Wow! What a year it has been.
2018 has been so eventful that it’s hard for me to recall everything that has happened in the past twelve months. I made a list of a few key moments from memory but looking back through my Twitter history I am reminded of so many other highlights. That’s one of the reasons I tweet (and perhaps an excuse I like to give for my ‘heightened’ Twitter activity). Twitter acts as a walking, talking journal; if it’s worth documenting, I’ll tweet it.
At the beginning of the year I made a few commitments to myself;
- To undertake more public speaking,
- To make a conscious effort to blog every month,
- To say yes more,
- To celebrate others & strive to inspire more,
- To become certified in Tableau Desktop,
- To continue to contribute to #MakeoverMonday & participate as much as possible
It’s worth noting that these weren’t resolutions (I don’t believe in them) but more notes to myself for things to strive towards or rules to abide by.
In reflection I think I did well in keeping to my commitments. Without going into too much detail;
- I spoke at more virtual and in-person events than ever before,
- I published a blog at least once a month, sometimes more,
- I said yes to more things than ever,
- I celebrated others as much as I could and hope I inspired some people through my work too,
- I achieved my Tableau Desktop Qualified Associate Certification,
- I participated in more #MakeoverMonday’s than I ever have done before (35 to be exact). Not as many as I had hoped for but more than in 2017 nonetheless.
However, I achieved more this year than I ever could have imagined.
Here are a few of my highlights (in no particular order).
Reaching 100 Tableau Public Vizzes
In August I published my 100th Tableau Public viz! This was a huge milestone for me. I could never have predicted the path my Tableau journey was going to take when I published my first viz to Tableau Public on 29th February 2016. I’m now at 121 vizzes and I have no plans of stopping anytime soon.
Read more about my 100 viz milestone here.
Becoming a Tableau Social Ambassador
Anyone that knows me will know how much I longed to join the Tableau Ambassador Program. I even cried when I saw the Ambassador wall in the community area at #Data17 having missed out on making it onto the program that year. However, I was incredibly lucky to be selected as Social Ambassador in July! What made it even more special was joining the program at the same time as some of my closest friends.
The Tableau Ambassador Program showcases amazing people in the Tableau Community; whether that be those that run user groups, those that are active on the forums, those that participate in conversations on social media or those who publish impressive vizzes to Tableau Public. The Ambassadors live and breathe Tableau and the community and it is such an honour to be part of the program. Thank you to everyone who voted for me and supported me along the way.
Starting a new role at Slalom
I began 2018 working in a role I was increasingly unhappy in. However, that all changed when I was approached by Slalom asking if I would be interested in joining them in March. I went on to join the London office in April and I couldn’t be happier. Slalom are a fantastic company to work for and it’s been so refreshing to work with a team that share similar values to myself and share a passion for helping others to understand their data. I was fortunate enough to attend #TC18 with Slalom this year too which was a fantastic experience and one which gave me the opportunity to meet some of our talented North American colleagues too.
Competing on stage at Iron Viz Europe
I never would have dreamed at the beginning of the year that I would end up in the Iron Viz Europe finals! Competing in Iron Viz Europe was a crazy experience and certainly one which I will never forget. It was a pleasure to be in the final alongside Dan and Klaus and sharing the experience with them made it even more enjoyable. What’s more, my sous vizzer, Saskia was awesome as were all of the other sous vizzers, judges, hosts and wider Tableau production team who were part of the event.
Read more about my Iron Viz Europe experience here.
Becoming Tableau Desktop Certified
In October I finally got around to sitting the Tableau Desktop Qualified Associate exam! This had been on my to-do list for a very long time but for various reasons I hadn’t taken the plunge. Thankfully, Slalom actively encourage us to become certified so as soon as I had a few days spare I booked-in my exam. Becoming certified is a great way to evidence your knowledge and I would recommend it to everyone, regardless of where you are on your journey. Next on my to-do list is the Tableau Desktop Certified Professional exam!
Read more about my exam experience and tips here.
#MakeoverMonday – THE book and the project
When Andy and Eva announced they would be writing a book back in January I was intrigued. They remained pretty tight-lipped about the book and it’s contents throughout the process. However, when I finally got to see the book in October I was blown away! Not only had they written 472 pages of incredibly important lessons on design, storytelling and analysis picked up from running the #MakeoverMonday project for over 2 years, they included 300 vizzes as examples of submissions from community too.
I am incredibly grateful to Andy and Eva for including some of my work in their book. What’s more they even used my work as an example of skills progression (even if this does mean that one of my most embarrassing vizzes appears on page 17!). I never dreamed that any of my vizzes would make it into print; especially not the earlier examples! I highly recommend obtaining a copy of the book if you can. It’s certainly one you’ll benefit from having in your collection.
As for #MakeoverMonday the project, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed participating again this year. I learn a lot of taking part in the project; I’m always inspired by how other people approach the same dataset and it’s rare if I don’t learn something new during the process. I also love the way that it welcomes new people into the community and uncovers fresh talent year after year. Some of my favourite vizzes I have published this year have been #MakeoverMonday submissions and I can’t wait to participate again in 2019.
The Vizzie Award ceremony, led by the Tableau Wannabe Podcast hosts Matt Francis and Emily Kund was held during the Welcome Reception at #TC18. As a result, there were many more people in attendance than in previous years (due to the more favorable scheduling) and the atmosphere was still buzzing after the opening ceremony parade. The Vizzies are open to non-Zens only and winners are nominated by the community. This year saw the addition of a particularly special new award for Community Leader. After the sudden passing of long-time Tableau Community member, supporter and friend to many Michael W.Cristiani earlier this year, Emily and Matt decided to rename the Community Leader award in his honour. I had the pleasure of meeting Michael at #data17 and have heard many stories of how great he was in supporting and encouraging others in the community. It seemed only fitting that they named the award after him.
