South Africa –
South Africa’s best IDC, Mandy Zietsman at Scubaversity
Doing your Instructor Development where you can see the Big Five Above and Below! Africa will enthral you with its beauty and insane variety of diving. You can experience kelp diving with Seals, Great Whites and interact with “My Octopus Teachers” friends – explore the many wrecks stacked around the shore. Or visit the infamous Aliwal Shoal where you will be mesmerised with Raggies, Tigers, Black Tips as well as more wrecks. Sodwana Bay is stcaked with Coral Wonders and the best is that just on our border you can experience Mozambique!
Mandy started diving in 1992. She is passionate about building safe and comfortable divers and has always been deeply involved in Instructor training and growing new instructors into competent and confident instructors.
Mandy is passionate about teaching. She has a wonderful way of transferring skills to students in a fun and safe manner. Her particular strength is assisting students who have encountered problems in diving as she is excellent at adaptive teaching techniques. She is able to relate to young and old and is passionate about growing diving in Southern Africa.
Mandy’s duties as owner of Scubaversity are varied. She runs a successful internship programme during which she teaches her interns how to run a business, do travel, basic accounting procedures, maintenance, cylinder procedures, sales, marketing, design etc. This is completed at the same time as becoming a PADI Instructor. She oversees the smooth running of Scubaversity itself and her responsibilities include accounting processes, supervising maintenance at the dive centre, sales of dive gear and PADI courses. Mandy is very environmentally conscious of the impact we all have on nature. Mandy has assisted me on numerous Project AWARE courses, including beach clean-ups, conservation of sharks, and conservation of Sodwana Bay and other marine protected areas.
Mandy also has a passion for the diving industry as a whole. She co-founded the dive centre owner’s breakfast club in Johannesburg and being instrumental in organising several national dive events for the industry. Mandy is highly respected as a dive owner and as a scuba instructor.
-Platinum Course Director
-Staff of 9 including 1 Course Director
-6 IDCs per year
-30 years diving experience
-1000 + PADI certifications
-10 + PADI Instructor Specialties
What is the philosophy of your company?
Our company focuses on displaying the highest standard of work ethic, enabling our instructors and divemaster’s to work and teach passionately and safely within a positive environment. We do not believe in short cuts, and our pure focus is to make you a safe, comfortable, and competent instructor and not just to pass the examination.
I did my NAUI open water 1 & 2 in February 1992. In 1995 I went backpacking through Europe and worked in London while travelling. On return I started diving with my diving club again and did my first course as a PADI Diver – Advanced Plus. I met my life partner then and as he was a PADI instructor the natural route was for me to start out on my professional career with PADI. I found my love for diving once I became a professional, teaching diving was truly mind blowing. The fact that I had to ability to change peoples lives and the reward I got from teaching made it a non-brainer to stay in the industry.
We built Scubaversity from scratch. Today Scubaversity is one of the busiest and most successful dive operations in South Africa! Through our love of diving and a lot of hard work, we have created an amazing business that provides all the great experiences diving offered us, to hundreds of others. And because diving has been so good to us, we decide to develop the Instructor program.
At the moment I have a management team running Scubaversity while I focus on the Instructor Development side. I am actively involved with the industry through the Breakfast Club initiative in Gauteng where we are always trying to find ways to grow the dive industry. Diving is my life, and I cannot imagine what else I can possibly do that would give me the lifestyle I am living.
Has anything funny happened during your IDC courses?
I firmly believe your IDC should be an experience you will never forget and the one way of doing it is making sure you have fun. There is always laughter on our IDC’s , the new dry skills workshops are really the times where we laugh until we cry with all the acting skills above the water.
Specifically, one candidate as a student was doing the alternate air source skill – but had an Air2 as an octo, once the skill was complete instead of replacing the Air2 he placed his snorkel in his mouth. It took a couple of seconds for him to realise this – luckily he had 4 instructors holding their octo’s in front of his face.
What is the reason people should take their IDC with you?
Your success is our success, we believe that every individual has their own pace at learning and start a different levels. So, if I have to be in the pool with you for more days, or study with you until midnight – that is what I will do. Other than that South Africa has such a diverse diving and cultural experience to offer, you can not make a mistake!
I only became a Course Director in 2020 however I have been training Instructors with my partner since 2010. Since then, I became a silver and then a Platinum course director. I believe that having done my CDTC training recently gives me the advantage of looking at training with a fresh eye and excitement.
What are your personal diving obsessions?
Buoyancy, buoyancy, buoyancy. Having the patience to teach someone good buoyancy skills can truly make the difference in their diving future. I believe this is the most important skill Instructors can learn to teach their students. Personally, I love teaching students’ buoyancy skills.
What type of diving do you like the best?
I am all for colour, calm, drift dives where you can just float along with the ocean and experience the peace it can give, although I am also a big fan of a good deep blue dive, where there is really not much to see but the wide expanse of the ocean – closest to being in space most people can ever get.
What else do you like (non diving)?
I love socialising with friends, customers, and family, sitting around a bonfire on our beach, listening to music with good company is where life stands still. I do love to read, try my hand at art every now again, listening to music and fixing stuff or refurbishment projects. Or maybe just chill and Netflix binge.
Why do you love being a PADI Course Director?
I love the end result when you see your candidates all over the world, living the dream that being an instructor gives. Seeing their success is the biggest high you can get as a person.
Quote from a previous student
She is really invested in each candidate’s success, often spending many extra hours with candidates who need additional support. I feel she strikes the right balance between keeping the IDC professional and rigorous, but also a lot of fun. She keeps the programme flexible and adapts to each groups requirements as well as the dive centres schedule and commitments. Her insights shared with candidates of her long experience in the dive industry is also invaluable.
What does the future hold for you?
I am hoping to expand my program into running longer-term full-time internships at the various venues in South Africa – and placing SA on the map as one of the best places to do your Instructor Program.
Where are we?
Find us on our Website: www.scubaversity.co.za