I enjoy reading reflective blog posts around this time of year. The days between Christmas and New Year are always slightly odd. We are in that period where nobody knows what day of the week it is and our regular schedules are tossed aside. For the majority of the year we are usually so engrossed in the challenges of everyday life it can be easy to forget everything we have accomplished if we don’t take the time to sit back and reflect. On that note, as 2017 draws to a close I wanted to take some time out to reflect upon my year and document some of the highlights from the last 12 months. While I don’t believe in New Years resolutions I’ll end this post by listing some of my aspirations for 2018.
2017 has been a fantastic year for me. I started the year with a positive mindset, promising myself that I would accept every opportunity that presented itself and put in the effort to do my very best. I think it’s fair to say I stuck to these promises throughout the year and I’m so happy that I did.
2017 was an exciting year for the London TUG (Tableau User Group). While I joined the TUG leadership team in November 2016 I only had the opportunity to be involved in one TUG before the end of last year. At the beginning of 2017 I attended a planning session with the other TUG leaders at the time (Paul Chapman, Paul Banoub, Nick Bignell and David Pires) to plan our events for the year. We set an ambitious target to organise a meeting every 6 weeks. At the time this seemed like a slightly crazy thing to commit to but I’m so pleased that we did. We organised a total of 9 TUG’s this year with a variety of speakers from across the world. We also launched our Workplace by Facebook site at the beginning of the year to help connect with the TUG community and share content from our events. At the time of writing our site has over 300 members and has grown to include other groups such as Tableau Doctor and a place for members to share their blog posts. Thanks to Pablo Gomez and I for Ideas we are able to live stream all of our events on Workplace meaning that members can tune in from anywhere in the world if they can’t make our meetings in person.
I could dedicate an entire blog post to London TUG alone but instead I’ve quickly summerised our year below:
- February – Matt Francis joined us to share his famous ‘Busting Data Viz Myths’ talk from #Data16. We also debuted the ‘Battle of the Tableau Tipsters’ tip battle where we saw Lorna Eden and Pablo Sáenz d Tejada go head-to-head.
- March – Eva Murray joined us to talk about #MakeoverMonday and shared how she uses Tableau to visualise her fitness data. We also held another tip battle where Lorna took on Pablo Gomez.
- April – We were incredibly lucky to be joined by ‘Storytelling with Data’ author Cole Knaflic who shared a talk on how to bring data to life through pictures and stories. We ended the event we another tip battle where reigning champion Lorna took on Dan Harrison.
- June – Our June event coincided with the hottest day of the year in the UK! At this event we were spoilt with talks from Tableau’s very own Chief Product Officer Francois Ajenstat, followed by a talk on quantified-self data by Tim Ngwena. We were also honored to have Tableau CEO Adam Selipsky drop in to say hello!
- July – We were joined by more Tableau royalty in July when Elissa Fink shared her tips for successful technology adoption with us. We were also joined by Andy Cotgreave who spoke to us about dashboards; what they are, why we need them and what makes a good one (I seem to remember he wrote a book recently but I forget the title)!
- September – In September we held a customer-focused TUG where Kirstin Lyon (Novozymes), Graeme Wiggins (BravoSolution) and our very own Paul Chapman (JLL) spoke to us about their experiences with Tableau within their organisations.
- November – In November we held not one but two events! For the first event we were joined by Simon Beaumont who spoke about the Tableau Centre of Excellence he has helped set-up in the NHS. Paul Chapman & I also hosted a #Data17 panel featuring Nisa Mara, Lorna Eden, Grame Wiggins, Waseem Ali and Alina Cristea who shared their experiences from the Tableau Conference in Las Vegas. After learning that the Kantar Information is Beautiful Award finalists Chloe Tseng, Jacob Olsufka and Russell Spangler were flying to London from the US for the awards ceremony in November we couldn’t not hold an event for them while they were in town. For our second event of the month we were joined by our American visitors as well as Neil Richards who spoke about his contribution to #MakeoverMonday and his #VizForSocialGood visualisation that was selected by the UN Development Group.
