When you’re chasing after purpose––but a life of meaning finds you first

businesswoman shaking hands with client meeting in office

May 20, 2024

From direct combat military service, to leading strategy and transformation in the private sector, to redefining PTSD, to 50-mile races, Infor's Justin Uhler gives new meaning to “it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”


Justin has lived many lives over the years. But the one thread that binds together the vastly different chapters that make up his story, is service.


A calling to serve

As a philosophy student, Justin sought to serve his love of wisdom and understanding the meaning of things. Before finalizing his degree, a much stronger calling––the one to serve his country––came knocking, and so he enlisted in the US military in 1996. After serving for a decade in direct combat and peace time Company-grade leadership roles as both an enlisted soldier and a commissioned officer in the US Army Infantry (learning invaluable management and strategic skills in the process), he knew it was time to come home and serve in his main role as a husband and father.


Thinking about what the future had in store for him during a two-week mid-tour leave from his combat tour in Iraq, he was unsure of where his calling to serve would take him next. He had managed to finish his degree as part of the Army’s Green-to-Gold program, and he had 10 years' worth of incomparable experiences stacked on top to offer––but to whom? He found his answer sitting on the passenger seat next to him on his flight home. A wonderfully intelligent and inquisitive woman struck up conversation with him while he was in field uniform, and they covered everything from not-for-profit and State Department involvement in Iraq, to foreign policy in general. Upon landing she handed him her business card and said, “if you ever need anything, you give me a call.”


Once he was home for good, Justin thought his next step would be in the non-profit sector, hopefully getting involved in third-world development initiatives. But the lack of transitioning programs for veterans at the time left him at a loss for how to make moves back in civilian life. When a fellow veteran, Mickey, shared his excitement over his own job interview lineup, Justin realized time was ticking and he would have to figure out his next chapter on his own. And then he remembered the business card.


After a thorough and thoughtful conversation with who turned out to be a vice-president at a Management and IT consulting firm, she turned her notebook toward him and said, “you're here, and you want to get over here. So, what’s in between? How do you fill this gap?”


“I have no idea,” Justin said.


And so, she offered him to join Hitachi as a management consultant, reassuring him that based on what she had learned about him, he would be good at the job. She concluded by handing him a piece of paper with the names of people he would talk to in his screening and hiring process––which she had compiled before he even walked into the room.

From captain to corporate

Facing his first foray into corporate America, Justin had a lot more questions than a typical candidate may have during the rounds of interviews he went through. But his background in philosophy and his military experience proved to be a perfect fit for the role, enabling him with tools like complex problem-solving, planning under pressure, and critical thinking. Abilities that––surprisingly––could easily describe both a military officer and a management consultant.


But just like he was inexperienced in interviewing for civilian roles, the civilian screeners were also completely unfamiliar with the military experience. One interviewer said to him, “you're a military officer, so you're probably used to seeing immediate results. In consulting, we often don't see immediate results. Sometimes we never see the results of the work that we do.”


Justin’s reply? “I just spent a year in Iraq, and I don't know if I'll ever see the outcomes of my actions.”


And so, despite not knowing much about what is taught during an MBA program or what a P&L report was, Justin was hired to learn and manage customers as a management consultant. Thanks to leadership who looked at his resume and had faith in his abilities, he spent just short of 13 years at Hitachi in roles that revolved around operational effectiveness, Organizational Change Management (OCM), and business transformation solving complex business problems ranging from the Global 50 to the mid-market. Then in 2018, Justin, following a former Hitachi leader, found his way to Infor, where he began as Director and founding Change Management Practice Leader for the North America Consulting Services and has worked his way up over the last five years to his current position as Vice President, Strategy and Transformation.


Despite settling into his roles and finding success professionally, Justin spent much of his time wondering if he was living up to his calling and making an impact on the world. Was he doing good for the world? What more could he be doing for the soldiers and enlisted personnel that had also transitioned out and didn't have the same opportunities that he had? What was his purpose?

