Aimee O'Leary
Written by
Aimee O'Leary

This interview is a part of the Inspire: Cities series – meet the Chief Inspiration Officers. Inspire: Cities is the local arm of the global movement from Inspiring Workplaces. Our mission is to change the world, with you, through the world of work. One workplace, city and community at a time. View the full list of Cities here.


What does an Inspiring Workplace mean to you?

An Inspiring Workplace is one where all employees are engaged with the company and each other to help achieve the best work possible for mutual growth and profit.

Do you have a personal purpose? A why? Something that drives you daily?

My purpose as Co-CIO of Inspire: NY as well as President of Engagement Partners, is to help motivate and engage people to improve performance and business results, while being creative, innovative and passionate about what they do.

What do you think is the top priority when it comes to people at work this year and why?

With the shift to remote work and maintaining social distancing due to the pandemic, helping people feel connected and included is the top priority this year.

The past 12 months has seen an acceleration of positive change, mostly due to it being enforced upon employers. Change like trust, empowering choice, flexibility, investment in wellbeing and the reduction in the stigma around mental health. Our question is, how many employers stick to this path and how many revert to type?

I believe that virtual and hybrid work will continue once the pandemic subsides and that companies will offer more flexibility and engagement initiatives as time goes on because there is a significant number of millennials and gen z workers who will expect it as normal in the workplace.

A follow up to the last question. How do they stay the course should they wish to?

Every company should start with an engagement assessment to understand where they are currently, plan strategically where they wish to be and determine the engagement initiatives that will be most desired and effective for their workplace.

You’re a founding Chief Inspiration Officer for Inspire: Cities. What are you most looking forward to learning/ sharing with your local community?

I look forward to learning stories from companies that have achieved and are sustaining inspiring workplaces and sharing them with companies which are interested in accomplishing it as well.

Tell us something about your city or the people that make it. Something the rest of us won’t know.

New York is the most diverse city in the world in terms of cultures, ethnic groups and generations all living and working together in close proximity.

Do you think in-person events will be valued more than ever before after the past 12-18 months?

Yes, although virtual events are here to stay, there is nothing like meeting in person to form relationships, focus on the task and hand and collaborating with others. People are hunkering to get back to conferences and meetings.

How do you think attendees will react to The Inspire Ring and our unique event format?

I think people will feel connected and part of an immersive experience as a participant, as opposed to being part of the audience in a typical event.

What are three areas of focus for organizations looking to improve the people experience?

  1. Assess your particular company’s engagement levels and determine what employees will most value.
  2. Develop a culture of recognition and appreciation.
  3. Develop an inclusive and effective innovation program.

What do you think is the most important quality in a leader?

Leaders have to be empathetic to their employees situations and get to know them personally.

What’s your go to productivity trick?

Just sit down and get started to avoid procrastination and a feeling of overwhelm.

Who was the last person to inspire you at work and why?

Matt Manners has created a compelling vision for Inspiring-Workplaces and has inspired me to become co-CIO of Inspire: New York.

What’s the best advice you were ever given? Who was it from?

Napoleon Hill researched the principles of success in his book the “Science of Personal Achievement” and shared the steps to achieve it including creating a mastermind group.

Name one song that fires you up, when you need to get motivated and fast

“We are the Champions,” from Queen.

Best place, (other than your own city) that you have ever visited?

I really like many cities, so hard to pick one, but I always enjoy a business trip to San Francisco and a vacation or conference in Cacun or on the Mayan Riviera.

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