MDM (Digital Media) , 2009
Nadia Aly’s job sounds like something from a Hollywood movie.
Aly is the CEO and founder of online content provider, Scuba Diver Life. She completed a Master's Degree in Digital Media at The Centre for Digital Media, a collaboration between SFU, BCIT, UBC and Emily Carr University of Art and Design, in 2009.
With an extensive background in social and digital media and a passion for underwater exploration, Aly travels the world’s most beautiful vacation destinations to experience and document diving sites. The site receives roughly 1 million views a month and has one of the largest diving followings in the world.
The secret to her success: hard work and some even harder decisions.
“I was working at Google, starting my day at 8 am and finishing at 8 pm. I liked what I did and the people there but I felt my life was not aligned to who I really am. I just wanted to do what I loved, diving, and that was the one thing I didn’t have time for,” says Aly.
After a short stint as a social media brand executive for the Professional Association of Diving Instructors, Aly eventually decided to leave the office world entirely.
“Right after I quit my job, I called my mom for moral support because I felt very uncertain about my future success. She said, ‘well at least you know what you want to do, and you have a goal,’” says Aly.
That goal: to produce content for a diving website she had been building in her spare time.
“I had the idea for Scuba Diver Life a few years earlier. I had been looking for information on diving and realized that all of the resources were from the 1990s and really outdated. The generation that was running the dive industry was not tech savvy, and I could see there was a real gap,” says Aly.
Aly started to fill that gap by creating practical, relevant and professionally produced digital content—ranging from videos of Jamaican reefs to photos of thumb-sized octopuses—focused on inspiring and informing divers. Aly is regularly contracted by tourism boards from countries like Dominica to produce videos about their local diving sites.
But it’s not all about helping people take the plunge. Her site also features articles and information highlighting ecological threats to educate divers about what they can do to keep the oceans healthy. Aly not only gets to spend her time pursuing her passion, but is helping to ensure that generations after her will get to do the same. And it all started with her graduate program.
“I decided to enter the Masters in Digital Media the very first year the program was offered. It was either that or NYU film school. I’m glad I chose what I did—I gained so many skills in digital media production and business that allowed me to launch my start-up. It was the best thing I ever did,” says Aly.
- Written by Jackie Amsden and the Office of Graduate Studies & Postdoctoral Fellows.
Published in 2015