Spotlight: Glenn Thorsen 

Glenn Thorsen, Global Sustainability Lead, FCM Consulting

Sustainability has risen to the top of the business agenda, and leading the charge at FCM Consulting is Glenn Thorsen, Global Sustainability Leader. Read on as we dive into his lifelong journey within the travel industry, his vision for sustainable travel, and how his role is transforming operations at FCM. 

Continuing the legacy 

With a CV spanning over 10 years of industry experience in roles encompassing strategic partnerships, innovation, and global market launches, Thorsen is a travel trailblazer at heart. However, he jokes that his journey began “even before birth,” thanks to his father, Johnny Thorsen, a well-known industry leader with a legacy of successful startups, acquisitions, and prominent corporate roles. 

Glenn regards Johnny as his greatest mentor. Despite this invaluable guidance, Glenn has undoubtedly forged his own reputation in his specialization of sustainable travel. 

Switching to sustainability 

The pivot towards sustainability wasn't sparked by a single moment but rather a series of transformative experiences. 

It all started in the M&E sector with Thorsen led a pioneering "carbon neutral meetings" pilot that offset emissions by calculating the CO2 produced in a meeting and contributing three times that amount towards a tree-planting scheme. At the time, this innovative approach connected sustainability to ad hoc meeting bookings – a domain that traditionally lacked sustainable practices for various reasons. Glenn admits this is probably not an initiative he would repeat in a similar fashion today. But even at this early stage, he knew how important it was to safeguard against greenwashing. Now, he has a commitment to offset 3x the calculated amount of meeting emissions he attends, for lack of a better solution. 

As this initiative scaled the Danish meetings & events startup into London and over 17 global markets, Thorsen experienced another significant personal milestone: the birth of his first child, Charlie, in 2017. 

This overlap of professional success and personal joy prompted Thorsen, who welcomed his second child, Carmen, in 2021, to reflect on the mentorship his own father provided and reevaluate the legacy he and his peers were set to leave for their children and future generations. 

“The world we are currently on track to leaving behind is simply not ‘fit for purpose’ for future generations. We need to take a serious look in the mirror and do more, and do what are doing even better. As much as we can to solve this challenge and get back on track,” says Thorsen. 

Recognizing the industry's need for dedicated, valuable sustainability solutions, Glenn joined Thrust Carbon as a founding employee, where he spent three years driving impactful initiatives before moving to FCM Consulting

Car on highway showcasing sustainability
A greener travel industry, in Glenn’s words  

“We never expected it to be easy. However, the overarching goal was simple: make a difference at a major industry player like FCM, and the potential to effect change across the industry would naturally follow."

“Two years later, that goal remains very much alive, and we're finally seeing the first signs of a tangible shift, with the next two years promising to be more dynamic and impactful. Our mission continues to make strategic actions for corporate travel managers accessible right now – today – without requiring massive overhauls of travel policies or the implantation of new technology."

“Sustainability is a complex challenge for everyone, both professionally and personally. As such, if we want to see and enable change, we must make it seamless and actionable – minimizing friction as much as possible. Otherwise, it simply will not materialize in time."

“The question our team asks is, ‘How do we do that?’"

“How does one book travel, and how does that align with one’s policy? For some companies, it may be as blunt and as straightforward as just a net zero target; we have a number, and we need to keep within that, and it needs to be as accurate as possible. Ultimately – we need to reduce our carbon footprint.” 

“I have been actively collaborating with clients, primarily focusing on the air travel category, where the vast majority (typically, but not exclusively, over 90%) of travel emissions are concentrated. This work involves a range of projects, from foundational emissions diagnostics to targeted emission transition initiatives. These efforts help develop strategic policy adjustments that enhance sustainability performance. 

“There’s also a lot of focus around emissions and how one can optimize the sustainability focus of one’s programs, but always linking back to how that sits within the context of our travel solutions and how we provide support to, not just clients, but partners, supplier businesses, and everyone in between.” 

The Sustainability Scorecard, our foundational air emissions diagnostic built through our partnership with Envest Global and CAPA, can be utilized by any organization, whether they are a client of FCM or any another TMC. We analyze the results to deliver tailored insights in sustainability benchmarking workshops. It is our goal in these sessions to help clients prioritize bookings with the most sustainable airline partners and incorporate genuine sustainability weightings, backed by independent data, into their air contracting engagements. 

“Recently, I've developed a unique methodology called Lowest Logical Emission. This approach quantifies significant emission reductions by optimizing long-haul travel routes. It provides city pair level emission reduction and optimization recommendations, aiding complex global travel programs in decarbonizing the most challenging category of all: long-haul travel. 

“Beyond air travel, I also advise clients on emerging sustainability initiatives in the hotel and M&E categories in particular. By aligning these initiatives with broader organizational strategies, we can maximize the behavioral impact of partners in these areas of travel.” 

Business last in a garden
Sustainability is more than just carbon 

“I believe that business travel and travel programs carry huge potential in how they can implement and harness sustainability to drive positive engagements, experiences, and outcomes in the future. 

“I often use the tagline, 'Sustainability is more than just carbon. As of right now, we're still highly focused on refining our data or getting the right methodologies – or in some cases, simply establishing a methodology. This is also known as ‘Carbon Tunnel Vision’. In reality, there's already a wealth of innovation happening in spaces beyond carbon considerations."

“Take hotels, for instance. The extent and variety of these initiatives are both fascinating and inspiring, with many: 

  • Hosting community experiences in their common areas 
  • Offering bicycles for small team activities to reduce transport needs 
  • Implementing in-house circular waste repurposing practices 
  • Adopting innovative and creative water reduction technologies and initiatives  
  • Creating rooftop bio gardens and even vertical farming for the property, restaurants, and bars."

"Many industry professionals might not be fully aware of or understand half of these practices. Yet, travelers already experience and talk about these efforts to varying degrees. We're still in the early stages of what I call the "Sustainable Travel Phase," and there is so much more for us to enable and develop."

"We can expect that sustainability in travel will also be shaped by evolving regulations, some of which we might not even be fully aware of yet. Despite potential regulatory challenges, the dynamic nature of our startup environment will continue to foster creative solutions. This is why I firmly believe in the potential of sustainability within business travel."

"By staying informed, adaptable, and innovative, we can make substantial progress and ensure that sustainability becomes an integral part of the travel industry’s future.” 

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