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Stephanie Price

Meet Robbie Vermillion!


When your mantra is “No job is impossible and all goals are achievable” and your extracurricular activities include alligator hunting, your life is bound to be adventurous. But Robbie Vermillion, senior project manager for facilities, considers himself “A Simple Man,” as described in his favorite song by Hank Williams Jr. For the past three years, Vermillion has called The Johns Hopkins Hospital his “work home,” and he believes his role is a crucial part of JHM’s Strategic Plan.


1.       What does a typical work day look like for you?

I don’t know if there is such a thing as a typical work day in construction. Weather alone is a major issue in the construction of any project. You have to plan around whatever Mother Nature hands to you—from the ice, rain, snow and wind. If a needed crew does not show up, or the materials are not delivered, it can delay a project. Managing a construction project can require constant changes to be able to meet your completion deadline.


2.       What’s the most fascinating part of your job?

If I had to choose just one it would be taking a set of construction plans—at first only lines, numbers and letters on paper—and being involved in the day-to-day transformation to a usable building or space. There is a great deal of satisfaction in being able to look at a set of plans—

someone’s vision of what a project should look like—and seeing it come to life..


3.       How did you get into design and construction?

Design and construction were always in my blood and therefore an easy choice to pursue. My father and grandfather were carpenters; I had uncles, great uncles and a great-grandfather who were building tradesmen, architects and land developers. I was around building from an early age and was always fascinated by it; and extremely fortunate to have had so many experts in the fields to help and guide my career.


4.       How does your job tie into Johns Hopkins Medicine’s Strategic Plan?

I believe my job allows me to touch on all of Johns Hopkins Medicine’s six strategic priorities. If I had to pick one that’s closest to me it would be performance. I want the project I’m working on to be built to the best standards it can be and to efficiently serve the people it was built for. In the past, when a job was completed I had to move on and start another one. Now at Johns Hopkins, I can see firsthand how my project affects the patients, nurses, doctors and visitors that benefit from its completion.


5.       What are your hobbies outside of work?

I love the outdoors. I would have to say hunting is my favorite. I’ve hunted game from small to large, with feathers, fur and scales. I just recently returned from a self-guided bow fishing hunt for alligators on several lakes in central Florida. I also love to fish from the Chesapeake Bay to the Atlantic Ocean. I also love my vegetable gardens and my chickens. I can’t describe what a great stress reliever both are when I arrive home in the evening and walk among the chickens and look at what the garden has produced for supper.


6.       What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?

When I wake in the morning—at 3 a.m. on weekdays—I lay in bed for a few minutes and thank God for the start of another day and to hear one of my roosters crowing his good morning to the world inspires me to get my day started.


7.       What would be the theme song to your life?

I have two—“Country Boy Can Survive” and “Simple Man,” both sung by Hank Williams Jr. Both are exactly like my life and I couldn’t have written anything better!


8. What have you learned most about yourself (or your biggest AHA moment) while on the job? What I’ve learned most about myself is that no job is impossible and all goals are achievable. Many times you have to step back and change directions and let go of some notions that you held and try something different, but trust what you know to do. Never let the fear of anything hold you back. Fear only comes from having never done it, and once you do it you’ll have nothing else to fear.


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Regardless of an employee’s level of performance, it is essential that leaders/coaches meet one-on-one with each employee to "touch base", one or two times per month, depending on the number of your direct reports. This meeting is to ensure that you and your staff communicate about performance, goals and any issues facing the department. Learn how to have an effective one-on-one meeting, whether you are a supervisor or an  employee, in this week’s Hopkins Happenings’ Ask the Expert with Ruth Mitchell and Jennifer Clarke, organization and development training consultants.

For the Employee

Be prepared.

  • Go into the meeting with your agenda and questions/ challenges / barriers you need addressed.

Be proactive.

  • Think about solutions to your challenges and barriers.

Be thoughtful.

  • Recognize others who have been helpful to you.

Be open.

  • Go in ready to learn something you might not want to hear.

Consider using these open-ended questions in one-on-one meetings:

What is going well?

What isn’t going so well?

What do I need to do differently?

For the Manager

For a thirty minute meeting, follow the 10-10-10 rule.  Ten minutes for them, ten minutes for you and ten minutes for their development.

What should you do:

  1. Acknowledge the contributions this employee makes, and to demonstrate that what he/she does is important to the organization.
  2. Ask for input on what is working, what’s not working in departmental processes, operations and direction.
  3. Discuss barriers to successful performance and formulate a plan to remove the barriers.
  4. Establish and review goals.
  5. Give and seek feedback.
  6. Take interest in the employee's professional and career development.

Consider using these open-ended questions in one-on-one meetings:

How can I support you?

What progress have you made on your goals?

What barriers prevent you from accomplishing your goals?

What has been a recent success? How did that work? How do you feel about it?

If we had to do "x" project all over again, what would we do differently?

If you could change the way you do your job, what improvements would you recommend?

What frustrations are you experiencing? What steps can we take to minimize the frustrations?

What skills, experiences and/or knowledge would you like to obtain to position yourself for the future?


