Meet CTM's Head of Sustainability, Lauren Hook
Embarking on a transformative journey toward a greener future, CTM’s Head of Sustainability, Lauren Hook, shares her views and experiences on how business and individuals can collectively influence a greener, more sustainable world.
Lauren’s commitment to sustainability goes beyond words; it’s a passion that floods every facet of her life.
In this blog post, we share the story of Lauren’s professional pathway from finance to sustainability, and the pivotal moments that shaped her journey. Gain insights into what drives her, discover her key areas of focus within the sustainability field, and valuable tips that can empower you to enhance your sustainability outcomes.
Your career commenced in auditing and accounting. So how did you come to work in the field of sustainability?
Sustainability has long been a personal passion of mine and when I saw an opportunity to lead this function in my previous organisation, I jumped at it. Many of the skills from my finance background have been readily transferable; stakeholder engagement across all levels of the business, regulatory compliance, reporting, and assurance. Ultimately, I believe that sustainability is about robust risk management.
Can you share with us your experience in sustainability? What has been your career highlight or greatest achievement in this field?
In my previous role, I was responsible for navigating, building and delivering a sustainability program. I am energised by working in cross-functional teams and I love the challenge and learnings from working in an area that is changing and developing as rapidly as sustainability is.
What attracted you to join the CTM Group as Head of Sustainability? And what excites you about the opportunities at CTM?
I am a travel tragic and for anyone like me, you understand just how addictive it is. On a professional level, I have been fortunate that my work has taken me all over the world, from climbing grain silos in the Czech Republic to working at the largest seaport in Europe and following the financial trades in Mumbai.
Closer to home, I worked for 7 years with Virgin Australia, which gave me an understanding of the travel industry, before moving on to a software development company as Head of Risk Sustainability and Audit. Missing my love of the travel industry, I sought an opportunity that would allow me to return, so it must have been fate when I discovered the role at CTM. The agility of CTM’s proprietary technology and the huge opportunity to drive a big impact for CTM and its customers excited me. In short, it was an opportunity too good to pass up!
I am thrilled to be a part of a market-leading travel business in sustainability earned through its industry recognition: Business Travel Sustainability Awards in Europe for the category of ‘Corporate Booking Platform (Lightning)’ and in the National Travel Industry Awards, Australia for the category of ‘Sustainability’. This presents exciting opportunities for our customers and as a travel company, both in how we run our business and how we can support our customers in their sustainability journey.
Sustainability is bigger than just reducing our carbon footprint. If you had to sum up what sustainability means to you, what would you say?
Businesses are being held to a higher standard by more stakeholders than ever before; investors, financiers, attracting and retaining talented employees in a tight labour market, insurers, customers, and the communities they operate in – and so they should be. Doing sustainability well in the areas they have the biggest impact; whether that is environmental impact, diversity, equity and inclusion, or ethical supply chain, provides businesses with the social license to operate. Don’t we all want to work for an employer who is making a positive impact and will be around for years to come?
What about sustainability are you most passionate about?
Seeing the trickle-down impacts that sustainability initiatives deliver is both exciting and powerful. For example, supplier diversity efforts like those that support indigenous businesses or female-led ones can drive economic and social benefits and improve business resilience. It creates a true chain reaction, and that is contagious. I love that this is an area where you can find champions at all levels of the business.
How do you travel sustainably for business?
I try to travel light and go carry-on where I can by packing my reusable water bottle, own toiletries, and my sneakers. I walk to orientate myself where it’s safe to do so and I can usually be found making a beeline for the local cuisine. I got caught out by seriously cold -18 weather in Canada earlier this year, so a trip to thrift shop delivered racks of winter warms that I would never find in subtropical Brisbane. The bonus was I re-donated the clothing when I was done. Win-win.
What is your favourite destination for business travel?
It can be tough to be away from my little kids, so I love a culture shock that consumes me; foreign language, culture and food are the perfect tonic. I go all in with local radio stations and news; you never know what you’ll learn. Tour a medieval castle after work? Count me in! I have found showing a genuine interest in your destination is a great way to build a rapport with my international colleagues and get the best insider tips. My favourite destination is always the next one.
Given the dynamic nature of the sustainability landscape, how do you stay informed about emerging trends, regulations, and best practices in the field? How do you plan to keep at the forefront of sustainability innovation?
This is another area where my accounting background is advantageous. I have an ongoing professional development requirement which means I am in the habit of seeking out and consuming learning and development content routinely. In addition to this, I have found coming at this from several angles to be helpful; including developing and fostering relationships inside and outside the industry, gathering investor and client feedback, engaging subject matter experts, and monitoring international regulator action to stay abreast of best practices.
I am looking forward to leveraging CTM’s agility and service mindset to ensure we are delivering in line to meet our customer needs and our stakeholders’ expectations.
As we look to a new year, what sustainability measures can businesses be taking in their travel programs?
We are living in the age of Big Data. There is a perfect opportunity to leverage the information available to make informed decisions. I would like to challenge you to see what small substitutions can be made to create an impact in the sustainability areas material to your business, for example, environmental impact or modern slavery criteria.
How have you witnessed attitudes towards sustainability change in the last year?
We are seeing much wider acceptance that sustainability is here to stay and that it is a business imperative. I credit this to stakeholders becoming increasingly vocal about their expectations and the increased regulator activity.
What countries do you think are ahead of the game when it comes to sustainability and why?
There is no doubt that Europe is leading the charge on sustainability both in terms of regulatory and market expectations. I think there are a combination of factors that have contributed to this, including scale, geography, infrastructure and most importantly a culture of long-term views when it comes to decision-making. That said, there are so many amazing ideas and creative solutions coming from all over the world, so it is going to take a global effort to make the changes needed.
Sustainability can be overwhelming. What is a top tip you would provide to companies that are starting to integrate sustainability measures into their travel programs?
Sustainability may seem overwhelming because it can have a broad remit and the landscape is changing in terms of legislation and market expectations. I suggest focusing on the key sustainability topics for your business; creating a solid foundation to build on. For now, it is about progress over perfection, but don’t get caught sleeping. I want to make our world a better place, don’t you?
Are you ready to embark on a journey to a green future?
Contact CTM to discuss your sustainability goals.