Our next Tableau Ambassador Spotlight is on Pooja Gandhi. You've seen her in the forums quickly answering questions. She'll take on challenges that no one else will, and she's always willing to try something new. Pooja has been a member of the Tableau Community since 2014, just under two full years. And boy, has she made her mark! She's number 3 on the leader board - and is moving up.
Hope you enjoy this interview I had with her, as much as I enjoyed talking to her.
Tracy: How long have you used Tableau?
Pooja: I’m coming up on my two years in June.
Tracy: How did you get started with Tableau?
Pooja: When I started my job at work, they already had the license for the software. I was replacing the UI person there before me. I’m not really sure what the UI person was doing with Tableau. I started looking at his workbooks to kick start my projects.
Tracy: How long had Tableau been at your company?
Pooja: I think it had been around the company for two to three years. We had had the license for quite some time. It’s just that I joined pretty late in the game.
Tracy: Do you use Tableau for any personal data?
Pooja: That’s a pretty interesting question. I don’t get much time to explore my own data sets, per se. I think MakeoverMonday on Twitter has been a great addition to my life recently. Andy Kriebel and Andy Cotgreave have done a great job bringing the community together to create fascinating work. They’ve both taught me to think outside the box and focus on design, data, and key findings equally. Not just the data. At my job, I deal with multiple data sources, and I’m usually bogged down trying to make it work in a way that it acceptable by stakeholders, and as a result, sometimes I skip on good design aspects. MakeoverMonday has allowed me to go past that routine, and try something new. Something that I’ve always been a fan of – trying new things.
Also, though not personal, helping people on the community is something that I enjoy doing too. The unseen/unexplored data is not something that I would come across in my daily work life. So a combination of all those projects makes it quite an experience for me.
Tracy: Sometimes finding the data is the hardest part.
Pooja: It is! This year, I’m submitting my first ever Iron Viz entry. It’s been tough research to just look for the right data set. I think I’d like to tell the Tableau Public team to just give us a data set and see how people use that data differently. Different perspectives on the same dataset is what makes judging the right entry appropriate.
(This year’s Iron Viz content is about finding a food data set https://public.tableau.com/s/blog/2016/04/food-fight-announcing-our-first-iron-viz-feeder-contest)
Check out Pooja’s Iron Viz entry here: https://public.tableau.com/profile/poojagandhi#!/vizhome/Fooducation-IronViz/Fooducation
Tracy: So where did you end up finding the data for that?
Pooja: I have about 3-4 data sources that I’m using to create one story. Some data points that I found interesting were data sets that I actually created on my own by reading and scraping from a website (and then of course, giving credit to the website).
Tracy: How long did it take you to build it?
Pooja: Seven days. Day and night.
Tracy: Was it fun though?
Pooja: It was super fun. My sleepless nights were well worth it. Once it was done, I had to convince myself to leave my laptop at work so I can leave my Iron Viz alone!
Tracy: How did you learn to use Tableau?
Pooja: By myself. I broke down the workbooks that the previous user had at work. I wondered about how to do a certain calculation within Tableau and that’s when I came across the Tableau community forums. Initially, I didn’t bother much participating in the community. But, I read a few blogs and watched videos that were really helpful. Tableau’s own help guide and Knowledge Base articles were something that really helped me. I think that I actually read every word of the online help, and that really helped.
Although, even more than from reading the blogs and articles, I think I learnt a lot from helping people on the community.
Tracy: Oh my goodness! You read the entire Online Help? The Server guide too?
Pooja: Haha, yeah. The Server guide, no. Because at that point and even now, we don’t utilize Tableau Server. We recently purchased Tableau Online licenses so sharing interactive visualizations are easier.
Tracy: What’s your favorite Tableau project that you’ve ever worked on?
Pooja: Oh my gosh. That’s such an unfair question. I don’t think I have one. I think one that I really really like so far is my mobile dashboard I created at work for the first time last week. Until now, I created dashboards for regular size, regular devices, but nothing for mobile. When I showed it to my boss, she was like “Wow, this is amazing!” That’s one of my favorites…apart from my Iron Viz entry.
Tracy: So then, have you tried the device specific dashboards in the 10 Beta yet?
Pooja: Not yet, but I’m really excited to check it out.
