By Mike Haen
Having obtained his doctorate in sociology from UW–Madison in 2014, Hanif Nu’Man currently applies his disciplinary knowledge in his work as the Chief Sociologist of ReSCI Consulting, LLC—a management consultancy firm he founded based in Madison. Nu’Man focuses on improving organizational culture and climate across various industries including heath care, finance, and the non-profit sector. To do so, he uses research and assessment methodologies (e.g. questionnaires; focus group interviews), and examines findings to help his clients identify patterns in organizational culture, and ultimately improve social cohesion in the workplace.
Prior to pursuing studies in sociology, Nu’Man earned J.D. (2000) from the Loyola University Chicago School of Law. He traces his budding interest in organizational culture and workplace climate back to his time as an attorney. He explained that, “some of the cases I dealt with involved financial crime, and while I enjoyed working on behalf of clients, I became more interested in the workplace dynamics and how those dynamics influenced the actor(s) committing the crime.” Recognizing this interest, he began seeking out and applying to graduate programs that would help him investigate employee behavior. In 2006, he enrolled at UW–Madison.
As a graduate student, he researched the 2008 mortgage industry collapse through interviewing bank executives, loan originators, and state financial regulators. In addition to research, Nu’Man valued his teaching experience, which lasted for 17 consecutive semesters. “Teaching was my favorite part of grad school, hands down,” Nu’Man explained. Teaching still informs his work and research as Chief Sociologist at ReSCI.
“As a teacher, I learned to listen well to others, and to craft questions and discussion that created intrigue and motivated inquiry.”
Reflecting on his time in graduate school, he encourages students to think about how the skills they develop might be translated to other contexts beyond academia.
Several graduate school experiences prepared Nu’Man for his current work. He worked as a project assistant for Professor J. Michael Collins in the Center for Financial Literacy. “I learned a lot from Professor Collins when helping him research financial literacy in different cities across the country,” he explained. Working with Professor Collins also offered Nu’Man a chance to explore the mortgage industry and its complexities. Another critical experience for Nu’Man involved working on a project that examined how to improve graduating undergraduate students’ cultural sensitivity in the workplace. This is an issue that remains relevant for him in his current work.
Thinking about his own career trajectory, Nu’Man suggests that graduate students think about their education as a way to build knowledge and apply it to helping improve other people’s lives through a collaborative spirit. “I think it is imperative to embrace collaborative experiences and learn from one another in order to solve problems.”