- December – We concluded the year on a more informal note by hosting the ‘Big Viz Quiz of the Year’ in December where attendees competed for the title of London TUG Quiz Champions! The quiz was won by Matt Francis and his team but it was by no means easy win!
I love the energy that the our speakers and community bring to each TUG event. Not only do attendees leave the events inspired by the talks but we include plenty of networking time for attendees to catch up with friends and make new connections before and after each event. It’s been a honour to be a part of the London TUG leadership team this year and I can’t wait to help organise more events in 2018. Thank you to my fellow leaders Paul Chapman, Paul Banoub, Nick Bignell, David Pires and Pablo Gomez for being such a fantastic team to work with and for all of your support throughout the year.
Pablo Gomez and the team at I for Ideas kindly put together two videos to capture the spirit at our events this year which you can watch below. The first video was filmed at our events in April & June while the second video was recorded at the ‘Big Viz Quiz of the Year’ in December (hence the Christmas theme). Enjoy!
If you would like to join our London TUG Workplace site you can sign up here.
Here are a few of my favourite pictures taken at the #LondonTUG over the past 12 months.
As I frequently write about #MakeoverMonday it should need no introduction. #MakeoverMonday has played a significant part of my Tableau journey since I first got involved in the project in February 2016. If it wasn’t for #MakeoverMonday I certainly wouldn’t be where I am today. #MakeoverMonday has helped me to develop my Tableau and data visualisation skills, become more engaged with the Tableau Community, meet lots of awesome people and advance my career. At the beginning of the year I aimed to participate in #MakeoverMonday every week and blog about my vizzes where I could. While I didn’t end up participating every week (I think I completed around 34 weeks this year, up from 17 weeks in 2016) I am proud of the vizzes I created. I have used the project to push myself this year; challenging myself to try new techniques and learn features of Tableau I otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to experiment with. I have also written 10 blog posts about my #MakeoverMonday submissions this year. Writing these has really helped me to reflect upon my design choices and evaluate my work.
I am incredibly grateful for Andy Kriebel and Eva Murray for the time that they dedicate to this project, especially this year which saw the introduction of the weekly viz reviews, blogs and weekly summaries. I personally have found these to be invaluable. I remember back in January I was stunned to have my ‘Trump Tweets’ viz included in the weekly favourites; something which I never expected considering all of the amazing people that participate in this project. I went on to be featured in the weekly favourites a further three times this year with references to my submissions in other posts also. Thank you so much Andy and Eva for all of your support and dedication to this amazing project!
It’s hard to believe #VizForSocialGood hadn’t even been fully launched this time last year! In December 2016 I published a viz on suicides in UK prisons which you can view here. Chloe Tseng saw my viz on Twitter and asked if she could feature it on her new website, VizForSocialGood.com. Chloe was about to launch the #VizForSocialGood project and was looking for examples of other vizzes for good to share. Here is her tweet from last December:
Officially launched in January 2017, the #VizForSocialGood project has gone on to be a huge success and was even recognised at the Kantar Information is Beautiful Awards in November . I have participated in the project six times this year, submitting vizzes for the UN, UNICEF and the Central Asia Institute to name a few and I hope to complete many more submissions in 2018.
Rather than just vizzing for work or for fun, the project enables participants to put their data viz skills to good use for charities and non-profit organisations. I have used my submissions this year as a way to experiment with new techniques, whether it be infographic design or storytelling. Unlike #MakeoverMonday, the featured organisations will often offer style guidelines which they would like adhered to in any visualisations created. This adds another level of complexity as participants must work to a strict brief and may be restricted to certain colours or fonts. I view this as a good learning opportunity as we are more likely to encounter such design briefs in the real world.
Thank you to Chloe for setting up this project and for all of your support during the year. I had the pleasure of speaking to Chloe on a Facebook Live at the Tableau Conference in Las Vegas. As Chloe loves a selfie, here’s a photo of us both at #Data17 , shortly after our Facebook Live talk!
