'If you don't reinvent the way you work, you risk losing your best people'

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Dr Amantha Imber started her career helping advertising agencies connect products with consumers.

After losing her mojo, she was inspired to start Inventium, a behavioural science consultancy, which helps companies create better workplaces for their staff. The organisation has worked with companies from Chobani to Clayton Utz to CBA, and is more relevant than ever after COVID-19 triggered a shift towards working from home.

Amantha also hosts How I Work, a podcast about the habits of the world's most successful innovators.

dr amatha imber inventium business

What started you on the path you're on?

I knew from a young age that I wanted to be a psychologist. So I studied psychology at Monash University and ended up graduating with a Doctorate in Organisational Psychology. I have always been really passionate about how you create the best workplace in the world for your staff. We spend a third of our waking adult lives at work and that's too much time not to enjoy work and get a strong sense of purpose and meaning in the work that we do. In my business Inventium, I get to apply the latest findings from psychology to help people work more productively and become more innovative. It's my dream role.

Now there are 10 of us and everyone on the team would say it's the best place they ever worked. We help people really thrive at work and become future fit for the whole new world that we're in, thanks to the pandemic.

What was your first job?

I worked as a character waitress at Bobby McGee's in Melbourne's CBD. I dressed up as Effie from Acropolis Now and the ruder I was to customers, the bigger the tips I received! My first serious role, during my studying for my Doctorate of Organisational Psychology, was HR manager for a security firm which was an absolutely terrible firm where most staff were treated with a complete lack of respect and all kinds of abuse were common in the workplace. I didn't last long there and after graduation, I worked in an advertising agency.

Reinventing is easier for some than others - what can you recommend if you work for a company that maintains traditional working models?

If you don't reinvent the way you work, you run the risk of losing your best people to the companies that are brave and smart enough to challenge the status quo and are constantly thinking about how to create a better experience for their employees and customers.

What's the best money advice you've received?

Get a financial adviser. I am lucky enough to have found a great one, Simon Mrocki, over 10 years ago. I try to outsource things that I am not good at and that includes making investment decisions. He advises me on everything from my investment portfolio to property decisions, through to having the right level of insurance, estate planning and tax planning where he works very closely with my accounting for tax planning in my business.

What's the best investment decision you've made?

I recently invested in bringing on board a production team for my podcast How I Work. I now learn from the amazing Kellie Riordan from Deadset Studios and the super talented Jenna Koda. Podcasting can be lonely and having two really smart women on board to challenge me and make the show better has been amazing.

What's the worst investment decision you've made?

Leaving money sitting in the bank doing nothing.

What is your favourite thing to splurge on?

Anything from Gorman. I love the bright, colourful designs that Lisa Gorman creates.

If you had $10,000 where would you invest it?

I'd ask my financial adviser!

What would you do if you only had $50 left in the bank?

I have always been a very diligent saver and someone who has really healthy habits around spending, thanks to having great role models in my parents. So I would like to believe I would never be in this situation.

Do you intend to leave an inheritance?

Hell yeah, to my favourite person in the world, my seven-year-old daughter Frankie.

What's been your best money-making career move?

Starting my own business. I have never been motivated by money and for the first 10 years of running Inventium, I never even set financial targets. But the success of the business has set me up really well financially.

Finish this sentence: money makes decision-making a lot easier. At Inventium, it gives me the flexibility to be generous with salaries and bonuses and gifts. And outside of work, it allows me to provide a great life and education to my daughter.

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Julia Newbould is the managing editor of Money magazine and is one of the hosts of the Friends With Money podcast. She was previously editor of Financial Planning and Super Review magazines; managing editor at InvestorInfo and at Morningstar Australia. Julia co-authored The Joy of Money, a book on women and personal finance. She holds a Bachelor of Economics from the University of Sydney where she serves on the alumni council.