Ever since graduating from Stevenson in 2013, Justin Hughes has been quite the world traveler. Following commencement in May, Hughes packed everything up and moved to New Jersey to join the staff of Johnson & Johnson (J&J), a company he began working for as an intern during his time as an undergraduate. And while the rounds of golf for Hughes has gone down since leaving Stevenson, the lessons he has learned has stuck with him.
A four-year member of the men’s golf team, Hughes led the Mustangs to the 2013 MAC Commonwealth championship and the program’s second berth to the NCAA Division III Men’s Golf Championship. Off the course, he earned his Bachelors of Science in Business Administration and his Masters of Science in Business Technology and Management.
Together, Hughes learned many valuable lessons that he still carries with him today.
“Being a student-athlete, time management was an absolute necessity,” explained Hughes. “Being able to juggle coursework, practices, tournaments, travel between events, time with friends and a part-time job wasn’t easy.”
But having to do all of those things for four years, Hughes has found it is easier for him to juggle everything in his job and in life. He took the lessons he learned from being a student-athlete and has been able to thrive because of the trial and error he went through in college.
“The number one thing I learned at Stevenson that has stuck with me post-college is the importance of your professional network and the notion of ‘it’s not often what you know but rather who you know’.
I am not saying someone shouldn’t desire to work hard and excel in their role, but simply recognizing most companies in today’s world are now moving towards a relationship-based culture and away from the traditional tasked-based.”
And that is exactly how Hughes landed at J&J. He got a summer internship at the company heading into his junior year because his close friend’s father works for them. And since then, he has continued to climb.
Hughes first joined Johnson & Johnson’s Information Technology Leadership Development Program his first year full-time. After graduating from that program in May 2015, Hughes moved from team to team before settling into his current role, Global IT Operations supporting Supply Chain. In this role, Hughes and his team supports the reliability of IT applications and infrastructure supporting J&J’s most critical manufacturing and distribution sites across the world.
“In other words, our goal is to prevent large scale IT outages from halting production/distribution activities at a site, as such outages cost the company $100,000+ per hour. My role primarily consists of data visualization and analytics, project management, innovative process improvement and vendor management.”
His role has also brought him all around the country. From Beijing to Amsterdam to Belgium to San Juan to Seoul and many other places, Hughes has quite the collection of stamps in his passport. They may be work trips but Hughes has made the most of his world traveling making lifelong friends along the way.
“I will say first and foremost I've been truly fortunate to have traveled all across the world, let alone on someone else's dime. Flipping through the pages of my passport, there are some countries I didn't think I would ever step foot in, not even in my wildest of dreams.
Nonetheless, I love traveling and believe everyone should make time for some type of trip every so often. Sure, you get to learn things about new cultures, but more importantly in my opinion, you'll also learn to appreciate the little things within your own culture you've grown to take for granted.”
Hughes has used his passport way more than a scorecard since graduating. For him, it was tough to make the transition of playing golf every day to hardly playing at all. If he is lucky, he can get out once, maybe twice a month.
“But ultimately life happens right? My priorities changed and those four or five hours I used to spend at the course daily were needed elsewhere in my life. Trust me if there were more hours in a day, first place I'd be is on the golf course.”
And the golf course is a sacred place for Hughes looking back on his time as a Mustang. He had quite the ride his senior year. Hughes shot a career-best 73 in the second round of the MAC Commonwealth Championship to help lead the team to the title, it’s second in program history.
“For four years I had dreamed about ‘going back to Nationals’ and for it to finally come true my senior year was really something special. I'll never forget the look on Coach's face when it was made official that we had won, he was on absolute cloud nine.
Once we got to Nationals itself, it was honestly surreal, without a doubt the closest thing I'll ever experience to playing in a PGA Tour event. There were scoreboards, a gallery, that ‘inside the ropes feeling’.”
Academically, Hughes was selected as a Division III Cleveland Golf/Srixon All-America Scholar, an honor that had only been accomplished by one golfer previously. In his senior season, Hughes competed in 12 events, totaling three top-5 finishes and four top-10 finishes while posting a 78.6 stroke average.
While Hughes may not play as many rounds of golf anymore, he has found a new passion, triathlons. Prior to 2017, J&J sponsored a triathlon every year in Philadelphia which allowed any employee free race entry in return for fundraising in support of the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
“In 2015, I joined a relay team with two other colleagues as the team's swimmer. The following year I had a lofty goal of finishing the SPRINT distance race as an individual. Crossing the finish line was unlike any feeling I had ever experienced and was instantly hooked.”
Since then, Hughes has completed three IRONMAN 70.3 events with another two ahead of him. And he is thinking about trying a full IRONMAN 140.6 next year.
“For me, triathlons, especially long-course endurance racing is the ultimate test of the body and minds' ability. In 2015, I wasn't necessarily living the healthiest of lifestyles you could say and was looking for something that could get me back on the right track. Happened to stumble upon triathlons which has completely turned things around for the better. Currently in the best shape of my life and excited where the sport will take me next.”
Hughes makes it back to Owings Mills whenever he gets the chance to check in on his old coach and the team he helped build. Since he has left, the Mustangs have won two conference titles and have made it to Nationals twice.
“Seeing the continued success of a program you helped shape carry on in the future generations is pretty special.”