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Jennifer Nickoles, M.S.

Jennifer Nickoles Jennifer Nickoles - At Johns Hopkins since 1997

Vice President for Operations and System Integration, Johns Hopkins Health System

Why did you decide to join Johns Hopkins Medicine?

My introduction to Johns Hopkins Medicine was as an architectural contractor working on space planning for facilities management and as a Johns Hopkins University undergraduate studying business and management. As part of my space planning job, I walked nearly every square foot of this place and interacted with almost every department. My intention was to pursue a position in international business after I received my degree, but the facilities team offered me a position before then. By the time I graduated, I was being offered my first management role,and I could envision my future here as a leader.

Why have you decided to stay at Johns Hopkins Medicine?

If you’re going to dedicate your time, talents and energy to a place, you need to be inspired by the mission and connected in meaningful ways to the people. Like most of us who work here, the mission and the people are why I stay. We have the unique ability to impact so many by helping and healing them, pioneering medical and scientific innovations, teaching generations of doctors and scientists, and sharing knowledge with the world. I get to work with smart, talented colleagues who encourage me when I want to grow and who have supported me when I wanted to take a step back to raise my four boys.

Innovate as much as you can within your scope of responsibility, and raise your hand when you’re ready for a new challenge.

Please tell us about how you reached your leadership position.

I came up through the ranks of Johns Hopkins Medicine; constantly seeking increased responsibility, complexity and diversity of experience over 20-plus years. After my position in facilities, I moved onto a budget analyst job in nephrology, then to a division manager position in rheumatology, and to an assistant administrator for pulmonary and critical care medicine. I also worked on countless projects and budgets, with hundreds of faculty, staff and trainees on multiple campuses. From there I became the director in the school of medicine vice dean’s office and gained the institutional experience to become the chief of staff.

Which of your accomplishments are you most proud of at Johns Hopkins Medicine?

I could list a project or initiative, but I am most proud of the people I mentor and the teams I’ve helped to develop. Regardless of your role, we all have an opportunity to learn from those ahead of us, but we have a real responsibility to teach those who aspire to grow. You don’t need a special title to commit to promoting others. The true lasting legacy of a leader is measured by succession; how well he/she invested in others who will, in turn, become multipliers who add value to others and the entire organization.

What advice would you give a woman who is aspiring to grow in her leadership responsibilities?

It may seem obvious, but start by focusing on mastering your current role and performing consistently well. Innovate as much as you can within your scope of responsibility, and raise your hand when you’re ready for a new challenge. A lot of my experience was gained through service on committees and workgroups that provided institutional exposure. Don’t be afraid to take a risk by accepting something outside your comfort zone. As a leader, you need to develop a holistic view of the organization and become more comfortable with ambiguity. Lastly, find sponsors, mentors and friends to support you along the way.

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