2 minutes with… Anya A’Hearn of Datablick

2 mins with title2

Hello!

Man I’m busy. Got 2 presentations to prepare for the Tableau Conference in Seattle, another couple later in the year and a ton of eager Tableau users to satisfy at work. Oh and I’m trying to move house as well. All a bit chaotic at the moment. Probably explains my lack of Tableau public vizzes recently..

Screen Shot 2014-08-15 at 22.18.47At least I’ve had the pleasure of a chat with the one and only Anya A’Hearn of Datablick. Most of you probably know her stuff, cos she’s flippin ace. That’s all there is to it.

On with the show…

VN: So who are you then and what do you do?

AA: Anya A’Hearn, Data Viz Consultant @DataBlick.

VN: Tell me about your org

AA:   DataBlick is a boutique Tableau consulting firm in San Francisco with clients including a leading global payments technology company, as well as clients focusing on marketing attribution, education, and mobile communication.  

VN: How do you use Tableau?

AA:  How do I not use Tableau?… I think I am a certified junkie at this point :-).  I have been in the BI space for over 20 years and have enjoyed watching the space and tools evolve.  I have a background in Economics and Product Design, so when I first saw Tableau, it just magically clicked.  Tableau allows me rapidly prototype, build, and deploy data products that people delight in using and interacting with.  Watching a user be able to see data that is useful to them, and light up instantly with an “ah ha!” is amazingly rewarding.  While it is not always the right tool, when it is – the impact is phenomenal.

VN: What has the impact been on your business?

AA:  At this point, doing Tableau work pretty much is my business.  There is currently a such a huge demand for developing Tableau dashboards and reports, that has become the main tool I use.

VN: Who do you learn from in the Tableau community?

AA:  I don’t know many other BI tools that have such an amazing community, especially the folks who respond to forum questions and post amazing how to’s like Joe Mako, Jonathan Drummey and Noah Salvaterra.   I also am inspired by the very talented folks who post to Tableau Public and constantly come up with new ways to use Tableau like Allan Walker and his mapping work.  I am lucky to live in the Bay Area and our user group meetings are like a Who’s Who of Tableau.  I have reached out to so many folks with questions, and the response was always helpful, mindful, and supportive.   If you love the work of someone in that you see, reach out to them with well formulated questions and examples, and you are sure to get a response that will lead you on the right path.  I have been inspired by so many and continue to be inspired by all the ways that users bend Tableau to do what they need to do.  Not all of it may be data viz best practices, but the sheer will to push the boundaries of what is possible is the most inspiring.

VN: In your opinion what should we be mindful of in the BI space going forward?

AA:  I would love to see BI tools focus on more access to unstructured data, data via API’s, and live data feeds.  I talk to data scientists and data viz designers that are just starting out and they are like “Ewwww, SQL?  I have to actually learn that?”  I might as well be talking about learning to Waltz as far as they are concerned.

VN: Could you give me an interesting non-work fact about yourself?

156425_10151201203844518_598573279_nAA:  Well when I am not working, I am playing with Tableau (my Public Viz’s), enjoying my kids, baking really delicious cookies, cheering for my SF Giants, or volunteering by contributing data viz work to non-profit organizations.  You have a new Data Viz Super Power!  Go use it for good!

Awesome stuff, thanks to Anya for sparing the time to chat. I’m looking forward to our joint session at Data14. Should be fun.

Until next time, Paul

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2 minutes with… Emily Kund of National Bank

2 mins with title2

Hello!

Here we go again! And they said it would never last! They said I’d amount to nothing! And here I am with top BI talent literally fighting to get a piece of “2 minutes with” action. Woah there guys – form an orderly queue. Especially you @pgilks – you’ve already had a go remember?

This time we extend a HUGE welcome to Emily Kund (@emily1852) a National Bank Examiner at the Office of the Controller of the Currency in Washington, D.C. The opinions expressed below are those of Emily and not her employer.

Quite simply – she’s mega! Our current favourite blog is a must read

VizNinja (VN): Hi Emily, how are you?

EK: Doing well, thanks for asking!

VN: So who are you then and what do you do?

kundEK: I’m Emily Kund. By day, I’m a National Bank Examiner turned Team Leader, responsible for reporting and analysis for a subsection of financial institutions, supervised by a bureau in the federal government.  By night, I try to be an awesome mom to two wonderful, smart, crazy kids; Alex (6) and Katie (3).

VN: How did you start using Tableau? And how are you using it now?

EK: I tinkered with it a few years ago, just to see what I could do, but didn’t have any formal Tableau projects.  Then, in 2012, I used it for my first project, which is now monitored by senior management! I guess it follows the saying, go big or go home! By the way, I had help from the Tableau guy in my office…that sucker was super complicated!! Now, I rarely develop visualizations for work. My role is to provide feedback on reports and analyses that the team produces and, along with folks in my division, develop and implement a reporting and analysis strategy.

VN: How have you seen Tableau make an impact on businesses?

EK: The biggest impact I’ve personally seen is that we are now exploring the data we have collected for so long.  Because it’s fast and easy to whip up a basic workbook, we have better insight into our data.  We can start asking questions about the data and refine our process for data collection and management.  Further, it’s been pretty awesome to see data sources to come together into one workbook and provide users the ability to see what’s going on, at an aggregate and detail level.

VN: Who do you learn from in the Tableau community?

EK: You’re gonna run out of space.  There are tons of people!!! I think the ones that immediately come to mind include:

Anya A’Hearn
Andy Cotgreave 
Kelly Martin
Andy Kriebel
Matt Francis
Jonathan Drummey
Jewel Loree
Peter Gilks
Paul Banoub..you know him?
Dan Murrray
Ramon Martinez
Ben Jones

Allan Walker

EK: Even though that seems like a long list, it’s really just scratching the surface. The Tableau community really is extraordinary. And if someone isn’t on the list, my apologies, I’ll buy them a beer at the customer appreciation party!

VN: In your opinion what should we be mindful of in the BI space going forward?

EK: This is my biggest thing…I think it needs to be easier to use the data.  Because my experience has been that the data hasn’t been gifted to me in just the right way, and I’m not a data person, that including the functionality in the tools to make it easier to work with the data will be huge! Tableau is making it easier for the user to blend data.  I think that is a super important path to continue down. I’m a really big believer into turning data into information and initiatives such as easier data blending should make it easier for anyone to do just that.

VN: Could you give me an interesting non-work fact about yourself?

kund2EK: I’m pretty random! In addition to loving makeup and reading, I enjoy a good game of (American) football!  My favorite team is the Washington Redskins, who had a terrible season this year! Hopefully they can turn it around over the next couple of years and get another Super Bowl ring at some point in the not too distant future.  A little trivia for ya…there are four teams in the NFC East (New York, Philadelphia, Washington, and Dallas). Of those four, Philadelphia is the only team in the division to not win a Super Bowl! Of the other three teams, Washington has the fewest number of rings, totaling three. Oh, and I like working out–especially strength training. My most favorite exercise is the angled leg press, followed by squats, then single-leg deadlifts. Oh, and I like Wonder Woman…I have all kinds of Wonder Woman stuff in my office!

VN: Thanks for your time Emily!

EK: Thanks for having me. Hope to see you in Seattle!

Well that was a pleasure. Thanks so much to Emily for sparing the time.  Tune in next time for more words of wisdom from the BI community.

Regards, Paul