take five PADI Divers from China, Italy, Mexico, Russia and Vietnam and put them on a boat for a day. They share a language even if they don’t, because they “speak” diving and the ocean, thanks to the PADI System you and your fellow PADI Professionals apply every day.

The PADI System succeeds because it stands on a solid, unshakeable but adaptable philosophical and instructional foundation that retains our core values while evolving as emerging technologies and social trends change how we meet individual needs, one student at a time. As the PADI family stands up for ocean health and marine animal protection, and champions the power of diving in community, and health and wellness, we need to recognize that, hand in hand with tenacity, this is where our strength lies. Overcoming challenges requires adapting what we do, whether it’s to help one person with an individual need or one planet with a social need.

The Chinese philosopher Lao-tsu said, “An army that cannot yield will be defeated. A tree that cannot bend will crack in the wind. The hard and stiff will be broken; the soft and supple will prevail.” The PADI family has emerged as a force for good because we don’t try to live in someone’s idealized version of what the world should be. Rather, we are supple. We adapt and change to meet what the real world blows our way. Together, we always have, and I expect, always will.

Good luck, good teaching and good diving,

Drew Richardson Ed.D.
PADI President and CEO

DEMA 2017: Passing the Torch

By Tara Bradley Connell

The DEMA Show 2017 kicked things off at the PADI® Social with an inspirational speech by Dr. Drew Richardson, the President and Chief Executive Officer for PADI Worldwide.

And while discussing innovations in the dive industry and the importance of dive education is always a popular topic amongst the dive community, this year, Richardson took the message a little deeper.


Here’s a look at some of the takeaways from Richardson’s message:

THE POWER OF DIVING: STATS

  • PADI certifications to date – over 25 million
  • PADI professionals worldwide – 133,000
  • Median age for new divers – 29 years old

Richardson started things off by noting that every day members of the dive community are enabling others to fulfill their desire to explore.

“We are enablers of exploration of inner space,” he said. “Outer space exploration is selective for certain people but we together have the opportunity to explore and be part of the inner space mission.”

He then referred to a quote from English veteran broadcaster and naturalist, Sir David Attenborough:

“I can mention many moments that were unforgettable and revelatory, but the most single revelatory three minutes was the first time I put on scuba gear and dived on a coral reef. It’s just the unbelievable fact that you can move in three dimensions.”

THE MISSION

Richardson then focused on the importance of PADI professionals as leaders who have the ability to create a global community of competent divers that are champions for the water planet.

“We are the leaders but with that comes responsibility,” he said. “We must teach divers to be ambassadors for the underwater planet. We have a responsibility to be good ancestors.”

With a focus on “divers are the doers,” Richardson then went on to discuss PADI’s Four Pillars of Change.

FOUR PILLARS OF CHANGE

Marine Animal Protection

By joining forces with organizations like Project AWARE®, PADI is working to combat marine debris, protect sharks and rays, and instill the importance of sustainable fishing.

“With plastic, pollution, and overfishing, there are many issues to address, but it’s not too late,” Richardson said. “We can reverse some of the damage that has been done by working together to conserve and protect marine resources.”

Ocean Health

PADI has also solidified relationships with Mission Blue, founded by Sylvia Earle, by joining in her efforts toward the promotion of Hope Spots.

The purpose of Hope Spots is to set aside dedicated ocean areas with the hope that less stress on the environment will reverse negative human impact, promote productivity and prevent further damage.

In addition, PADI is working with Project AWARE to rescue entangled animals from debris, and remove and recycle ghost gear, lost and abandoned fishing gear that causes damage to marine life.

People and Community

Richardson then went on to address the PADI community and the PADI AmbassaDivers™ that have made an impact in their local areas.

Noted PADI AmbassaDivers included Jack Fishman, Ernst Van Der Pol, Edgardo Ochoa and Andre Miller.

“These folks are making an impact and we want to get these stories out,” Richardson said. “The point is to tell the world their stories and invite them in. We want to tell your story, too.”

Richardson then addressed PADI AmbassaDivers that have made a difference in the world of healing and wellness by discussing the PADI Adaptive Techniques Specialty course.

Healing and Wellness

“So many are paying it forward by making diving more accessible and more tangible for more people. In doing so, they are transforming lives and making the impossible, possible,” he said.

