Working at a Dive Shop, Not a “Job”

Many people I know, consider their careers more “jobs” with the accompanying drudgery of the work they do, however, I am an example of how we can find ways to combine the activities we love with our skills into a career that is no longer a job.

I was lucky enough to find Ocean First, in Boulder, CO as my dive shop of choice when searching out locations to train and get certified with. I frequently tell my friends that I should have purchased a lottery ticket that day! I consider myself extremely fortunate that the sheer luck of the draw led me to this organization and the endeavors that have become key to how I now live my life.

I worked for many years in the Information Technology world as a Chief Information Officer (CIO) while running my own self-defence training business. When I headed down the path to becoming a scuba instructor many years ago, I could see a vision of melding training (which I truly enjoy) with scuba (which I am very passionate about), along with my technical and management background. In addition to my self-defence business and my management consulting work as a fractional CIO, I fill 3 roles at the dive shop.

Photo courtesy of Mike Pivacek | Ocean First

First and foremost, I am an Open Water Scuba Instructor, and it is one of the most fulfilling things I do introducing people to the underwater world and opening them up to explore new places and adventures. To me, helping the students who struggle is more rewarding than the students who take to it naturally. Just last week I did a private pool session with a 14-year-old who had a trip scheduled to get certified and he really struggled removing and replacing his mask underwater and he was worried about completing the certification to the point that he was almost in tears in the pool. His greatest desire was to see a great white shark in open water. When I shared a couple of pictures I took at Guadalupe Island, he gathered all his fortitude and successfully completed the skill at least 10 times flawlessly and left with a huge grin and renewed confidence.

Photo courtesy of Mike Pivacek | Ocean First

We also have developed a program called TIDES (teaching interdisciplinary and experiential science) in which we teach marine sciences to middle schoolers using scuba as the vehicle to capture and sustain their interest. I am fortunate enough to have been chosen to also become a TIDES instructor now bringing a 2nd branch of my career into the mix.

Photo courtesy of Mike Pivacek | Ocean First

Finally, one of my close friends is the Chief Operating Officer (COO) for Ocean First Education (OFE) who are tasked with the development and deployment of educational content for a variety of marine education classes (including the TIDES program). In speaking with her, OFE was experiencing substantial technology issues inhibiting the growth of the business. I offered my services as a fractional Chief Information Officer (CIO) to assist in a strategic plan as well as bringing in the right people to bolster the technology and processes. I had now successfully combined my desire to teach, my desire to work with kids, and my IT expertise into one “career” which is no longer a job.

Photo courtesy of Mike Pivacek | Ocean First

Most recently, I participated in a technical diving program, training with one of my fellow instructors. In May, we dove to 148 feet with the next goal being to get to 200 feet. Undertaking technical diving made me aware that there was really one best choice for a computer at which time I was determined to go with the Perdix from Shearwater.

We spent time “tuning up” our sidemount skills on a couple of recreational dives prior to deep dives.

Photo courtesy of Mike Pivacek | Ocean First

On deco after 150’ dive in Cozumel. Photo courtesy of Mike Pivacek | Ocean First

In addition to our “formal” offerings, we actively seek out and promote environmentally oriented volunteer activities, and our team is recognized internally for participating in these opportunities. Recently, I was offered the opportunity to participate as a member of a research team sponsored by the Colorado Parks and Open Space Biology team to search for Rocky Mountain Capshell snails in one of our high mountain lakes.

The Rocky Mountain Capshell Snail (acroloxus coloradensis) is a species of limpet, related to snails. While not considered endangered, it is considered “sensitive” by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The global heritage status rank is imperiled to critically imperiled. They range from western Canada to Montana and into Colorado where a single specimen was found in 1989 in Peterson Lake, where we dove. Prior to that, densities of 72/square meter were found.

Photo courtesy of Mike Pivacek | Ocean First

While the conditions were “cool” to say the least (8 degrees Celsius), we were not successful this time. It was, however, incredibly gratifying to be part of a team associated with these activities on behalf of our planet and environment. I am looking forward to returning to do more searching when the water levels are a bit better!

Photo courtesy of Mike Pivacek | Ocean First

I have been extremely fortunate to be able to combine my technical and management skills to craft a career that allows me the opportunity to socialize with people I enjoy, travel to some of the coolest places in the world, and contribute to ongoing education directed toward protecting and preserving our oceans.

Photo courtesy of Mike Pivacek | Ocean First


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Upcoming Dive Shows

Shearwater Research will be at the following dive shows:


Read More / Apr 19-21

TDEX Thailand Dive Expo

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