Meet Commander Justin Weingartner. He is currently deployed in Afghanistan in a tour from 2012-2013. He will be spending the holiday season far away from home — we wanted to remind our readers to remember those serving overseas and encourage our readership to find ways to support our troops!
CGN: Tell us about your consulting business.
JMW: Before spending the last few years on voluntary active duty status, I started a small private consulting firm by the name of Breaking Infinity LLC. This firm focused on small businesses that need a quality web presence. My training and guidance includes creating a web presence through Social Media, web advertising, and splash pages. This allows you to track and funnel customers through every tier of the process. Ultimately enabling you to put more resources into what’s working, and cut out the marketing materials that lack positive yield.
While in Afghanistan, I do a pro bono consulting for highly motivated soldiers who are developing a product and business plan for a website with integrated Facebook applications. Giving free guidance based on my research and experience not only allows me to continue to hone my skills while deployed in a combat environment, but also allows me to contribute to the success of others. Helping soldiers has always been a priority of mine.
Although consulting is always an option, when I return from my current tour with the Army I plan on publishing my first written work. While writing in my spare time, I realized I can effect more lives at a lower cost to the consumer. My target audience is young entrepreneurs who are still in undergraduate studies and want a break from the mature CEO perspective. This outlook has its place, but also has thousands of competitors.
CGN: What is your job in the military (both in the states and in your duties in Afghanistan?).
JMW: At the most basic level, the job of a commander is the same whether state-side or deployed. Like a CEO, commanders are the external face of the organization. I am responsible for anything that happens, or fails to happen within the company. As a commander, I am charged with four important, yet basic duties: taking care of the workforce (soldiers), accounting for and protecting inventory (military equipment), constant assessment and training of the organization, and the punishment of those who fail to meet mission or regulatory standards and guidance.
While stateside, the main focus of the company is training and preparing for combat readiness. “We’re always training” is a famous quote from Colonel Yee, my prior Brigade Commander.
I supervised middle management to ensure all soldiers were trained and capable of doing their assigned military occupation. I reviewed soldier’s medical readiness, and ensured their family situations were stable enough that they could mobilize when required called to service.
In Afghanistan, the main focus is always the mission. Providing quality customer service is imperative. I train and mentor junior officers so they can meet with high level customer representatives on a daily basis. These clients often have the authority of a board member at a powerful company.
As the commander, I continually assess the work force to identify strengths and improve weaknesses. Most importantly, I conduct thorough research and make difficult decisions.
CGN: What drew you to a career in the military?
JMW: When I was younger, I swore I would never join the military. However, I grew up with close friends and family who either served before, or were currently serving. I always looked up to those individuals as role models of how a valuable asset to society should look and act. They had traits I wanted, including a large variety of knowledge, deep understanding of diversity, and confidence.
My parents both served in the Army as linguists when I was young. That is part of the reason I originally joined as a linguist and an interrogator in the Military Intelligence Branch. In my mind, I had envisioned the job as something out of a spy movie. Although it never turned out to be very glamorous, the job was incredibly rewarding. I would never trade the experience for anything. When I decided to complete my degree and enter the ROTC program, serving in the military quickly evolved from a job to a career. This was an important developmental step for me. I was becoming an organizational leader with executive-level understanding.
In the report “Military Experience and CEOs: Is There a Link?” by Korn/Ferry International, it was found that 8% of Fortune 500 CEOs served as officers in the military. This percentage is impressive, because only 3% of US adult males have ever served as officers.
CGN: Please tell us about your international experiences in the military, prior to Afghanistan.
JMW: Just six months after completing my military training, I volunteered for an immersive program at Yonsae University in South Korea. I enjoyed living in the country absorbing many details of the culture and business practices. I went back to South Korea in 2007 to network, attend a short language program, and analyze the entertainment industry. I used this trip to build relationships in both the United States and South Korea. These skills have opened up the door to the world of travel and entertainment both in Korea and their sub-culture within the United States.
CGN: What was it like for you when you found out that you had been deployed to Afghanistan?
JMW: At the time I was in command of another company. I also played a crucial role in the daily operations at the battalion level. I knew about this deployment well before it was officially announced. I have always taken a proactive role in my career, and because of that I am usually one of the first to know what is going on. This allowed me to have input in the battalion’s planning cycle and a larger role in deciding my company’s future.
Once we received the notice, I asked my boss if I could take the piece of the mission designated for Afghanistan, and if I could hand pick of the soldiers who would be in my company. The reputation I built within the organization made this an easy decision and I was selected for the task. I immediately started planning, and built a strong versatile team capable of taking on any mission in any country. We created a unique training plan to prepare the soldiers for this deployment. The result was a versatile organization that has received multiple accolades.
CGN: Who has been your greatest support in your deployment and why?
JMW: Everyone close to me has been really great. The strength of bonds in relationships between family, friends and spouses are often amplified (good or bad) when a soldier takes a mission in a foreign country.
We have received a ton of support in the form of care packages from organizations such as “Operation Troop Appreciation,” “The Girl Scouts of America,” and the “California State Fair Defenders of Freedom Chapter.” These organizations have provided things like comfort food, snacks and laundry detergent.
CGN: What personal sacrifices in particular stick out to you in your mind in the army?
JMW: The greatest sacrifices are made by the soldiers who never return home. I am happy to be in command of a company of men and women who have volunteered for this mission knowing the risks they face in order to protect the freedom and liberties of others.
CGN: What would be your message to employers as veterans come home looking for jobs?
JMW: As a military leader with experience as an employer, I have seen these soldiers go to great lengths in order to better themselves as a team member, and employee. They constantly work in fast paced, stressful environments, and would be an asset to any business. While continuing to excel at the mission, my soldiers have attended leadership training,
acquired valuable professional information tech-nology certifications, and also attended college classes.
A dedication to constant self-improvement is something I stress daily, and these soldiers have taken that to heart. As for myself and the six junior officers that work under me, we strive to learn and live by these 6 major traits:
1) learning how to work as part of a team
2) organizational skills, such as planning and ef-fective use of resources
3) good communication skills
4) defining a goal and motivating others to follow it
5) a highly developed sense of ethics
6) the ability to remain calm under pressure.
CGN: What is the best/most effective way that you believe Americans back home can support our men and women overseas?
JMW: Listen to what soldiers have to say, listen to what politicians are saying, vote according to what you believe is right, and take time to let a soldier know how much you care. This could be something simple like a supportive Facebook post, or even getting together a group together to send the occasional care package.
Justin Weingartner is a 2009 graduate of the Michael G. Foster School of Business. He has been consulting companies on improving their web presence for over seven years. For more information on how to hire Justin to run your company more efficiently, contact us at email@example.com.