People & Places

Aligning personal values with professional work key to a satisfying life

Meet Nancy Hauserman, HER Luncheon keynote speaker

(Gazette file photo) TRAIL of Johnson County board of directors members Nancy Hauserman (right) speaks as Susan Shullaw looks on during an event at the Iowa City Public Library in Iowa City, Iowa, on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2017.
(Gazette file photo) TRAIL of Johnson County board of directors members Nancy Hauserman (right) speaks as Susan Shullaw looks on during an event at the Iowa City Public Library in Iowa City, Iowa, on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2017.

Nancy Hauserman, retired from teaching at the University of Iowa Tippie College of Business, believes it is critical for each of us to understand our personal values and find work that honors our values.

“I cannot imagine the possibility of living a deeply satisfying and happy life if your values aren’t aligned with what you do,” she said.

Hauserman first became interested in considering one’s personal and professional values as a young lawyer.

Hauserman went into teaching shortly after obtaining her law degree from the University of Iowa. She has devoted her career to teaching law and business ethics, as well as writing and doing research on business ethics, sexual harassment and women and employment law.

Years ago, she recalls going to the courthouse on her days off from school and hearing cases being presented.

“I never thought I’d be a lawyer, but I found that interesting,” she said, “and I thought — I could probably do this!

“I also had a cousin who was a fabulous activist, and she was really pushing me to go to law school and try to right societal wrongs,” she added.

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It was during her time clerking for a bankruptcy judge while she was still in law school that Hauserman said she discovered her interest in business ethics.

But after taking on a few court cases after law school, it became clear that general law wasn’t for her.

“I got very involved in the cases, and I wasn’t so good at stepping back and going out for a beer afterward,” she laughed.

“It just didn’t seem like the right direction for me.”

That’s when a friend from law school suggested she take over a teaching job that he was leaving at the College of Business within the University of Iowa.

“It was a time when there were just a few women teaching in the College of Business, and they needed someone else to teach the law ethics courses,” she said.

“They created a position for me, and that was that. I started teaching full time, and I have never regretted that decision. I love teaching!”

Hauserman will be the keynote speaker at a HER: Women in Business luncheon on aligning your work with your values on April 12 at The Hotel at Kirkwood in Cedar Rapids.

In addition, she will lead a special workshop after the luncheon geared toward helping people learn how to identify their values and utilize them in dealing with conflict.

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She believes many people often take their own values for granted. When she asked students in some of the MBA programs she was overseeing, it became clear to her that many of them could not easily articulate their value systems.

“If I say to you, ‘What are your values and where do they come from?’ I found people would say, ‘Oh, well, from my family . . . and my church,’ ” she said, “but they really could not name their values to me.”

Respect, truth, honesty are some of the values that make people who they are, but people have to prioritize their values because they can conflict with situations found not only in the business world, but in everyday life.

“If you value honesty, but also value the ability to not cause others harm,” she said, “what do you do if a work friend asks you to tell a white lie to your superior?

“If a person doesn’t really know what their values are, and have them internalized so they are readily accessible,” she continued, “then when they are faced with dilemmas, it can be hard to have a process for knowing that they have that satisfactory way of working through those situations.

“Aligning your values with your work is rarely an all-or-nothing proposition,” she said.

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