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?

Someplace where people can realise their potential. Where they can add value, do great work and be really happy. I believe that if people are happy at work they might just have a bit of discretionary mental, emotional and financial bandwidth to work on a little corner of their world that care about and can improve.

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

Life is too short to have a career you don’t absolutely love! This is true for myself and for everyone I meet.

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

2020 was about doing what we had to do. 2021 is about doing what we want to do. We have had a fair amount of time to be introspective and to decide what’s important to us. Individuals will be voting with their feet if their current job does not meet expectations and employers need to understand what’s important to their teams and meet or manage those expectations.

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?

Great question. I think we will see over time.

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

Commitment, persistence and a recognition that life will never be the same. It also wouldn’t hurt to bone up on the ROI of this positive change. Covid didn’t bring these trends about – but it did accelerate it!

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

Collaborating with like-minded people and making an impact on the planet.

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

At the risk of stating the obvious, Sydney Harbour is the most beautiful harbour in the world (okay, Hong Kong…settle down). J

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

I’m seeing this trend, but I think we will settle more in the middle as the novelty of getting back tother wears off.

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

I think it’s a really unique and exciting format and I believe the attendees will as well.

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

  1. Regular, 1:1 communication with their individual team members which strikes the balance between what they need to achieve and what they want to be happy.
  2. Focus on wellbeing.
  3. Reimagine the hiring processes to recognise that in most organisations employers need individuals more than the other way around.

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

Caring about them as individuals and recognising their uniqueness.

What’s your go to productivity trick?

Still looking for one!

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

A HR Manger client of mine. She has been in her role for 10 years and it had lost its lustre – primarily because she felt she was being taken for granted. I had a short conversation and a bit of a pep talk with her one day and she found her voice. She’s got her mojo back and finally has a seat at the table with the company CEO and COO. Her passion and commitment are back and she’s kicking goals!

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

Mitch Tambo performing John Farnham’s “You’re the Voice”.

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

Any place under the sea with a 12 litre scuba tank on my back.

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