Whilst standing in the Community area enjoying the ceremony I was surprised to hear my named called when I was announced as the winner of the ‘Must Run on Coffee or Coke’ award! This award goes to the person that never stops (literally) and must drink lots of coffee to stay awake. I happily accepted the award and sat back down to enjoy the remainder of the ceremony. Not long after my name was called again but this time I was being called to the front to accept the Michael W.Cristiani Community Leader Award! I couldn’t believe what was happening! I never expected to be nominated, let alone win such a highly regarded award. With my hands shaking in shock I accepted the award from Michael’s good friend and long-time community member Dan Murray. I remained in complete shock for the next few hours and still can’t quite believe it. Thank you so much to everybody that nominated me. It was such an honour to be recognised as a leader within the community and to accept an award named after Michael is particularly special.
#TableauFF is an initiative I have enjoyed supporting all year. I made my first #TableauFF nomination in October 2017 but made more of a commitment to promote people on a weekly basis this year.
#TableauFF (or Tableau Follow Friday) was started by the Tableau Public team to help highlight undiscovered Tableau Public authors. Every Friday on Twitter, people in the community use the hashtag to highlight people who are doing good work on Tableau Public but may not yet be widely known. According to the last refresh of Mike Cisneros’s fantastic viz, I have promoted 78 people to date using the #TableauFF hashtag, most of which were made in 2018 and at last count made me joint-top promoter alongside Simon Beaumont.
Since March 2018 I have also made more of a conscious effort to promote female authors through the initiative and I will continue to do so in 2019. #TableauFF is a fantastic way to promote undiscovered talent in the Tableau Community and I would urge you to get involved in 2019 if you can.
This year I had the honour of speaking at Tableau Conference for the first time with my good friend, Lorna Eden. Lorna and I spent months putting together a talk aimed at getting people more familiar and engaged with the Tableau Community. We believe there is a lot the community has to offer that people don’t know about so we decided to put together a conference talk to inspire people to get more involved. Lorna and I were delighted to deliver our talk to a full room, especially since our session clashed with many other talks led by big names in the Tableau Community. Watch the recording of our session here.
I also had the opportunity to speak at various different in-person and virtual events including #UKHealthTUG, The Tableau Wannabe Podcast, Podcast Your Data (x2), #MakeoverMonday Viz Review, #YouEqualTech (a women in data & tech-focused meet-up in London), the Tableau Visual Analytics Journey webinar, the Tableau Fringe Festival (North America) and Hashtag Analytics.
Thank you to everyone that gave me these opportunities in 2018. While I’m still not a huge fan of public speaking I believe it’s something that becomes increasingly less daunting with practice. With this in mind I hope to undertake more public speaking engagements in 2019.
This year was my second full year as a co-leader of #LondonTUG and (in my opinion at least) this was our best year yet! We organised a total of 11 events this year and featured a total of 24 speakers. 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 people to catch up with friends and make new connections at each event. It’s been an honour to be a part of the London TUG leadership team this year and I can’t wait to help organise more events in 2019.
Thank you to my fellow leaders Paul Chapman, 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. Also I would like to extend my thanks to all of our speakers, the Tableau Marketing Team, Jordan Scott and to all of the people who have attended TUG events this year. We wouldn’t have a TUG if it wasn’t for you all.
Viz in Review
In December 2018, Josh Tapley published a fantastic viz which enables Tableau Public authors to view a summary of their year on Tableau Public. I’ve included mine below.
I’ve been very fortunate to have some vizzes recognised by Tableau Public as ‘Viz of the Day’ this year. Furthermore, my European Cities on a Budget viz did better than I ever could have envisaged. That viz got me to the Iron Viz Europe finals, won crowd favourite in Iron Viz Europe, made it to the longlist of the Kantar Information is Beautiful Awards and was recognised by Tableau as one of the top 10 vizzes of the year! It’s no surprise therefore that is my most-viewed viz on Tableau Public.
Thank you to everyone who has supported my work this year. I encourage you to view your own #VizInReview using Josh’s viz too.
What’s next for 2019?
While 2018 was a busy year for me, I can’t wait to do more in 2019! Next year I intend to stick to the commitments I made at the beginning of 2018 but I also have some exciting new projects in the pipeline.
In 2019, Ann Jackson and I will be following in the footsteps of Giorgia Lupi and Stefanie Posavec (and later Andy Kriebel and Jeffrey Shaffer) to undertake a Dear Data project. This will involve creating our own hand-drawn visualisations on postcards based on data we have collected each week and then posting them to each other. With the launch of ‘Observe, Collect, Draw’ this year (the follow-up to Dear Data) I realised that hand-drawn visualisations were something I wanted to become better at. I thought a Dear Data-style project would be a good way of practicing these skills and would help me to remain accountable through the year. I reached out to Ann to ask if she would like to partner up on this project and thankfully she accepted. We have already undertaken a ‘test’ week (although my postcard is still somewhere in the mail system between England and the US) and I’m looking forward to getting started properly next week. I’m certain we’ll find a way to link this back to Tableau too. Watch this space!
I’m launching a new project, #IronQuest in January. Read more about it in a separate post here.
Apart from that, 2019 will involve a continued focus on expanding my skills in Tableau (and data viz in general), gaining more certifications, writing more technical blog posts, more public speaking, more blogging, more #WorkoutWednesday’s, participation in ALL Iron Viz feeders and continuation of much of what I focused on in 2018.
Thank you to all of the people who formed part of my year and have supported me in my journey. There are too many to mention but you know who you are and I appreciate you all. I can’t wait to see what 2019 holds.
Happy New Year. Wishing you a year full of happiness, success and prosperity.
Thanks for reading.