This mobile dashboard was great though. My boss told me just the other day that she downloaded the mobile app. So it’s kind of nice to see people valuing and using Tableau more often now than how it was two years ago. Two years ago, I would create a dashboard and it would just sit on my computer because there was no way of sharing it, there was no way people were interested in leaving Excel. They weren’t ready to break the old habits and dive into something new and more useful. Things have changed for the better, so I’m pretty excited to see people come to work excited about using Tableau. It is motivating!
Tracy: So how many other people are using Tableau now?
Pooja: I am the only one authoring work on Tableau Desktop, while other users interact with my work on Tableau Online. I got them to buy two Tableau Online licenses initially. When they started to see the value interactive graphics can bring, we bought ten more. Happy to see it grow, even if it is slow.
We have two Desktop licenses, but only one is really being used. Recently, I had the Finance team take a look at it. They use huge spreadsheets that make your eyes bleed with formulas. I persuaded them to try and use Tableau to see all this data visually. The second license is now starting to be used.
Tracy: Wow, that’s pretty incredible! So what data sources do you typically use at work?
Pooja: My main one is Postgres SQL, apart from that I also use MySQL, MS SQL and sometimes Google Analytics. And very rarely I use Excel sheets if it is something I am asked to visualize for a one time need.
Tracy: What is your favorite feature?
Pooja: That is another unfair question. I like so many things about Tableau. One thing I really like after the 9.0 launch, is typing right in the shelf – in shelf editing. Even typing in calculator editors was more flexible than prior versions. Initially, you had to search the fields and double click the field to bring it in the calculator editor. Now you can just type in and it just pops up. That is nice!
And of course LODs, total game changer. I like them because you get to use them for context but still get away without using the pills in the viz.
Tracy: That seems to be a trend. A lot of people have said they love LODs. Ok, in a similar vein, what would you like to learn more about in relation to Tableau or data, in general?
Pooja: I am interested in learning more about web data connectors now because we have a few systems that use the web for surveys and other things. I have used it in the past with Twitter data for my personal use, but I have not really used work data with the WDC.
And I also want to learn R. I really want to see how it works with Tableau. I don’t know much about it, but I have heard some good things about Tableau integrating with R.
Tracy: What is your biggest feature request?
Pooja: Really? As of now? If you had asked me this question last week, I would’ve said cross database joins. But as of now, I can’t even think of anything that I want because something that I really really wanted is already out with 10.0. So that’s a question for next time!
Tracy: Fair enough. That just means our developers are doing something right! But moving on, what’s your favorite part about the Tableau Community?
Pooja: The Tableau Community is awesome in many ways. The best thing about the community is that you have volunteers who are truly amazing, have exceptional skills, and the fact that they do not shy away from answering or sharing their skills. One of the finer things about the community is its authenticity, trust, and knowledge.
It’s pretty authentic. When you ask a question, you instantly trust the person helping. There’s something about the community that is just so attractive. You do not really ask a question and then go away. You actually ask because you know it’s authentic, you trust the person and know they’re knowledgeable and highly responsive.
Another good thing about the community is that it is not geographically constrained to only the United States. It has users across the globe, and because of that, no matter what the time zone, help is always readily available. I have met some of the most amazing and very talented people, just in the past year. You can actually see their personalities reflect through their responses.
Tracy: What advice do you have for either new members of Tableau or of the community?
Pooja: If you ask in terms of posting a question, I would say give as much detail as you can. Considering we have people from all over the globe, you can’t even imagine the high speed response that you might get, just by giving all the details. Also, try to mimic your data sets or post a sample of your dataset. If you have an overly crowded workbook with a lot of fields that aren’t even being used or in the context of the posed question, it can seem quite overwhelming to volunteers.
Tracy: Do you have anything else you want to share with the community that you want them to know about you?
Pooja: All I can say is that I love a good challenge so if they have questions or they call me out I’m always willing to help out. I love the educational brain teasers that people come up with, I’ve used a lot of them at work. I enjoy learning new things from everyone and I love how Tableau is helping reduce the global gap!
To see Pooja's profile and start following her - visit: Pooja Gandhi
To see her on Twitter - @DrexelPooja
Check out her work on Tableau Public: https://public.tableau.com/profile/poojagandhi#!/