To coincide with that message, a short video showcased some pioneers in the PADI Adaptive Techniques Specialty course with appearances by Alana Nichols, Parker Timberland and Leo Morales.

Morales summed up the message perfectly by saying:

“The most important thing is to do what you like to do and have some passion. That’s what scuba diving is for me,” he said. “The ocean gave me back my life.”

LOOKING TO THE FUTURE

As PADI continues to invest in the Four Pillars of Change, education is still the foundation for the future of diving.

By globalizing the education program, the courses will be even more consistent and available in no less than 25 languages across multiple devices. With that, PADI’s goal is to optimize the process for a streamlined experience with long-term success and minimal paperwork.

“We want the user to have a seamless end-to-end consumer journey,” Richardson said.

Before closing, Richardson turned again to the PADI AmbassaDivers in attendance while encouraging future AmbassaDivers to share their stories.

“If we leave a nice footprint as an ancestor, those that go after us will carry that flag toward a sense of self that supersedes what most humans have the opportunity to experience on this planet,” Richardson said.

And with that, the bar was open and the steel drum band played – igniting the perfect start to another successful DEMA Show and a newfound hope for the future.

Drew Richardson Engages Ocean Community at Blue Vision Summit 

PADI CEO Drew Richardson speaks at Blue Vision Summit

PADI President and CEO Drew Richardson took part in the Blue Vision Summit in Washington, DC, USA, last month, speaking about the enhanced role that coastal communities can play in ocean conservation and stewardship. The summit, which brings together ocean conservation leaders, was focused on strengthening a sustainable “blue economy” and addressing challenges of a changing ocean and climate.

PADI CEO Drew Richardson speaks at Blue Vision Summit

“Unquestionably, there are serious and formidable issues threatening the world oceans. That said, I’m a firm believer in engagement, problem identification and mitigation,” Richardson said to the group of 500 scientists, explorers and leaders in attendance. “My life philosophy is to remain optimistic and focused on a ‘future hope.’ In my mind, there is no other option.”

The PADI organization became involved in the Blue Vision Summit to work collaboratively with individuals and organizations toward improving ocean conservation efforts through various approaches, including education and marine recreation. The summit also provides a platform to influence policy and implement ocean health solutions by connecting with change makers and elected officials.

“It was an honor to attend the Blue Vision Summit and engage with so many passionate and committed professionals,” said Richardson. “At PADI, we are recruiting and engaging millions of new divers, training them well to be confident and comfortable, encouraging and enabling them to seek diving adventures and explore the planet’s underwater realm. Divers receive a clear message to pay it forward as good ocean stewards who protect marine life. We look forward to collaborating with like-minded individuals and organizations to achieve these ends.”

Speaking of PADI’s deepened commitment to ocean health and conservation through the Four Pillars of Change program, Richardson said, “We train nearly one million new divers each year who can engage in strategic alliances, have a powerful voice and get involved in real solutions to drive change. PADI Divers are actively becoming as a force for good and driving toward a healthier ocean on local, national and international levels. The PADI organization is committed to being a global, passionate force that creates a preferred future with healthier oceans.”

Note: Read more from Richardson about ocean conservation and advocacy in this recent Forbes article.    

Be Best. Be PADI – The Way The World Learns To Dive®

 

A Message from Drew Richardson, PADI President and CEO

PADI President and CEO

PADI President and CEO

There’s been an exciting change of PADI® ownership to a consortium of conservation-minded family investors. This conglomerate of family wealth investors, based in North America, are run similar to foundations and endowments, who invest long-term in cause-oriented premium brands with dominant market share positions that show steady and consistent growth.

As PADI president and CEO, I’m committed to leading the organization into its next 50 years, as is the entire PADI executive team. Together, we will continue to grow the PADI brand and through our stewardship efforts ensure PADI is not only the best in the world, but also best for the world.

This is a positive transition for the organization as the family wealth investors will hold and nurture PADI for many years. This group is closely aligned with PADI’s mission and supports PADI’s efforts to remain stewards for this amazing brand we all love. The new ownership group includes philanthropists drawn to PADI’s commitment to ocean conservation and preservation. And, most importantly, they respect the organization’s dedication to PADI Member support.