Tableau Public Featured Author
In June I was honoured to be selected as a ‘Featured Author’ on Tableau Public! This came as a huge surprise to me and I am so grateful for the recognition. Thank you to the Tableau Public team!
London Tableau Conference on Tour #Data17
The London Tableau Conference has featured as an annual highlight of mine for the last three years. This year was no exception and the event was better than ever. I won’t cover old ground as I have already blogged about my conference experience and highlights which you can read here. Below are a few of my favourite photos from the conference:
Viz of the Week
I started the year hoping at some point I would have a viz featured as ‘Viz of the Day’. In August my dreams became reality when my ‘The Average Age of Childbirth in the US’ viz was featured by Tableau Public as Viz of the Day! To my surprise my viz went on to be featured as Viz of the Week too, something which I never imagined would happen! Thanks again to the Tableau Public team for the recognition.
Below is the viz that was featured (click on the image to interact in Tableau Public). You can also read a blog I wrote about my design processes for this viz here.
#Data17 in Las Vegas
In October I attended the annual Tableau Conference in Las Vegas. This was without a doubt the highlight of my year! I have blogged about my conference experience already here so I won’t repeat myself but below are a few of photos taken in Vegas for you to enjoy:
The Tableau Community #WeAreDataPeople
The Tableau Community never ceases to amaze me and it is something that features in all of the highlights I have mentioned above. Since attending last years’ conference in Austin I have remained in touch with all of the friends I made there. Unfortunately for me the community spans the world so it’s not feasible to see many of these friends on a regular basis. Instead for 51 weeks of the year, 90% of my interactions with my Tableau friends are online; whether that be through sharing vizzes, working together on collaboration projects, sharing learnings, giving each other encouragement, joining or presenting online webinars, reading / writing blog posts or participating in (sometimes heated) Twitter discussions. The annual conference is the only time in the year that I get to see many of these friends in person, all in one place, hence why it’s such a precious, unique and highly anticipated event for me and many others. Of course, in between conferences there are more local events such as #LondonTUG, #DataplusWomen and the London Tableau Conference on Tour and I make every effort to attend these when I can as I love to meet new people and catch up with familiar faces.
It’s hard to believe that approximately 18 months ago I wasn’t really involved in the community at all and felt apprehensive when attending Tableau events, let alone speaking to people I didn’t know in the community. However, the community welcomed me with open arms and has given me more confidence than I could ever have imagined. None of the above highlights or even this blog would have been possible without the on-going support of the Tableau Community.
Thank you to all of those that have supported me this year (there are far too many people to mention individually and I would only forget somebody if I tried) whether it be by offering advice, giving viz feedback, collaborating with me on a project, liking or retweeting my tweets, reading my blog posts, citing me as inspiration for a viz or reaching out when I was stuck with a Tableau challenge. Thank you for making my year so special!
Here are a few of more my favourite pictures with Tableau friends from the last 12 months:
At the end of October and after six years of working for Mitie I was successful in securing an exciting new opportunity working for Capgemini as a Visualisation BI Consultant. I am certain I never would have gained this opportunity if it hadn’t have been for my passion for data visualisation and being able to evidence this passion through my contributions to #MakeoverMonday, #VizForSocialGood, #LondonTUG and my blog.
2018….Bring it on!
As for 2018, I am excited to see what the new year will bring. I will strive to continue everything I started in 2017 and aim to keep pushing myself to do better. As I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions, here are a few of my aspirations for 2018 (in no particular order):
- Continue to expand upon my Tableau skills
- Sit the Tableau QA exam
- Become a Tableau Ambassador
- Attend as many Tableau events as I can
- Write more blog posts than I did in 2017
- Learn a new data visualisation tool
- Do more public speaking
I am a firm believer in the notion of ‘the more you put in, the more you get out’. None of the highlights and achievements I have listed above have been easy and I have worked hard for each and every one of them. I’ll end with a quote which rings true to me. I hate to look back and think I could have tried harder with anything that I do. I strongly believe that if you continuously put in the effort and push yourself out of your comfort zone then good things will happen.
Happy New Year and all the very best for 2018!
Thanks for reading.