Intrepid announces senior leadership changes in U.S

Intrepid Travel announces senior leadership changes to continue its U.S. growth

JUNE 2024

Expansion drives ambitious growth strategy for certified B Corp 


Intrepid Travel has unveiled a new-look North American leadership team and structure to deliver on its visionary growth strategy. These moves include current Chief Customer Officer Leigh Barnes moving into the role of President of the Americas and Canadian travel industry stalwart Christian Wolters being appointed to a newly created position of President of Canada. 

Leigh Barnes and Christian Wolters will front Intrepid's new leadership in North America

Leigh Barnes and Christian Wolters will front Intrepid's new leadership in North America

Barnes has been with the company for more than a decade and his current remit includes leading the company’s customer strategy to deliver revenue growth. He will move into his new role from January 2025 and be responsible for leading all aspects of the region, including operations, sales and marketing. Barnes is currently based in Intrepid’s global head office in Melbourne, Australia and will relocate his family to the Pacific Northwest U.S. 

It’s a natural move for Barnes, who led Intrepid’s North American team during a record period of growth between 2015 and 2018, before going on to be appointed Intrepid’s first Chief Purpose Officer in 2019. In this role, he embedded impact further into the company’s model and its approach of balancing purpose and profit.  

“Intrepid’s brand has grown exponentially in North America – from our first tiny office in California over 20 years ago to our fastest growing region globally,” said CEO James Thornton. “Under this new structure, the Americas will play a key role in our ambitious growth strategy for 2030.” 

The announcement marks other changes to the Americas management team. 

Leigh Barnes and Matt Berna unveil US Expansion plans at Intrepid Global Summit 2024

Intrepid's Leigh Barnes and Matt Berna shared U.S. expansion plans at the company's Global Summit

Current President of the Americas, Matt Berna, will transition to become Senior Vice President, U.S. Sales & Operations and Global B2B External Sales. He will focus on the development of Intrepid's domestic operations, including Intrepid-owned Wildland Trekking, U.S. B2B sales and global business development for Intrepid’s DMC network. Berna has been pivotal in Intrepid’s growth, including developing Intrepid's North American strategy. He remains President of the Americas until January 2025. 

Meanwhile, Christian Wolters returns to Intrepid in the newly established role as President of Canada and General Manager, North America Marketing, effective July 1, 2024. Christian is an established leader, most recently as Chief Marketing Officer at TourRadar where he also led the North America team for the past nine years. Notably, Christian was a founding team member of Intrepid in Canada from 2008 to 2015 culminating as General Manager and VP of Sales. 

The move marks a new opportunity for Tom Smith who will be taking over the role of General Manager, Central America & Mexico. Smith will report to Managing Director of Latin America Gary Cohen who is a member of Americas leadership team, alongside Matt Berna and Christian Wolters, and other key functional leaders, who will all report to new Americas President Leigh Barnes effective January 1, 2025.  

Matt Berna and Tom Smith take on new roles at Intrepid

Tom Smith joins Intrepid Central America & Mexico as new General Manager, while Matt Berna is set to take on a new position as Senior Vice President, U.S. Sales & Operations and Global B2B External Sales

“This structure will help take Intrepid to the next level in the Americas,” adds Thornton. “We know that travel brings people together, opens hearts and minds and creates greater understanding. There has never been a greater need for this. The world needs more Intrepid people and I believe this is the moment to double down on our opportunity in the USA and broader Americas region.”