Mike Poggione: SDI Instructor Trainer Ambassador

Hi, I am Mike Poggione.  I’m honored to be part of this program.

What was the first dive you did and how did it influence you to start a career in the diving industry?

My first dive was the shipwreck Sweepstakes in Tobermory, Ontario. I got hooked. The Great Lakes offer some of the best (actually, the best) shipwreck diving in the world. Born and raised in Michigan—the Great Lakes are my playground. I was able to go out almost every weekend in the summer and dive the wrecks of Lake Huron. It was only natural that I would progress through the ranks and then want to share my experiences with others.

What do you believe is the most important trait of a professional educator and why?

Communication. An instructor needs a good attitude, mastery of in-water skills, public speaking ability, organization and patience. But the ability to communicate with students is paramount—through email, phone calls and face-to-face. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your students. A simple phone call telling them where to meet you the morning of the dive can make all the difference in the world.

What is your favorite SDI class to teach and why?  

I could just say Wreck Diver, since shipwrecks are my favorite dives. But the SDI Advanced Adventure course is always a rewarding experience. The audience for this class is a big reason I like this class. Typically, it’s a diver that has realized that they like diving and wants to figure out what’s next for them. As an instructor, it’s the equivalent of a chef’s choice dinner. You have only two dives that you need to cover and then you get to pick three more dives to give this diver a better picture of what they can do as an underwater explore

What is a bucket list dive you still have?

The shipwrecks of Scapa Flow off the Orkney Islands, Scotland. I’m a history enthusiast and I love wreck diving so this is a no-brainer.

What is one bit of advice you would give to a perspective Instructor candidate about to embark on becoming an SDI Instructor?

You can never have enough experience. Dive more and help other professionals—soak up the experiences. The more you’re in the water the better. Make sure that time is spent well—intern under an instructor you respect. Shadow them and ask questions, you might be surprised by how many things you thought were just random choices were deliberate actions by the instructor.