Staff Spotlight: Lauren Sparks

Founder & Project Manager


Lauren has been working in diving and research for over a decade. Originally from Canada, she left home to travel and work as a dive instructor before returning to school for marine biology. She is the owner of Nomads Diving in Indonesia and the founder of Indonesian NGO Indo Ocean Project.

What is your favorite travel memory?

I have been traveling for 12 years now. I spent 2 years working on small sailing yachts in the Caribbean, busy dive centres in South East Asia, and research projects in the South Pacific. To pick one is difficult! I guess I would say the 10 day live-aboard cruise I did in Raja Ampat in eastern Indonesia where I was able to explore Misool National Park.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

Of course! This project reflects the the passions of the people who work for it and its growth and development are directly related to those individuals. In reverse, we have grown with it with new bigger goals, both personal and professional. I myself spent most of the dive career as a dive instructor or marine biologist, so moving into a management roll in both my dive centre and the NGO meant taking on all new tasks like accounting, staff management, and project development.

The ocean is our playground; the possibilities for growth and betterment are endless.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

We train Dive Masters. This means we get to interact with a high caliber of students who don't take diving or marine science lightly and mostly go on to pursue a career in either field. We train our interns to function independently or in small groups to complete research tasks. It is always an amazing feeling for your dive masters to go on to instructor level and start working in the industry. We have hired 5 of our graduates as full time staff at various projects because we just couldn't let them go. Two interns are returning to us to complete their Masters and PhD thesis using the data we have published in peer review journals. Making our data count is our number one priority.

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

We have a few projects around Indonesia that all run the same program: the combination of the Dive Master and Research Diver training programs. All three locations use similar methodology to cross compare regions of study. However, they also have their individual draws. Penida Project has a resident year round manta rays and a seasonal mola mola ID project. Bunaken Project has a sea grass bed assessment and dugong project. Bira focuses on shark conservation with one of the top shark diving locations in the country. Each project has something different, depending on our students interests.

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

What started out as a one woman show in July 2017 has developed into a 3 project location, 7 full time staff operation. But our team really came together with the arrival of our board member and lead scientist, Pascal Sebastian, in November 2018. He comes from Indonesia's capital city and holds a Masters degree from James Cook University. His expertise and attitude brought Indo Ocean Project to the next level.

Since his arrival, we have been able to complete a formal agreement with the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Affairs department in Bali, collaborating with them to make every dive count. The day we first presented our project proposal to the marine park and government officials was a proud day for us. Getting the data into the hands that really make a difference.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

Cultivate innovation and creativity among staff and interns. They are the heart and soul of this project and so many amazing developments have happened because of them. So I would say openness to growth is the biggest factor in the success of our project. The original idea of Indo Ocean Project in 2017 and the actual project running now has changed so much, depending on the demand of our students and research required in the area, that it inspires all staff members to follow their passions and doing my best to make that a reality with grants and budget.