Doug Bennett the founder and training director for Reef Encounters is running for a position on the NAUI Board of Directors. Doug has had the pleasure of working with numerous dive professionals throughout his career. His diverse background in training, business and finance will bring a unique and long needed steady guiding hand to the NAUI Board and to all its members. Doug is an experienced tech diver and instructor and has been exploring the deeper reached of OKinawa for quite some time. Early experience with sidemount and no mount diving before training existed for these types of diving and equipment was home made or modified from existing items. His first rebreather dives where on an RB80. Finding new innovative ways of teaching and exploring have always been at the core of what Doug has strived to achieve in his career. From developing new techniques and using his college training in Adult Education and Psychology to help design training systems for clients, individuals and shops his quest to give his clients and divers the best training and the most up to date training has always been at the forefront. As the dive industry is in flux and the markets changes NAUI must adapt and change- new courses, new technologies, and new techniques must be embraced and brought forward.
There will be more posted shortly here detailing position statements and more. NAUI members bookmark this page and check frequently for updates.
Doug's Bio and Answers to the official ballot questions from the election committee
Doug diving career started with the decision to get certified while stationed in Okinawa, Japan with the USMC where he was serving as an intelligence analyst. After researching local shops he was attracted to the training ethos espoused by the local NAUI dive shop and signed up for a class. This license was quickly followed by advanced and technical certifications and hundreds of dives exploring reefs, caves and the hundreds of dive spots on Okinawa. Almost one year to the day after being certified Doug attended his ITC and was certified as NAUI instructor #17952. This was the start of a varied and extensive career in the scuba diving industry.
Doug started as an independent instructor and then went on to manage one of the largest shops in the military MWR system and turned it around from not profitable to the most successful shops in the MWR system with over 500 certifications a year. Leaving the MWR system in 1998 he founded Reef Encounters International which is still operating and certifying 100s of NAUI divers every year. Doug continued his training and became a NAUI Course Director and Technical Instructor and now a Course Director Trainer and has run numerous ITC's per year since being certified as an instructor and helped to develop the next generation of NAUI leaders.
Douglas's extensive experience in the dive industry includes acting as the dive safety officer for numerous documentaries and TV productions to include BBC, NHK, Paramount pictures and numerous locally produced travel and nature documentaries. His training career has varied from individual divers, resort level snorkelers, military dive teams, university dive clubs, scientific dive teams and technical divers covering almost all aspects of diving and experience levels and developing training plans and safety protocols for both beach, boat, high current, low visibility and cold water diving. Doug has also worked as a sales representative for numerous dive suppliers to include Sherwood scuba and other smaller suppliers. He has also worked extensively as a consultant with dive shops, resorts and local governments to develop marketing plans, pricing strategies and training plans to maximize profits, increase customer base and achieve higher customer satisfaction. As a founding partner of Resort Consulting International Doug has assisted resorts from Pemba, Zanzibar to the local Okinawan tourist board in developing and implementing strategic marketing and training plans. As a consultant he has worked with small budgets to ones over 20 million dollars, this extensive and varied experience from all aspects of the industry has prepared him for the role of a member of the NAUI Board or Directors to move NAUI into the future. Being based in Asia the fastest growing market for scuba and working with a varied international staff and customer base has allowed Doug to develop a unique perspective on the diving industry.
