Penelope Kokkinides – CAO of InnovaCare

I take the time to prioritize what tasks need to get done and what I ultimately want to get done.

Penelope Kokkinides is currently the Chief Administrative Officer at InnovaCare, Inc. She rejoined the company in June of 2015. Previously, Kokkinides had served as Chief Operating Officer of InnovaCare, Inc., as well as Vice President of Clinical Operations. Kokkinides has more than 20 years of health care experience specializing in government programs (Medicare and Medicaid) and the managed care industry. She has extensive knowledge and expertise in developing clinical programs and managing health care processes and operations with a focus on improving efficiencies and organizational infrastructure.

Prior to rejoining InnovaCare, Inc., Kokkinides served as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for Centerlight HealthCare where she was responsible for overall management and strategic direction of the managed care division, Chief Operating Officer of Touchstone Health and Corporate Vice President for Care Management and Disease Management at AmeriChoice, a business unit of UnitedHealth Group, where she was instrumental in developing and implementing the company’s health model.

Kokkinides holds a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences and classical languages from Binghamton University; master’s degree in social work from New York University and a post-master’s program advanced degree in alcohol and substance abuse, and a master’s degree in public health from Columbia University School of Public Health.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

As you can imagine, no day in my life looks the exactly the same. Every day is different, which I generally enjoy, as it keeps me on my toes. I travel a lot and am always looking for ways to stay productive while on the move. I find my time in the air is often the most peaceful portion of my day, and I focus on getting as much done during those times as possible.

Portable chargers have changed my life. My phone and tablet obviously help me stay connected and productive on the road, but my portable charger is a lifesaver for those moments when my battery is on its last leg.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I have such a great team that I work with, which is essential to not only developing ideas, but also implementing them. I rely on them and vice versa. We have such a great synergy that allows us to be the best that we can and which allows our ideas to come to fruition.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

I am truly excited about how everyone has become better interconnected thanks to technology. As I mentioned before, I travel a lot in my day-to-day, so I’m incredibly thankful for how we are now able to connect with individuals all across the globe, through things like video conferences and screen-sharing.

Technology has completely transformed the way business is conducted today and although it takes some getting used to, I’m really excited about the change that it has created and how communication has evolved. And less travel in my life is definitely an added perk also.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I spend some time almost every night thinking about the next day: what needs to be done, what important meetings I have, and where I can help move things forward.

What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

I haven’t really had any bad jobs. There may have been aspects about the roles I didn’t always enjoy, but even in those situations, I was able to learn and grow as a professional.

Even when I was in high school, I didn’t work the jobs that most high schoolers typically have. I worked in a doctor’s office as a receptionist. He had office hours in the afternoon, so I would answer the phones and take care of office duties after school.

When I was a little older, I worked at Saks Fifth Avenue. My friend talked me into applying with her at the main store in Manhattan. I ended up getting a job as a store floater, meaning that I got to work the floor and assist customers. It was something that I loved – and it was decent pay, too.

My mother was a seamstress, and I ended up meeting some people and ultimately referred her for a job. She wound up working there for over 20 years. What started as a job that wasn’t even meant for me turned into a great thing for my family – all because I was willing to take a chance, then work hard to make something out of it.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Taking the time to be informed on what’s happening in the industry is crucial as an entrepreneur. This means spending time with articles, publications, research, books and other resources. It’s key to stay abreast of how things are moving, how others are thinking or how trends may impact what we do. Then I think about how that fits into our overall strategy. I ask myself, “Do we need to move pieces or think about new strategies?”

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.

I’m not sure if this is a true “strategy,” but being really organized and structured is something that I’m grateful for. I take the time to prioritize what tasks need to get done and what I ultimately want to get done. This is essential because a lot of time can be spent simply thinking about what you’d like to be done. I strive to think about what the next steps are in order to accomplish our goals and where we go from there.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

The best purchase that comes to mind is some test prep materials that I recently bought for my godchild who wants to get into a specialized high school.

What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?

Like many others, I could not imagine my life without email. It makes communication so much easier. With the amount of time I spend traveling, I am indebted to my email and view it as an essential tool in my everyday life.

Skype also helps me stay in touch with the people I miss while I’m traveling.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

I highly recommend the book by Simon Sinek, “Start With Why.” He’s given a TED talk about this too, which I recommend watching if you get a chance. Simon’s stance is one not enough people think about: Instead of focusing on the questions of who, what, when and how, he discusses the importance of starting with why.

What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?

STAT News is the first thing that comes to mind. They approach healthcare from an analytic, data-driven perspective, which is unique among today’s trade media.

In terms of social media, I follow reporters for media outlets like Modern Healthcare, Becker’s, Politico and CNN to know stay informed on what’s happening in the news. It’s crucial to stay engaged with what is happening in the world, and Twitter has become the place where that happens instantaneously.


Penelope Kokkinides on LinkedIn:
Penelope Kokkinides on Twitter: @PennyKokkinides
Penelope Kokkinides on Instagram: @penelopekokkinides