Redefining PTSD

Justin’s veteran friend, Mickey, lived close by, and they had remained in touch. After all, they had been Lieutenants and Captains, and Platoon Leaders, Executive Officers, and staff officers––together. Mickey was now a board member for a foundation that would raise money to pass through to other foundations. The foundation, which helps veterans access effective, long-term solutions to transform Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) into Post-Traumatic Growth (PTG), was started by Leslie Mayne who lost her veteran son to a death of despair, and so she named it PTSD: The Permission to Start Dreaming Foundation.


The PTSD Foundation kickstarted an event called Race for A Soldier “to raise awareness of the challenges faced by our military service members, veterans, and first responders living with the effects of post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injuries.” The annual race along with Mickey and Justin’s addition to the board of the foundation, enabled the organization to become fully functional in its standalone offering to veterans, and no longer be just another way to pass through funds to other entities.


Aside from their flagship race event, the foundation also launched its Warrior PAATH (Progressive & Alternative Training Helping Heroes) program, developed by the BoulderCrest Foundation, which is the US’ first non-clinical, peer-to-peer program designed to cultivate and facilitate PTG. Justin was a board member when this program was being designed and launched, and he himself has gone through it. In the process of establishing the program, the foundation went through some hardships and growing pains, which led the leadership to nominate Justin to become the president of the foundation. Just as he was reflecting on what his role in life was at that time, he was thrust into the responsibility of helping the foundation evolve into something bigger.


Justin’s years of living and breathing strategic and operational transformation were now coming in handy in his new role as president of the foundation. “Everything that I had learned for the prior 15-16 years toiling as a consultant became directly applicable to the problems we were trying to solve as a foundation,” he stated.


Fighting through tears, he continued, “and a light went off: even though I didn't know what my purpose was for all those years, I was moving toward it.”

It’s not a sprint, it’s an ultramarathon


Having moved into his latest role at Infor as Vice President of Strategy and Transformation and two years into his tenure as president of the foundation, Justin was searching for a transformation of his own in 2023.

Always one to be in the know of what Infor customers are up to, Justin came across a video that Brooks released to promote an ultramarathon called the JFK 50 Mile. A history buff and major fan of Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt (26th President the US), Justin knew about Teddy’s policy of training commissioned military officers to move 50 miles in 20 hours. Then John F Kennedy (35th President of the US), in his quest to promote wellness in the country during his presidency, started promoting the idea of doing 50-mile foot races for civilians and military personnel all over the United States and on military installations overseas. And so was born the JFK 50 Mile, which is an ultramarathon that is now meant to be completed in under 13 hours.



The JFK 50 Mile is the oldest continuously run ultramarathon in the United States, and about 40% of the people that run this race are veterans or active-duty personnel. Justin had never run beyond 13 miles (a half marathon), and so he was really intrigued by this race. When he realized that the race was taking place just three weeks before his 50th birthday, he immediately knew this was what he wanted to do.


Justin started training for the race in March of 2023, and once he managed to hit 32 miles during one of his runs, he knew the ultramarathon was within his reach.


The physical challenge didn't come alone though. In the same timeframe that he had begun his training, he had arrived at a decision: he knew he had taken the foundation as far as he could, and it was time to allow a new leadership to come in. He knew he would be stepping down from the presidency and so he thought: 50 miles, 50th birthday, strong military component. It was perfect for a fundraiser. One thing about Justin is, he will always find an opportunity to be in service of something.



Crossing the finish line

Justin raised over $15,000 for the foundation. And on November 18, 2023, he ran 50.2 miles in

10 hours, 53 minutes, and 31 seconds.


Unsurprisingly, he recently completed a ½ marathon in April, and has his eye on another ultramarathon in the fall. All while continuing to serve and directly work with Infor customers at all organizational levels to develop and own clear, measurable, and executable business strategies, as well as equipping customer leaders to lead and drive organizational transformation more effectively.


Let's Connect

Contact us and we'll have a Business Development Representative contact you within 24 business hours

By clicking “Submit” you agree that Infor will process your personal data provided in the above form for communicating with you as our potential or actual customer or a client as described in our Privacy Policy.