An Interview with Kasia Gasiewska-Holc (Multi-VOTD Winner and Senior Marketing Analyst)

A weekly blog about the ‘data viz’-making process, #datafam / data analytics member interviews, & entertainment for introverts (consisting of a binge bite and music morsel).

Feature Interview

Mico’s Intro: Kasia (Twitter | LinkedIn | Tableau Public | Instagram) has been one of my favorite Tableau Public designers since my early community days in 2019. She was also an early Viz of the Week victor when our blog shared that prop. Although she doesn’t publish often, she more than makes up for output infrequency with work quality. Her vizzes consistently astonish me. Kasia’s design and application are otherworldly and when exploring deeper into her interactive work, you are left with so many found Easter Eggs, thrills and engaging bits. Besides that, she’s very kind, considerate, and humble. I highly encourage you to dig into to her portfolio to get a massive load of viz-piration.

Adam Mico (AM): You currently work as a senior marketing analyst for Refinitiv / London Stock Exchange Group. Unlike many people we have interviewed, your current position matches your educational background (M.Sc., Marketing, and Business Analysis).

In what ways did your education prepare you for your current role, and what were some things your education could not prepare you for?

Kasia Gąsiewska-Holc (KGH): I honestly believe my Master’s degree was one of the most important factors that shaped my current career path. Even though I did not know exactly what I wanted to do in my life at the time when I was enrolling at the Marketing and Business Analysis program, after getting my degree I had a very strong feeling that working in marketing analytics was a good fit for me.

My postgraduate program was only one year long but it really did help me to get my professional career started. However, the most valuable lessons were not about the stuff that you can find in the books, but rather learning how to think critically, how to question the status quo, how everything you do should be in some way purposeful, and last but definitely not least- my studies provided me with good problem-solving skills, that are so valuable to what I do at work. I must admit, in the beginning, it was quite difficult to adopt these newly acquired skills in my daily life as my undergrad studies were the complete opposite, but after a couple of years now I see a tremendous value in what I have learned during my postgrad studies. Not only at work but also in my personal life.

In terms of things that my university degree was not able to prepare me for, the main one would probably be a lack of any specific, data-viz-focused subject. The emphasis was always on working with big data, statistics, and data analysis itself. Although, at the time, data viz was in its infancy, so it’s hard to feel disappointed that it was never a focal point of my studies.

AM: How frequently do you use Tableau at work and what impact has it had on your customers?

KGH: I’m lucky to be able to use Tableau at work every single day, my job is primarily Tableau-based, with the addition of working with SQL when required. Stakeholders of my dashboard are entirely internal users including people across the marketing team who try to understand the impact of their marketing initiatives on deliverables and the overall customer experience. With well-designed dashboards, my team can help them to do a better job by providing answers to the most pressing questions about why certain things work out while others don’t. We take an iterative approach to a dashboard design, which is fueled by constant feedback from our stakeholders. I believe this is a key aspect of ensuring that dashboards that you build remain relevant to your stakeholders’ needs.

Priya Padham (PP) & AM: What was it about data analytics and data visualization that piqued your passion and did it hit you right away or was it a slow-building interest?

KGH: It definitely hit me right away! Data visualization combines two big passions of mine: working with numbers and design. When I’m not buried in SQL and numbers, I’m designing wedding stationery and I do a bit of modern calligraphy as well. So data viz was just a very natural next step for me.

It wasn’t until I started working at my current workplace that I was introduced to Tableau, but even before that I always tried to jazz up all Excel reports that I was creating for clients. Although I must admit, Tableau was a real game-changer in this aspect!

PP: What prompted you to join the analytics (social media) community & what are your tips for people starting in the community?

KGH: Unfortunately, I cannot remember who exactly told me about the #datafam Twitter community for the first time, but I remember it was an email explaining what the community is all about and encouraging me to join in. Before that, I hadn’t used Twitter at all. It’s been an amazing journey so far! The best part about the community is that it offers so many amazing initiatives that can help you to get started in the data viz field, such as Makeover Monday, Workout Wednesday, or IronQuest. So since the boost from the community and the tools are already there, my advice for any new members would be to not overthink it and simply get started! The community is extremely supportive, you’re guaranteed to learn tons along the way and improve your skills even if you think that you’re not as good as you would want to be yet. In the words of good ol’ Shia LaBeouf: JUST DO IT.

