Glen Buchanan was born on 29 October 1955 and grew up and attended school in Kirkcudbright, Scotland. He studied at Paisley College of Technology, graduating with a BA in Social Studies in 1977, followed by an MBA from the University of Bradford in 1978.
From 1979 to 1981 he worked for the Scottish Council for Single Homeless managing a project looking at the housing experiences and needs of single people in Scotland. This paved the way for a major expansion of housing options and opportunities for single people across the 1980s and thereafter. In 1981 he took up the position of research fellow in the Local Government Unit at Paisley College of Technology, where he first worked alongside John Pearce on the Local Enterprise Advisory Project (LEAP), and worked on the case studies of the community enterprises Flagstone Enterprises Ltd, Paisley, and Govan Workspace, Glasgow. In 1984 he began working for Strathclyde Community Business (SCB) as Training Officer, eventually becoming Depute General Manager for John Pearce. SCB was the major development agency for community businesses in the west of Scotland providing information and advice, development support, training and financial assistance. Throughout this time he was also a Director of Community Business Scotland Ltd (CBS) and from 1884 to 1988 was editor of ‘CB News’, promoting the wider social enterprise movement in Scotland and beyond.
From 1991 to 1993 Glen Buchanan worked as National Coordinator, Care and Repair Initiative, Glasgow, for Shelter Scotland. He was responsible for management of eight council-wide projects across Scotland and negotiating support for the national development of Care and Repair into the mainstream of housing practice. In 1993 he was appointed by Scottish Homes to coordinate national development of Care and Repair throughout Scotland, later working on local housing and planning strategy development. He worked for Communities Scotland when it took on the functions of Scottish Homes and widened its community regeneration remit and then for the Scottish Government as Policy Manager, Glasgow, from 2008 to 2010. In each role he worked on the provision of grant and development support to housing associations, social enterprises and other third sector organisations. He went on to work for various organisations in consumer rights, housing, health and social care, and social enterprise until his retirement in 2016.