Focus remains on the following global priorities:

  • best-in-class support to ensure PADI Member prosperity and growth
  • new diver acquisition initiatives to attract millions of consumers to the sport and train them to be comfortable and confident divers
  • long-term diver engagement and retention through encouraging divers to explore and seek adventure in the underwater world
  • a deeper purpose vision to inspire all divers to ultimately pay it forward through ocean conservation, marine animal protection, community support, and the healing powers of scuba.

This transition marks the next evolution of the PADI organization and is a positive move for PADI Members and the entire dive industry. As my personal friends, I can confidently say that PADI Founders, John Cronin and Ralph Erickson, would be extremely proud of this next step for the PADI organization and heartened to see that it has transformed into a global force for good for scuba diving and the ocean planet.

I thank you for taking the time to read this message. To all PADI Members, I want to reinforce my personal appreciation of your role and contributions to dive training excellence and aquatic conservation advocacy. You are the heart of the organization and the entire PADI staff remain focused on delivering the best service and support to help you succeed. Together, we are – and will continue to be – The Way the World Learns to Dive® . Be best. Be PADI.

Best personal regards,

Drew Richardson

Drew Signature

President & CEO

PADI Worldwide

PADI President and CEO Dr. Drew Richardson Honored with Diver of the Year Award

Since 1976, PADI Worldwide President and CEO Dr. Drew Richardson has dedicated his life to water safety and diver education. Internationally, Richardson is known as one of the most influential people in diving with a diverse diving portfolio of more than 5000 dives in a variety of environmental conditions and continents including Antarctica. Recognizing his longstanding service and extensive dive industry contributions, the Beneath the Sea show has named Richardson the 2016 Diver of the Year.

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“I’m honored and humbled to receive this recognition as there are so many other more worthy recipients out in the world,” says Richardson. “I’m passionate about diving and I’ve dedicated most of my life to it – to improving dive training to help make divers confident, competent and comfortable underwater. I never get tired of seeing the PADI family change lives with diving, and it happens every day. While this is reward enough, I deeply appreciate this recognition of my contributions to the industry and sport. It’s a great honor.”

DRichardsonMay2015_026-200x300The Diver of the Year Award honors individuals whose presence in the industry have made significant and lasting contributions to the past, present and future of diving. As PADI Worldwide President and Chief Executive Officer, Richardson has led the organization’s strategic direction and leadership team for many years, overseeing its expansion to the largest and most successful dive training organization in the world. Richardson holds undergraduate degrees in Oceanographic Technology and Environmental Science, (with an emphasis in the marine sciences), a graduate degree in Business Administration and a doctorate in Adult Education. His extensive credentials has helped significantly advance PADI’s instructional systems as he oversees the development of every course developed. Today, with Richardson at the helm, PADI’s educational system and training materials are available in 28 languages and used by more than 136,000 diving educators in 175 countries.

A proficient author, Richardson is Editor in Chief of The Undersea Journal. Passionate about diver education and safety, Richardson has published more than 500 articles and papers for the Journal and other organization’s publications including the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society (UHMS), South Pacific Underwater Medicine Society (SPUMS), Recreational Scuba Training Council (RSTC), World RSTC, Divers Alert Network (DAN) and the Diving Equipment and Marketing Association (DEMA). As President of Current Publishing, he helped develop a marine sciences curriculum for national use in high schools. Richardson has also spoken at hundreds of conferences internationally on diving and other marine topics.

Antartica 2008 October DRClose to Richardson’s heart is the critical need for aquatic protection and preservation. In 1989, he helped found and create the Project AWARE Foundation, a 501c (3) non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of the aquatic world and supporting ecosystems. Richardson’s hope is to unite the millions of voices of the global diver family and stand together against the destructive practices threatening our ocean and waterways.

“There’s no group better positioned to defend our ocean than divers,” says Richardson. “We free marine animals from nets and lines. We petition and influence government and corporations to protect and preserve the seas. We clean up debris, assist with research and choose only sustainable seafood. We help and we defend, because we can . . . and because we care.”

The Diver of the Year ceremony will be held at the 2016 Beneath the Sea Show, America’s largest consumer scuba and dive travel show, 1-3 April 2016 at the Meadowland Exposition Center in Secaucus, New Jersey. The show provides attendees with opportunities to connect face-to-face with a variety of industry stakeholders, including dive centers, dive professionals, equipment manufacturers, ocean experts, and new and veteran divers. Visit beneaththesea.org for details.