At Polk State, students have access to professors with extensive professional experience, published research, and international industry renown. One of the faculty members is business professor Paul Howe, who brings decades of experience as a business owner, marketing expert and educator to the classroom and the international stage.
Howe will host three workshops at the 2022 Diving Equipment and Marketing Association (DEMA) Show at the Orange County Convention Center on November 3, which will bring as many as 18,000 people from around the world to Orlando. He will speak on topics such as advertising strategy, budgeting, and evaluation; developing loyalty programs; and maximizing marketing budgets by developing and disseminating press releases.
“I’ve been lucky enough to work a lot in this industry. Early in my career they wouldn’t let me in management because I didn’t have a degree, so I started my own business. I kept thinking, ‘Because I don’t have a degree’ , then shouldn’t I be in business?’ Of course not,” Howe said.
This seed was planted “for fun” back when Howe was a diving instructor. One of his first clients was impressed with Howe’s professionalism and advised him to start the business.
Howe went on to open a dive shop in New York and has contracts with big clients such as Cornell University and Ithaca College. He is also known for using widely successful marketing tools such as loyalty programs and press releases to promote his business.
With his real-world experience and drive to make his daughter proud, Howe returned to school at age 30 to solidify his entrepreneurial knowledge and marketing skills. He holds an associate’s degree from Tompkin Scott Land Community College, a bachelor’s and master’s degree in hospitality management from Rochester Institute of Technology, and a Ph.D. in Organization and Management from Capella University.
After 10 years in business, he sold his store in 1994 and became Marketing Director of Divi Resorts. Howe explained that that year he also completed his dissertation, which produced a diver profile on the Caribbean island of Bonaire, where diving is a major market for tourism. Nearly 20 years later, Howe is eager to relive his studies in Bonaire and take students from Polk State.
“I want our students to be able to say, ‘This is what I did in college,’ and point to real-world experience and research.”
“Bonaire doesn’t have white sand beaches, but the diving is incredible, and that’s their main focus for attracting tourism,” Howe said. “Industry leaders out there are looking for longitudinal studies where we can take students on research and collaborate on papers.”
Howe and Associates Professor Herbert Nold of the School of Business has awarded a Teaching Chair to help fund the programme. Additionally, Howe will travel to Bangkok for an international business and hospitality conference, where he will network with individuals and organizations that can provide research funding opportunities for the project.
“I want to do this for the students,” he said. “I want our students to be able to say, ‘This is what I did in college,’ and point to real-world experience and research.”
In addition to Bangkok and his upcoming speaking engagements in Orlando, Howe has presented at various conferences including Travel Agency Magazine National Conference, Air Jamaica Caribbean Conference and International Association of Travel and Tourism Educators. His work has also been published in The Boston Globe, Vermont Magazine, Skin Diver Magazine, and Northeast Diving Magazine.
When asked what his greatest achievement was, he shared that it was most rewarding to see his students make progress.
“With a wealth of industry experience, I’ve learned about things I wasn’t prepared for when I entered the business world, and I work to better prepare my students for the knowledge and skills they need,” Howe said. Students share professional soft skills learned in the industry and how they are now starting to develop them. Writing is the number one key skill. Being on time is important. I also tell them that if you can make your hobby your career, You’ll find something you love to do.”
The latter brought Howe to where he is today.
“It all came back to diving, but I couldn’t plan for it,” he said of his career, which also included being the director of education for the American Association of Travel Agents, and which eventually made him fully–in Polk State University holds faculty positions and five part-time positions at other institutions. “We don’t teach to get rich. We do it because we have a passion, and that’s why I teach.”
“It’s rewarding to see students make progress and see them discover their passions.”
“It’s rewarding to see students make progress and see them find their passion,” Howe added. “I have been fortunate enough to travel and live abroad extensively, and I tell students they can have the same things and their own experiences. I tell them I know what your education can do for you, and I know they can get it here high quality education [at Polk State College]. “