#MadisonTUG Leadership Team Member - Spotlight Interview

Version 3

    I'm all about reusing good ideas. To that end this is a reuse of the "Spotlight Interview" series that was originated by Tracy Rodgers. Those interviews were a great way to get to know people. I would like to leverage the format for the Tableau Community to get to know members of our #MadisonTUG Leadership Team. Today I'm starting with Jen Shepherd. Jen is one of the newer members of our Leadership Team and recently took on the role of Meeting Leader for our Q4 event. You can find her on Twitter @JenShepherd10 and on LinkedIn.

    Jen Shepherd.JPG

    Patrick: Tell us about your background and your Tableau journey.

    Jen: I've been a data analyst for many years and have a doctorate in Social Psychology, but data viz is a more recent passion.  A few years ago I was an analyst and a project/team lead for a non-profit evaluation firm in Denver.  We wanted to add dashboards to our offerings, so after a review of several BI tools, I chose Tableau as one of two data viz tools for our team to use (this was around 2014, v8.2).  I received some Tableau training and did some small edits to things the team built, but mostly my role was to oversee the rest of our team, learn about and advocate for visualization best practices, and design how the dashboards should look and function without actually building them.  In my next job as a crime data analyst for the Wisconsin Dept. of Justice, I brought that data viz knowledge and interest with me and started developing worksheets and dashboards in Tableau and publishing them to Tableau Public for anyone to access, but it was a small part of my overall role.  Now in my current position - data visualization engineer at Forte - I use Desktop daily, publish regularly to Server, and have been learning more about Server's capabilities.  I mostly build dashboards related to clinical research trials for our clients (hospitals, cancer centers, academic medical centers, etc.) but have very recently started building some dashboards just for fun with publicly available data.


    Patrick: What do you like to do outside of work and Tableau?

    Jen: My husband and I own 40 acres south of Brooklyn where I spend a lot of time working on our vineyard (we expect to start selling the wine in 2019; my husband is the winemaker), working in our large garden, and enjoying the antics of our two Nigerian Dwarf goats.  I also like cooking, baking, volunteering, animals, travel, jigsaw puzzles, board & card games, painting, and especially reading.  I'm always looking for a good book recommendation!

    Patrick: What was your first exposure to the Tableau Community?

    Jen: The large community was one of the factors in my decision to choose Tableau as our BI tool initially.  I thought that a company with such an active and engaged client base had a lot to offer in addition to their actual products.  One of my favorite experiences with the community was receiving a solution (the correct one!) within a few hours to a question I posted in the forum that even Tableau Support hadn't been able to solve.  The responder took the time to understand my issue, come up with the solution, and respond very quickly with a packaged workbook and some suggestions for how his solution could be modified if needed. That's service!  Ben Page: if you're reading this, thanks again.


    Patrick: How did you hear about the #MadisonTUG?

    Jen: I was active in the Denver TUG when I lived in Colorado, so I searched for a TUG here after moving to Madison and using Tableau more regularly in my new job.  Happily, #MadisonTUG existed and was easy to find, and I attend every meeting I can.


    Patrick: With everything on your plate, what motivated you to take on a position on the #MadisonTUG Leadership Team?

    Jen: I've always had organizational tendencies and like to do my part and give back.  Being on the Leadership Team has not only been a great professional opportunity (receiving early previews, for example) but has also been an easy way to meet more people.  I know the other LT members now but as more of our TUG members recognize me from my leadership efforts, I hope to get to know them too.  We all already know we have at least one thing in common!  It's also a good conversation starter when meeting people at Tableau events, such as the annual customer conference.


    Patrick: Tell us about your first experience as a #MadisonTUG Meeting Leader?

    Jen: Thanks to you, the speakers were already lined up, which seems like it would be the most challenging part.  Finding a large, free venue was a little tricky, but Alan Koskelin was able to get us in at the Research Park.  It was fun to update the slide deck and present the slides to the group (with Rob Rowbotham, my co-leader), and it was great to have such a good turn out and an engaged audience.  I especially enjoyed the great conversations and camaraderie at the happy hour afterward.


    Patrick: What are you excited about in 2018 with Tableau and the Tableau Community?

    Jen: I attended conference for the first time in 2017 and hope to get to go to New Orleans in 2018 for more learning, networking, and socializing.  I'm really pumped about some of the new features in v10.5, especially better control over dashboard layout.  Sometimes arranging the content on the dashboard is unnecessarily painful and I'm elated the Tableau team has started tackling some of those frustrations and limitations.  At Forte, we expect to start designing our dashboards for mobile devices in 2018, which will be a new challenge.  I'm also hoping to take the Desktop certification exams - wish me luck!  Lastly, I'd love to see our TUG do at least one service project together as an opportunity to give back to the greater Madison area and also get to know each other better.  I'll be involved in moving that forward one way or another.