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2019 Top 10 30-Something: Melissa Reiter

Top Ten 30 Somethings

Photo: Melissa Reiter with her Top 10 30-Something award at ACC's 2019 Corporate Counsel University.

Melissa Reiter, an avid traveler, was immediately drawn to G Adventures, an adventure travel company based in Toronto with a mission to provide authentic and sustainable experiences while giving back to local communities. As director of legal and privacy officer, Reiter has expanded the company’s global presence without compromising its values.

G Adventures operates in more than 100 countries, and she has played a crucial role in its expansion into new markets. The 35-year-old managed the acquisition of five UK-based travel brands in two large transactions, which increased the company’s revenue to over US$500 million and brought the total number of global staff to 2,500.

Her responsibilities included the review of the acquired companies’ existing contracts as well as their compliance and regulatory processes. She now oversees the legal affairs of the expanded company, which includes anticipating and responding to challenges.

Reiter was faced with the challenge of reducing the company’s environmental footprint and making contract processes more efficient. Her solution was to transition G Adventures from a paper-based, manual contracting model to a digital, automated model by implementing DocuSign for the sales and buying teams. Contract review time dropped from two to three weeks to one to two business days. Spend dropped dramatically as well, and G Adventures fulfilled its goal of going paperless.

The company’s nonprofit partner, the Planeterra Foundation, ensures that G Adventures’ tours have a positive impact on local communities. The company is also known for its wholesome work culture. In 2019, the company made the 2019 Best Workplaces™ in Canada, recognized as a leader in employee mental health, giving back, inclusion, and gender parity.

Reiter maintains the strong, positive work culture by building relationships and trust within the various departments. She is committed to making legal concepts accessible, creating templates and guidelines to “set up everyone for success where legal matters are involved.” She regularly teaches lunch-and-learns on topics like marketing and privacy law, and she created a privacy training program for G Adventures’ global team.

Reiter’s mission to make legal matters approachable also extends to her pro bono work. As a lawyer project mentor since 2014 for the Pro Bono Students Canada, she has worked on the Association for Media Literacy’s End User License Agreement Program. This program translates terms and conditions for social media platforms like Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram into plain language for kids and teens. Its work includes making posters and classroom tools so students can understand their social media IP and privacy rights.

In her other community work, Reiter focuses on the overlap of legal and business. She is actively involved in the “General Counsel Docket,” an event series for in-house counsel to exchange ideas on legal-business portfolios. She brings this interest in merging legal and business to G Adventures as part of its Innovation Committee.

Based on the belief that anyone can have a great idea, the committee provides an avenue to express the idea and implement it. By being involved, Reiter counters the notion that lawyers hinder innovation. “I help them troubleshoot their ideas and move them along. They get the legal view on things in at an early stage so that we can help the idea succeed,” she says. Reiter most enjoys being able to see the entire lifecycle of an idea — being involved from its inception through its completion.

It’s not unlike planning for a long vacation and eagerly anticipating it. Even when there are challenges thrown in along the way, it’s still exciting. She’s even had the chance to sample a few of G Adventures’ offerings — including a new favorite destination: Japan.

More 2019 Top 10 30-Somethings

Fernanda Beraldi

Brian Buckham

Thomas Cluderay

Lewis Dolezal

April A. Goff

Sadeq M. Kahn

William K. Piotrowski

Alana C. St. Aude

Erin K. Stewart

About the Author

Danielle Maldonado is the assistant editor of the Association of Corporate Counsel.

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