I went along to a Her + Data meetup this week, and as was the case when I attended the last two events, I came away feeling inspired and energised. This is a community of data enthusiasts in Dublin which was founded by Karen Church at the start of 2017. We heard lightning talks from three women who spoke about their careers and passion for data. Going to the event was a timely reminder that I needed to publish this blog, which has been in the pipeline for a while now. I’ve tuned into a number of Data + Women Virtual Tableau User Groups over the last year and they have really made a lasting impression. You can check out the latest webinar here, which was streamed live just after International Women’s day In March this year. In a previous blog post I mentioned how I was really inspired after listening to the webinar from March of 2017 and described how a number of the points raised resonated with me. I subsequently listened to one that was hosted by Chloe Tseng and Brit Cava and featured four impressive women in the world of Data Viz. They shared really great advice and I gained a lot from hearing the perspectives of each of the panelists, so I thought it would be worthwhile summarising the points in blog form. I haven’t been able to find a recording of this so if anyone is aware of one, please get in touch and I can add the link.
Data + Women Virtual Tableau User Groups
Each of the women were asked for their top three pieces of career advice, which are captured below. The panelists each had 10 minutes to speak. I subsequently contacted the two hosts to get their top three pieces of advice as well. Thanks to everyone for sending on their points!
Chloe co-hosted the event and her passion for encouraging women in the field of data can literally be felt coming through a computer screen. I’ve found it fantastic to hear her speak in these webinars. It’s great that we can be inspired by people halfway across the world and at times it’s so easy to take the technology that enables this for granted. I also got to meet her in person at the start of the year when she spoke about her fantastic initiative Viz for Social Good at a Data + Women Tableau User Group in Dublin. I love Chloe’s three points below and have been making efforts to put them into practice. I don’t think you can hear these points stressed enough, as it’s easy to relax back into a comfort zone, and allow fear to stop you from taking on new projects.
- Take on projects you’re only 70% qualified for, but then learn like crazy to bridge that 30% (from Andrew Ng).
- Surround yourself with people who want you to succeed
- Turn your passion into a social change
Brit was the other co-host and is also extremely passionate about the Data + Women movement. Together with Chloe she co-founded She Talks Data, which brings together women from around the world who work with data. Brit’s first point focused on the importance of investing effort in contributing to a community, and noted that the returns are ten-fold. She emphasised that you “may have to step out of your comfort zone and be bit vulnerable. Engage those you look up to, seek feedback from others, cheer on your community, and give back your wisdom. If you haven’t found the community you need – create it!”. She continued by saying you shouldn’t be afraid to “be the change you wish to see in the world” and regardless of your age, believe in the value of your contribution. Finally she noted the importance of setting time aside for things you enjoy doing.
- Contributing to a community is everything
- Be the change
- Take time for yourself
Ann’s enthusiasm for all things data viz and Tableau is contagious. She shared some tips and her first was my favorite across the board and one I adopted straight away. She started off by talking about the benefits of embracing the unknown and turning any anxiety into excitement and anticipation. When faced with a difficult task, say to yourself “I can’t wait to see what happens”. I have applied this lots of times since, when faced with a challenging task at work or at home. I find a smile appearing on my face as I say it, almost despite myself. I haven’t always managed to maintain this positive approach but remind myself of it every so often, when I catch cynicism creeping in. It’s amazing how a positive outlook can change your whole approach in the face of adversity. She stressed how it’s important to be aware of what you need more of or less of, and as an example mentioned needing more challenges from her circle of trust and less distractions at work. She finished up by emphasising the benefits of contributing and sharing your passion, which will allow you to connect with like-minded people.
- Embrace the unknown
- Know what you need more/less of.
- Contribute on a grand scale
Emily is the co-founder the Data+Women group in London and shared some great tips. She outlined how your career is defined by “how good your work is and how many people know about it” and stressed the need to keep improving and refining your work and promote your achievements. Her advice is to be open-minded and patient when finding people who share your “vibe, vision and values.” She identified that when it comes to the topic of Data + Women and running a group, it can be challenging because “gender is a construct everyone has an opinion on”. A This is an area I’ve given a lot of consideration to, as I really value networking opportunities that focus on women and allow us to make connections. Above all she highlighted the importance of hustling for what you want.
- Keep working and improving
- Try to be open-minded and patient when searching for your tribe
- Hustle for what you want
Amanda talked about transitioning into the field of data visualisation from her original discipline. She hadn’t been getting enjoyment from what she was doing and recognised the need for change. Sharing data visualisation content and encouraging people helped her to gain recognition in the Tableau Community. It was clear that she really gets a lot out of engaging with people and connecting through a common passion. She spoke about the importance of working in a way that suits you, acknowledging that different people work better at different times of the day. It has been important for her to understand the times that suit her and to try and stick to this. Finally she talked about finding what you love and ensuring you make time for that. If you’re doing what you love it will come easier and you are more inclined to work harder and reap the rewards.
- Don’t be afraid of change
- Figure out how you work best
- Do what you love (unless what you love is illegal)
Pragyansmita shared lots of fantastic tips, firstly highlighting the fact that “you are in charge of your career”. The theme of going beyond your comfort zone was again discussed. She noted how those first steps pose the biggest challenge (e.g. first project, first package, first tweet, first blog etc.) but once you have made the move outside your comfort zone the rest will flow. She spoke about the importance of sharing your passion and talking about your work. She highlighted her belief that you should be proud and stand over your achievements without coming across as arrogant (see this link that she shared with me for some more thoughts on this point). She covered the topic of building your personal brand and talked about sharing your story in a personal way while focusing on the positives and “lessons learned”. She then finished up with the great advice to “be yourself”, look at what makes you unique and value your experience, understanding your “why”.
- You are in charge of your career
- Share your passion
- Be yourself