Staff Spotlight: Jess Graves

Bira Project Co-Manager


Jess grew up in Wales before moving to London to train and work as a dancer, then dance teacher. She first started diving 2017 and eventually joined the IOP programme as a Research intern in 2022. A year later, she was back on the team at Bira as an instructor, which she is doing alongside a degree in Geography and Environmental Science.


What is your favorite travel memory?

My favourite travel memory is gazing up at a sky that was unspeakably full of stars on my first night of campervanning in Australia with Ben. I love the sense of being tiny in a vast and wild world, full of possibility, wonder and the best company. We were staying in a pub beer garden and had just met the kindest landlady who gave us insider advice on secret, glorious spots for whale watching. Invaluable!

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

It has become second-nature to understand certain things cannot be changed and we have to work around. The weather and the tides are the most obvious example when working in the sea. We have to be ready to change our plans and dive sites, and always have a back-up plan for achieving what we need to.

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

Emma, who was an intern at the same time as me, returned just as I came back to work in Bira. It was amazing hearing about her continued passion and work towards ocean conservation. For example, she had spent some time in Thailand building and installing artificial reefs, which is a wonderful incentive.

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

I actually did go on a programme offered by Indo Ocean Project - the Researcher programme, that runs for 6 weeks. My diving improved enormously as I got used to having tasks to complete on each dive - roving surveys, BRUV drops, observing coral health etc. I learned so much about this beautiful ecosystem and how to contribute to protecting it.

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

Indo Ocean Project delivers such a thorough divemaster training, going way beyond the basic requirements of the course, and providing a rich and varied programme of scientific diving and ecology. All the interns leave more than prepared to work in the dive industry and conservation. They also have an amazing and enriching time as a team.

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

I believe that everyone in a company can learn from everyone else - from the director to the newest intern. We are so lucky at Indo Ocean Project to have a wealth of knowledge from all walks of life and we try to listen and learn from this to constantly be able to improve. This means that good, open and thoughtful communication is vital for a happy and fulfilled group.