Justin was deployed in Afghanistan in 2012-2013 at Forward Operating Base Sharana in East Paktika Province.
Less than a decade ago, Justin Woulf was stationed in East Paktika, Afghanistan, near the country’s border with Pakistan. He was second in command of about 220 soldiers and wore a great many hats to keep his company functioning at an optimal level.
Today, Justin is an Area Manager in TC Energy’s U.S. Natural Gas (USNG) operations. While his home base of Wisconsin is a far cry from Paktika, he finds himself applying many of the same leadership and creative problem-solving skills at TC Energy that he picked up in the U.S. Army.
During his seven years of service, he worked as an intelligence analyst focused on data analytics and threat management, chemical officer specializing in hazmat response, and battalion signal officer who oversaw tactical communications.
Justin rejoined the civilian world in 2014 when he was hired by TC Energy as a Regional Supply Chain Specialist. He’s since risen the ranks and made a big impact on processes and decision-making in USNG operations, particularly when it comes to employee involvement and collaboration.
“It's been exciting to see the area and team grow and improve over time,” Justin says.
He was the driving force behind development of the Process Improvement Portal for the USNG operations organization, in which employees at a local level can submit proposed solutions to problems they encounter daily. This was a precursor to the USNG Innovation Portal now open to all USNG employees.
Similarly, he developed a Hazard Mitigation Tool that enabled broader application of hazard mitigation solutions across USNG’s diverse footprint. There are now plans to implement the tool in TC Energy’s Canada Gas and Mexico Gas operations.
“Justin walks through life with such a positive and can-do attitude,” says Dustin Enright, Director, U.S. Gas Operations and USGO Safety, Heartland Region. “His willingness to jump both feet in to any new project or initiative that has the potential to drive the business forward shines through time and time again.
“Additionally, when you have Justin on your committee, the positive energy is infectious. He always raises those up around him. This is what makes Justin such an up-and-coming leader in the organization.”
So, how does he do it all? Here’s a boots-on-the-ground tour of a day in Justin’s life.
Justin is an early riser who begins his day before sunup. After rolling out of bed, he first feeds Hunter, the family chocolate lab. Then Justin usually tries to get in a half-hour workout of rowing, cycling or lifting weights before grabbing breakfast on the go as he leaves for work.
Justin spends most of his work day at the Kewaskum Compressor Station, also known as the “Gem of the Kettles,” though he often makes site visits throughout Wisconsin. Either way, his work day usually begins with a swab of his email inbox and a check of PSS view (system overview or pressures and unit status) ahead of a call with Gas Control to ensure the system is operating as it should.
Every Monday morning, the Badger South team has a tailgate meeting to kick off the week in which they discuss safety topics, upcoming project work or resource alignment efforts. On Thursdays, Badger South’s leadership team takes a pulse check on the progress of their respective groups, making sure “the right people and tools are in the right places,” Justin says.
A quick protein bar is enough to keep Justin powering through his day. As things tend to slow down midday in operations, lunchtime offers Justin the opportunity to catch up on committee planning and other initiative support efforts.
Given Justin’s growing number of roles and tasks, it’s usually a safe bet that some of the aforementioned work spills over into the afternoon. But, typically in the summer months, the focus is on project support, in-line inspections or integrity digs taking place on a site.
“I try to keep a pretty strict work-life balance,” Justin says. That means targeting a hard stop at 15:30—though he often finds himself deviating—and heading home to make sure all is well on the home front with his wife Julie and their young children: Emma, age six; Declan, age five; and Faelan, almost two years old. Much of this involves “managing the chaos,” Justin says.
An early dinner—Justin’s favorite meal, true to the Midwest, is home-made pork schnitzel and roasted potatoes—allows for the family to have fun and decompress before getting ready to turn in for the night. Family game night takes place on Wednesdays. Before the pandemic, Justin’s son was involved in team soccer and his oldest daughter participated in ice skating. These days, they stay active by playing outside with dad.
“I'm one of the very few Chicago Bears fans in Wisconsin (Packers country),” says Justin, who grew up in Lockport, Illinois, just outside of Chicago, and started at TC Energy in the nearby Tinley Park regional office. When travel is safe, Justin and his wife—kids in tow—frequently take weekend trips to visit both of their families at home in the Chicago area. Otherwise, during the fall, Justin can be found at home in the den watching “Da Bears” on Sunday afternoons.
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