At Polk State College, students have access to professors with extensive professional experience, published research, and international industry esteem. One of those faculty members is business professor Paul Howe, who brings decades of experience as a business owner, marketing specialist, and educator to his classroom and international stage.
On Nov. 3, Howe will lead three seminars at the Diving Equipment & Marketing Association (DEMA) Show 2022 at the Orange County Convention Center, which will bring up to 18,000 individuals from around the world to Orlando. It covers topics including advertising strategies, budgeting, and evaluation. Developing a loyalty program; and maximizing marketing budgets by preparing and distributing press releases.
“I’ve been lucky enough to work in the industry a little bit. I didn’t have a degree early in my career, so when they couldn’t put me in management, I went and started my own business. ‘I don’t have a degree, so I shouldn’t go into business?’ I always thought so. Of course not.” Howe said.
This seed was initially planted when Howe worked as a scuba instructor “for fun. One of his first clients was impressed by Howe’s professionalism and suggested he go into business.
Howe opened a New York dive shop and secured contracts with major clients including Cornell University and Ithaca College. He has demonstrated the popularity of his business by using widely successful marketing tools such as loyalty programs and press releases.
Driven by his real-world experience and the drive to make his daughter proud, Howe returned to school at age 30 to build on his entrepreneurial knowledge and hone his marketing skills. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in hospitality management from Tompkins Cortland Community College, Rochester Institute of Technology, and a doctorate in organization and management from Capella University.
After 10 years in business, he sold the store in 1994 and became the Marketing Director of Divi Resorts. He also completed his dissertation that same year, Diver Profile, on the Caribbean island of Bonaire, where diving is a major tourism market, Howe noted. Nearly 20 years later, Howe wants to revisit his school in Bonaire and take Polk State students with him.
“I want our students to say, ‘This is what I did in college,’ and point them to real-world experience and research.”
“Bonaire doesn’t have white-sand beaches, but the diving is amazing and it’s their main attraction to attract tourism,” Howe said. “Industry leaders out there are looking for long-term research and we can get students to work on research and collaborate on writing papers.”
Howe and his colleague Professor Herbert Nold have endowed teaching chair awards to help fund this initiative. In addition, Howe is traveling to Bangkok for an international business and hospitality conference, where he will network with individuals and organizations offering research opportunities for this project.
“I want to do this for the students,” he said. “I want our students to say, ‘This is what I did in college,’ and point them to real-world experience and research.”
In addition to speaking engagements in Bangkok and most recently in Orlando, Howe has presented at various conferences, including Travel Agent Magazine’s National Conference, Air Jamaica’s Caribbean Conference, and International Travel and Tourism Educators. His work has been published in the Boston Globe, Vermont Magazine, Skin Diver Magazine and Northeast Diving Journal.
When asked what his biggest accomplishment is, he said seeing the progress of his students is the most rewarding.
“With a lot of industry experience, I look at what I wasn’t prepared for when I went into business and try to better prepare my students with the knowledge and skills they need,” Howe said. “I share with my students the professional soft skills they learned in the industry and how they can develop them now. Writing is the #1 critical skill. Being on time is important. I also tell them if you can make your passion your calling, you will find something you love.”
The latter led Howe to where he is today.
“It all comes back to diving, but I can’t plan for it,” he says of his career, which has included a stint as director of education for American Travel Agents, which eventually led to his full career. A tenured faculty position with Polk State and five adjunct positions at other institutions. “We don’t teach to get rich. We do it because we love it, and that’s why I teach it.
“It’s rewarding to see students grow and find their passions.”
“It’s rewarding to see students grow and find their passion,” added Howe. “I’ve been blessed to travel and live abroad a lot, and I tell students that they can have the same thing and their own experience. I tell them that I know what your education can do for you, and I know that you can get a good quality education here. [at Polk State College]He said.