Angelo Cox – Inland Empire Health Plan (IEHP)
You may have been there once or twice.
It’s one of those company-sponsored training or professional development events. During a break, you zip back over to your workspace to touch base with your colleagues and check in on emails, memos and calls.
While this may only take a few minutes, as a result, you’re sidetracking yourself and getting pulled away both physically and mentally from the valuable training you’ve been involved in, notes Angelo Cox.
In this way, it can be tough to immerse yourself in training when you’re in a typical office space setting. Recognizing this—and emphasizing a committed investment to professional development—Inland Empire Health Plan (IEHP) is set to open a new, 86,000-square-foot, LEED-certified Center for Training and Innovation.
To be located at the Rancho Cucamonga campus of the rapidly growing California health provider, the dedicated space will host training programs for IEHP staff and partners and will be a home base and an incubator for IEHP’s evolving leadership development program.
Professional development is “all about getting better insight into who you are as a person,” says Cox, IEHP’s director of facilities. The organization’s new center, he adds, will “put people in an environment that’s much more conducive to education and development.”
Physical and professional demands
Established in 1996, IEHP offers no-cost and low-cost integrated health plans for Medi-Cal, Medicare and Medicaid recipients. The nonprofit organization identifies itself as one of the fastest-growing health plans in the country, with more than 1.2 million members and a network of 6,000 providers.
All of this keeps Cox and his team busy: The facilities director oversees roughly 700,000 square feet of campus across 50 acres, as well as three community resource centers and a warehouse operations facility.
Numerous enhancements and projects are underway across the board, Cox explains, most notably a full-scale reorientation to sustainable practices. That includes simple day-to-day changes—such as a switch to recycled cups and utensils across the campus—as well as projects with long-term significance. Regarding the latter, Cox is currently performing an analysis for a full-scale solar implementation. As he explains, the goal is to offset up to 48 percent of IEHP’s electrical usage and pay development and installation costs back within 10 years.
Similarly, he and his team have a plan to install 62 free electric vehicle charge stations for employee use. Twenty-two were previously installed and are in use, he says.
Meanwhile, Cox is leading a campus-wide refresh of building exteriors and landscaping—including walking trails, gardens, sculptures and fountains. Expected to be completed by spring 2020, the project is a collaboration with the city and on-site tenants and involves studying existing heritage reports and establishing new ones.
Cox and his team have also installed secondary electrical and water lines, as well as a 1.5-megawatt generator that provides a 100 percent power backup in emergency situations. They have likewise made numerous upgrades to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
New leadership concepts
Then there is IEHP’s new Center for Learning and Innovation. Planning for the 86,000-square-foot, two-story building started about three years ago, Cox says, and it is expected to open in January 2020. The first and foremost use for the building will be IEHP training and development programs and activities, he explains, but it also incorporates some office space and will be open for use by the community and IEHP providers.
The need for the dedicated space has become ever more crucial as the organization continues to experience rapid and steady growth, Cox says. IEHP leadership is in the midst of developing a range of new programs around leadership, technology and departmental training, with a focus on cultural, workforce and organizational needs, as well as concepts such as emotional intelligence.
Similarly, the organization is “100 percent supportive” of lean working concepts, Cox says, putting all team members through “Lean 101” and “Lean Bronze” certification programs—the latter earned once they demonstrate their grasp of lean principles, concepts and methods.
“The goal is to expand our minds and knowledge to understand how management and working styles need to be adapted to the new world,” Cox says.
Adaptation has long been one of Cox’s strengths. After starting his career with MBM Corporation, he held roles at USF Logistics, Mattel toy company and Spirit Halloween stores before joining IEHP in 2003 in a warehouse supervisory role at a satellite mailing support and fulfillment location. At the time, the organization had just 330 employees—compared with 2,200 today—and it was grappling with scale and growth, he recalls.
Stepping in, he leveraged his near 10-year background in warehousing and logistics to establish a streamlined warehouse system at IEHP. That project proved his capabilities and he soon moved on to become office services supervisor.
To continue advancing his career with the organization, he attended school full-time, earning his associate degree in business administration and his bachelor’s in business management in tandem. Two months later, he jumped right into an MBA program at California State University-San Bernardino.
“I thought that while I had the momentum, I should keep on going,” he says. “I spent five years nonstop going to school and working full time.”
Today, his all-encompassing role includes not only management of facilities and projects, but strategic planning, real estate purchases and drafting of grant applications and requests for proposal (RFPs). He oversees a team of 40 in different divisions and notes that he is recruiting.
Cox calls himself fortunate to have a background in warehousing, and credits IEHP for providing him with “great exposure” to a range of positions and concepts. His role requires fast thinking and decision-making, he notes, and clearly communicating those decisions to ensure that people are understanding and on board.
He adds that although his department’s decisions have almost instant, visceral and tangible impacts, people often don’t understand what goes into facilities because it occurs behind the scenes. “If we’re doing our job right, people don’t know it,” Cox says.
And while he acknowledges that it can sometimes be a “thankless job,” he adds that “facilities is a fast-paced environment—that’s one of things I like about it. It’s about providing a comfortable environment, taking care of our members.”
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