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InnovationAre you pushing the boundaries to find new, more efficient ways to do your job? How have you taken a fresh look at your job duties and revolutionized your role? Perhaps you identified a solution to a longstanding problem on your team, or came up with a better process to get a task done. Share your response in today’s Hopkins Happenings’ Question of the Week.

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What do you want to beWhat did you want your career to be when you were a child? Have you actually fulfilled that dream, on your way to fulfilling it, or are you doing something completely different? Share your dream job when you were a kid in today’s Hopkins Happenings’ Throwback Thursday.

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Where was the first case of Ebola on record documented? In what year was the first recorded Ebola outbreak? Learn more from the Johns Hopkins Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response (CEPAR) in this week’s Hopkins Happenings’ Trivia Tuesday.

Your Score:  

Your Ranking:  

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Many people put themselves in one of these two categories—a spender or a saver. Do you scrimp and save at every chance you get, or do you like to enjoy the fruits of your labor by spending your earnings? Share your response of this week’s Hopkins Happenings’ poll.

Are you a spender or a saver?

View Results

Polls Archive

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Lauren BacallThe sultry start of screen and stage, Lauren Bacall, died Tuesday at age 89. She was known for movies such as Confidential Agent, The Big Sleep and Dark Passage. Share your favorite old Hollywood actor or actress and the movie they were most famous for in this week’s Hopkins Happenings Throwback Thursday.

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A thoughtful gesture from a colleague can instantly brighten your day. Did a co-worker get you a cup of coffee because you looked like you needed it? Did they stop over to say hello on a day you felt down? Share the nicest thing a co-worker has done for you in this week’s Hopkins Happenings’ Question of the Week.

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Vinyl recordsThink back to the days when you couldn’t download the latest album from your favorite artist on your computer. Do you remember the first record you ever purchased? Whether it was vinyl, a cassette tape or a CD, share your memory of buying your first album on today’s Hopkins Happenings’ Throwback Thursday.

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Every year during the first week of August, more than 170 countries celebrate World Breastfeeding Week to encourage breast-feeding and to improve the health of babies around the globe. The Johns Hopkins Breastfeeding Support Program (BSP) provides resources to mothers who want to continue breastfeeding after returning to work and their supervisors. The resources include:

  • Mother’s Rooms on several campuses
  • Hospital grade breast pumps available for purchase at discounted prices
  • A vending machine with supplies for breastfeeding employees available inside the Mother's Room in Nelson 2-104
  • Consultations with breastfeeding employees and supervisors
  • Website with educational materials and online resources

Personal Story

I am currently an employee at JHH. I just wanted to send you a quick email to thank you for all the support I have received through the Breastfeeding Support Program. I am winding down on one year of breastfeeding my son, and definitely believe I could not have completed it without the amazing support of the BSP. I feel very lucky to have access to wonderful pump rooms with hospital grade pumps, and attribute my success to completing one year of breastfeeding to this. Thank you for all you do for new moms!


Are there laws or policies that support my choice to breastfeed after returning to work?

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires insurance companies to cover certain women’s preventive services such as breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling. The ACA amends the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 by requiring employers to provide reasonable break time and place, other than a restroom, that is private and clean for mother to express breast milk.

Johns Hopkins University & Health System have policies that are compliant with federal law.

How can I find out if there is a Mother’s Room near where I work? What should I do if there isn’t?

There are more than 15 Mother’s Rooms at various Johns Hopkins campuses. For the most up-to-date information, visit The comprehensive list also provides information about the contact people for each room. If your campus does not have a Mother’s Room, look at the list of Mother’s Room for locations of individuals tasked with finding space on an as needed basis.

New rooms are being added regularly. If you are interested in hosting a room, please email or call 443-997-7000.

One of my co-workers just returned from maternity leave and needs to pump a couple of times per day which means I need to cover for her. I feel like her choice is making more work for me. I’m feeling resentful. Any suggestions?

Changes in workload can be frustrating. It is important that your supervisor knows about your concerns and any questions that you might have. Your supervisor has the responsibility of managing employees’ schedules and making sure that performance standards are met. Also remember that employers have a legal responsibility to provide nursing mothers with time and space to pump.

According to the Business Case for Breastfeeding, employees whose companies provide breastfeeding support consistently report improved morale, better satisfaction with their jobs, and higher productivity. It is likely your co-worker is very appreciative of your efforts and will look for opportunities in the future to support you.

What kinds of discounts do you offer on breastfeeding pumps and supplies?

The Pumps for Purchase program offers discounted personal breast pumps and Mother’s Room accessory kits for hospital-grade pumps. A vending machine located in Nelson’s Mother’s Room – 2-104 offers breastfeeding supplies for employees at discounted prices. The vending machine accepts debit or credit cards for the purchase of accessory kits, milk storage bags, breast pads, and other supplies.

One of my employees told me she would like to continue breastfeeding after returning to work. How can I best support her?

Supporting breastfeeding after an employee returns to work can be a win-win situation for everyone. You and your employee can plan for the possibility that she will breastfeed after returning to work. When your employee returns, you can review her schedule and work plans. Encourage revisiting the plans periodically to see if any changes need to be made. Email for a digital copy of the brochure Breastfeeding Support Guide for Managers & Supervisors. Print copies will be available by the end of August.

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