I have been a NAUI instructor from the beginning – although in my career I have managed and consulted for shops and resorts that offered a myriad of training agencies – I do truly believe that NAUI is special. As the industry has changed over the years NAUI has been stagnant- we are finally starting to see NAUI move forward, we must continue this forward progress. The rollout of NAUI CORE worldwide is paramount to this so all NAUI members can take full advantage of the many benefits of this system. CORE is not the perfect system so we must continue to improve it but getting all of our service centers working together and moving NAUI forward is key to the success of our agency and businesses whether they be large or as small as an independent instructor. Key areas for improvement are:
- Making it mobile friendly
- Continue the translations that were started and continue this until full translations are available
The NAUI board must work closely with our international partners and service centers to develop and implement marketing and outreach programs to bring new members and bring back old members to the NAUI family. The identification of new and emerging markets is paramount to growing NAUI, areas such as China and India are at the center of tourism development and will also be central to growth within the dive industry and for NAUI. NAUI must establish a presence in these emerging markets. As a board member there are three primary areas of importance that must be stressed:
1. Communication with members- there has been too much secrecy and turmoil in the direction of NAUI over the past few years – decision need to be explained and plans as much as possible be made available to the membership. Development of new members and areas much not come at the expense of established long time members, new initiatives do not have to mean the abandonment of long time training partners
2. Development of concrete tasking criteria for development of new materials and business plans for international partners to achieve and then holding folks accountable for results. If results are not achieved in a timely manner than we need to look to making new and more fruitful partnerships. This has been a key area where the board has neglected their duty of providing strategic plans and business needs assessments to our service providers and failed to implement proper oversight and delivery planning.
3. Continued development of training standards to modernize and keep NAUI at the forefront of scuba training and free diving. We must ensure that we do not compromise quality and the NAUI ethos is the pursuit of growth. We must implement systems so that NAUI can capitalize on emerging technologies and trends so that we can regain our position as the leaders in, and stay at the forefront of scuba training. Developing new tech standards to modernize our program is key along with implementing standards to truly show that we as NAUI do truly have the best standards in the industry.
- The NAUI Credo exemplifies many aspects of the what it truly means to be NAUI and why NAUI is special when it comes to scuba training. Many of the niche agencies that have formed over the years have tried to copy aspects of it and have now adopted the love one concept or other areas of our credo but not the whole credo in its entirety. Picking three principle alone is impossible as the credo works as a whole to make NAUI unique. There are some aspects that are most often quoted and spoken about but the whole statement is what makes NAUI unique. We must strive to ensure that the training we offer meets the ethos that the NAUI credo exemplifies and that the next generation of NAUI leaders is instructed in and truly believes in what NAUI stands for. The core of NAUI stems from such beliefs as the loved one concept, academic freedom to design our courses and incorporate various training materials and methods, and the continuing improvement of our training techniques and methods. NAUI's growth will be dependent on this continued improvement and refinement of our training practices, materials and course offering. I have always strived in my personal training to stay at the forefront of technology and teaching techniques and we need to ensure that NAUI does also- but in this pursuit of new technology we must not forget the all important role of the instructor and mentor which is the core of NAUI and the great NAUI leaders that create amazing divers.
- The age old question of does training agency make a difference should be easy for any NAUI instructor to answer. When I first went looking to get certified I visited various schools from agencies such as SSI, IDEA and PADI- I choose the NAUI shop. It was one of the smaller shops but the ethos expressed by the agency and the instructors at that shop made me chose them and I have been very happy with that choice for 20+ years now and all the things I have seen in my varied career in the industry have reinforced that choice. Agency culture dictates how people teach and what drives them to teach- NAUI's foundation of the loved one concept, stressing rescue training, true student centered learning and skills development make for better divers and instructors.
- Member retention and attracting new members is critical for the growth of NAUI as a member of the board there are various steps that need to be taken. The first step to member retention and to attract old members back is communication. There have been many positive changes in NAUI over the past two years and some not carried out in the best fashion. We need to communicate to members and potential members why certain decisions where made and how we plan on moving forward. When controversial decisions are made both sides need to understand why the final decision was reached and how it was reached. Next we have to personally reach out to members and possible new members to explain what NAUI has done in the past few years to become relevant in the scuba industry again. NAUI has been stagnant for years and has lost members and potential members because of that fact. We need to actively reach out to these past members and educate new ones on the changes that have been made and why NAUI is the right choice going forward. My business background and successful consulting career will also allow me to show new members the economic benefit of going NAUI along with the other intrinsic benefits of being involved in an organization that gives you a say in how you train.