Gabrielle Nydam is President at Contiki Canada. With over a decade in the industry, Gabrielle has worked in various roles within the tourism industry and has travelled extensively across the globe. Most recently with ME to WE, a social enterprise focused on culturally immersive volunteer travel, she oversaw the creation and growth of the travel partnership division. Prior to joining ME to WE, Gabrielle spent seven years with Kensington Tours, developing luxury adventure travel products and growing the company as Director of Sales. Gabrielle holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM)’s School of Tourism Management. Her passion for exploration, sustainability, immersive cultural experiences and overall beauty of travel permeates her leadership style at Contiki. She inspires Millennials to travel the world, to tread lightly and with no regrets.
My first job ever was… Teaching sailing in the summer. I absolutely loved to be out in the water all day, coaching kids and adults to overcome their fears. I would rig a boat and let the wind take you away. It was pure magic.
I chose my career path because… I was raised with a sense of adventure and exploration, and always to challenge yourself. I embarked on some pretty life-changing trips when I was young, and they changed me. That is the reason why I wanted to be part of that story for others.
My proudest accomplishment is… Being part of an entrepreneurial start up and seeing it flourish and grow, making a mark on what that company will become. I worked hard and learned a lot. It was a wonderful experience.
My boldest move to date was… I took a year off before university to learn to dive and work in the British Virgin Islands. That changed everything. When I returned home, because of my time away, I actually shifted my degree from oceanography to business. The rest is history.
I surprise people when I tell them… My age. Not because I don’t act young, I do sometimes, but because of the amount of travel I’ve done and my work experience. It’s also because of my love for a PNL (profit and loss) statement – that usually surprises a lot of people.
My best advice to people starting out their career is… Challenge everything. That means ask questions, be curious and don’t be afraid to make an impact. It’s not always easy to take the road less taken, but it’s truly rewarding when you know you deserved it. You learn so much along the way.
My best advice from a mentor was… Be present, whether that be at work or home. It’s easy to get busy, but always be there for your team or your friends and family. Be physically present in the office as much as you can and be accessible.
“Ask questions, be curious and don’t be afraid to make an impact.”
I would tell my 20-year old self… Take your time, it will all work out. When you’re in your twenties, time seems to fly by. Don’t worry about social timelines, just do what feels right, and most importantly, stay true to yourself.
My biggest setback was… Dyslexia. I grew up bilingual and was late to diagnose it.
I overcame it by… Time and transparency. I let people know I struggle with writing and it might take me longer. Kindness and understanding in the people that surround me is what told me to not let it slow me down.
Work/life balance is… Complicated. I’ve learned that you get back as much as you give. Put your family and friend first.
If you googled me, you still wouldn’t know… I’m a foodie at heart, but I don’t take enough foodstagrams to show it.
I stay inspired by… Traveling the world and meeting the people in it. I find authentic connections with like-minded human beings extremely motivating and it re-energizes me. I try to surround myself with great people, inspiring mentors, friends and colleagues.
The future excites me because… There is so much hope in Canadian youth. The next generation will surprise us.
My next step is… Sustainable travel has always been important to me, and it’s one of the core reasons why I dove into the travel industry. In my past work, I’ve learnt that in order to truly make a difference, it doesn’t happen unless leaders in the industry step in and make a difference. We want to bring visibility to the cause through Contiki’s partnership with the TreadRight Foundation via our Contiki Cares program, and the other great travel operators that care. It’s important we make a difference together.