Meet Dive Ninja’s PADI Course Director, Anders Heegaard
Your Instructor Development Course Director is more than another instructor – they will be a mentor, coach, and friend during this transformative journey and thereafter. There are times during the IDC when you might dislike your course director because they are pushing you to be an even better instructor candidate, but I guarantee they are the first person that you celebrate with when you pass that Instructor Examination! So let’s get to know the human that is going to do everything in his power during your couple weeks together in Cabo San Lucas to get you to where you want to be in your professional diving career. Let’s take a little look at Team Ninja’s super accomplished Course Director, Anders Heegaard; who he is, how he got here, and why you definitely want him as your Course Director for the PADI IDC in Mexico!
From the Big City to the Diving Industry
In his early 20’s, Anders had a successful career at a marketing firm in Copenhagen with all the perks of big city living- nice car, salary, luxury lifestyle, nightlife, etc. However, the rat race had its costs- working 16 hour days, stress, unhealthy habits, and burnout to name a few. When he was 23, he did his PADI Open Water Course in the North Sea while working in Copenhagen. “Everybody thought I was crazy, the water was freezing, but it was a way for me to temporarily escape the rat race, zone out of work, not bound by the limits of gravity,” explains Heegaard. This temporary fix didn’t last, and it wasn’t long before he bought a flight to Thailand to become a PADI Divemaster in Koh Tao. “I thought I just needed a break, maybe 6 months or a year, but the diving industry allowed me to see beyond the hamster wheel, to create a different life. It was the hardest and the best thing I ever did. To leave everything behind- my family, my stuff, my house and car, and the whole lifestyle to start a new life,” says Anders.
The Journey to the Top
Originally, Anders only wanted to become a divemaster, but then things changed. “I found myself moving up to the next level in diving because it was a challenge, and I needed to keep challenging myself,” says Anders. After teaching thousands of introductory PADI courses, he moved to Utila, Honduras where he became a PADI IDC Staff Instructor. Three years later he went on to Turks and Caicos to become a Course Director. He then worked as a Course Director at Pro Dive Mexico, where he also lead technical cave diving training and exploration all over the Yucatan Peninsula. But after a few years someone at PADI noticed his talents and offered Anders the role as the Regional Manager for PADI of Sub-Saharan Africa as well as an IE examiner. (NOTE: It’s always good to have a former examiner preparing you for the PADI IE! Especially one that is also an accomplished Course Director because they know both sides of the instructor exams and can help you prepare. ) Now, 15 years since he first did his Divemaster in Thailand, he holds more than 20 instructor trainer specialties including DSAT and Technical Diving Instructor Trainer!
Creating a Unique IDC Experience with Dive Ninjas
“Other IDC’s with big groups of 12-15 people are these cookie-cutter processes that lose the quality and personal touch of working with small groups of individuals. I decided to work with Dive Ninjas based solely on the premise that we would develop a personalized IDC, that is conservation-focused, and only small groups”, says Anders of the unique IDC program that he co-created with Dive Ninja Founder, Jay Clue, right here in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. So, why is conservation such an integral part of this IDC program?
“Conservation is important at all levels, however, if you give instructors a foundation for conservation you will reach a much bigger target. Those that have the opportunity, and passion to teach others about the ocean need to be educated on how to protect it. “
The Best Part of Being a PADI Course Director
After hearing Anders’ story, you won’t be surprised to hear his answer when I asked him his favorite part of teaching an IDC:
“Definitely the Transformation. From the first day to the last day, working with the students every day to improve their skills, theory, and knowledge of ocean conservation. To see the transformation from the student they start as on their first day to the instructor they become on the final day, and the confidence it gives them is my favorite part. Transforming people and giving them the opportunity to change their lives, like I was able to change mine.”
Passion to create a better future for our oceans, and his dedication to each individual student as well as the diving community as a whole, are the reasons why Anders is the PADI Platinum Course Director that he is today, not to mention his 100 percent pass rate at the Instructor Examinations. Nowadays, when he isn’t teaching an IDC you can find Anders enjoying Los Cabos’ remote beaches with his family, paragliding, camping under the stars, or eating at his favorite downtown sushi joint: The Fish!
Anders Heegaard Credentials
• PADI Platinum Course Director
• 20 PADI Instructor Trainer Specialties
• 100% Pass Rate at Instructor Exams
• Teaches in: English, Spanish, Danish and German
• Emergency First Responder Instructor trainer
• Care For Children Instructor trainer
• PADI/DSAT TEC Instructor
• PADI/DSAT TEC Instructor Trainer
• PADI/DSAT Trimix Instructor
• PADI/DSAT Trimix Instructor Trainer
• PADI/DSAT TEC Sidemount Instructor
• PADI/DSAT Gas Blender Instructor
• PADI/DSAT Gas Blender Instructor Trainer
• PADI Sidemount Instuctor
• PADI Sidemount Instuctor Trainer
• TDI Advanced Nitrox Instructor
• TDI Decompression Procedures Instructor
• TDI Extended Range Instructor
• TDI Trimix Instructor
• TDI Cavern Instructor
• TDI Intro to Cave Instructor
• TDI Full Cave Instructor
• IANTD Full Cave Diver
• IANTD Advanced Cave Sidemount Diver
AIDA Apnea 1 star Free Diver