The Future Leaders Awards program is brought to you in partnership with PointClickCare. The program is designed to recognize up-and-coming industry members who are shaping the next decade of senior housing, skilled nursing, home health, and hospice care. To see this year’s Future Leaders, visit https://futureleaders.agingmedia.com/.
George Kutnerian has been named a 2023 Future Leader by Senior Housing News.
To become a Future Leader, an individual is nominated by their peers. The candidate must be a high-performing employee who is 40-years-old or younger, a passionate worker who knows how to put vision into action, and an advocate for seniors, and the committed professionals who ensure their well-being.
Kutnerian serves as President and CEO of Wellpointe Inc.
Senior Housing News caught up with Kutnerian to discuss his time in the industry along with where he sees the industry headed, including solving workforce issues and expanding the labor pool within senior living.
What drew you to the industry?
Conveniently, I grew up in the senior living industry. My parents started out in 1984 as entrepreneurial operators, which gave me a front row seat throughout my childhood.
While my parents never pressured me to work in the industry and it wasn’t always an inevitability that I would work in the industry, the industry always drew me back like a magnet. I found that the level of positive human impact that can be made relative to other industries was unmatched. After I completed my MBA at the University of Chicago, I made the decision alongside my younger sister to make the senior living industry my permanent professional home. The many lives we positively touch validate that career decision every day.
What’s your biggest lesson learned since working in the industry?
My biggest lesson learned is that in order to have a chance at effectuating transformative change, we need to let go of the personal biases that fuel the status quo.
If you could change one thing with an eye toward the future of living, what would it be?
I’d like to see the talent pool from which the industry draws to broaden. Unfortunately, our industry is not top-of-mind for enough professionals. There is a role for both industry associations and individual operators to play on this front. NIC has made some inroads on this front with its academic outreach efforts, but more industry level branding and outreach is needed. Individual operators need to get more competitive and creative when it comes to pay and incentives. Too often we are competing for talent from within the industry when we need to also be attracting talent from outside the industry for fresh perspectives. The good news is that the work we do in this industry is extremely impactful and at a time when people care more than ever about the societal impact of their work, I believe we can offer the right combination of tangible and intangible benefits that make this industry an attractive destination for top talent.
I’m proud to say that at Wellpointe we’ve had success tapping into talent from outside the industry to complement our within industry talent and we are looking to continue to build upon that success.
What do you foresee as being different about senior living looking ahead to 2023?
I foresee greater diversity in terms of the physical product because of the emergence of more distinct consumer segments. For example, at Wellpointe, we are pioneering within the “small home” residential assisted living segment. The combination of diverse consumer preferences and industry pressures should lead to more innovation when it comes to the physical product.
In a word, how would you describe the future of senior living?
What qualities must all future leaders possess?
Adaptability is key. It ties back to letting go of the personal biases that fuel the status quo. Leaders in this space must be willing to embrace new paradigms because the industry is evolving at a faster rate than ever before. We need to be constantly experimenting so that we can arrive at impactful innovations.
If you could give advice to yourself looking back to your first day in the industry, what would it be and why?
Don’t stress about everything being perfect because perfection gets in the way of progress. It’s best to learn by doing and make progress by getting a little bit better each day.