PP: What is your favorite thing about being part of the datafam community?

KGH: It probably comes as no surprise that I’m not the most active participant of our amazing #datafam community. It’s hard for me to keep up with all social media, to be honest! But I still love being a part of it. This is such an amazing source of inspiration, I’m in awe of all the amazing projects that people are sharing! It’s actually a bit intimidating — but in a positive, encouraging way! I think at this point the bar has been set SO HIGH that it really makes me work at least twice as hard on any new viz to make sure I always bring my “A” game (and I don’t embarrass myself!! 😁).

AM: You do not publish a lot of work on Tableau Public, but when you do it's mindblowing when considering your creativity, art, application of interactive elements, and apparent time it must take to complete from beginning to end.

As a fan of The Office (and Easter eggs), I particularly love your brand new viz, Dwight Schrute’s Computer. Please explain the viz from inception to development, and its iterations. It must have taken so much time to not only map out but align with so many fun elements.

Note: Since asking the question, this viz became Viz of the Day on 4/16!

KGH: Well, honestly, I never had as much fun working on a viz as I did while working on the “Dwight Schrute’s Computer” one! It was, however, a very complex and time-consuming project. I think I started working on it about one month before publishing. The original idea, if I remember correctly, was to simply analyze The Office characters by the number of lines and perform some sentimental analysis. But then I came up with the idea of embedding the viz/analysis in a Windows XP interface to make it look like it was Dwight’s computer. Before I committed to any proper work on this project, I had to test if some typical Windows functionalities would even be possible to replicate in the Tableau environment! These include, for instance, the log-in functionality, opening files from a desktop while keeping them actionable (for example, being able to scroll through the CV file or switching between pictures in the gallery) as well as the ability to open and close files. The last one was particularly tricky. Originally I wanted to utilize collapsible containers, but these do not allow for open and close buttons to be in different places on the dashboard- which was a non-negotiable requirement (can you imagine having to close a file on your computer by clicking on that files name on the desktop again rather than on the red X button at the top of the file?! Me neither!).

Once I figured out and tested the technical framework, I moved on to the two main data vizzes, that is the “Dwight Schrute’s Surveillance System” viz and the “The Prank Machine” viz. These were so much fun to create! The sentimental analysis was a bit tricky as I never did this in R but I’m happy I did so, as I’ve learned a new skill because of that!

Next, I worked on Windows XP interface elements. And oh booooi, that was a challenge! I would never expect it could be so hard to find some of the typical Windows icons such as the red close button or the old Outlook icon in a decent resolution.

As a final touch, I’ve added animations to the Screensaver tab (Will the logo ever hit the corner?), glitch title on the Surveillance System tab as well as little surveillance monitors on the same tab. I’ve also created a live clock at the bottom right of the screen with help of my talented and always supportive hubby Lukasz!

All in all, the viz went through a couple of different iterations, mostly because I tried to figure out the best way to display each file on the desktop while keeping it fully functional and allowing it to display little error messages when clicking on typical Windows interface icons that I did not want to be actionable.

But I’m happy that in the end, everything worked out just as I wanted! 😊

PP: Are there any specific future Tableau goals and plans or any vizzes currently working on?

KGH: I am not working on any new viz at the moment. I’ve actually been commissioned with a business logo design just recently so I’m probably going to immerse myself in this project for now.

AM & PP: Who are your ‘go-to’ people you always seek out in our community for vizpiration and what are your favorite vizzes of theirs?

KGH: It’s hard to single out any specific people because there are SO MANY amazing and talented individuals out there. But I must give credit to Ken (Twitter) and Kevin (Twitter) Flerlage (their site) who are my personal data viz heroes and helped me on many occasions (sometimes not even realizing it when I used some of their awesome chart templates). I am also an admirer of the work and aesthetics of other creators such as Sam Parsons (Twitter | Site | Favorite Viz of His), Judit Bekker (Twitter | Site | Fav Viz of Hers), and Federica Fragapane (Twitter | Site | Fav Viz of Hers).

I’m also frequently visiting pudding.cool as it’s always an endless source of inspiration to me. Plus it’s just totally 🆒.

PP: What music do you enjoy listening to when vizzing?

KGH: Typically, I would say progressive rock but recently I ̶w̶a̶s̶ ̶f̶o̶r̶c̶e̶d̶ ̶t̶o̶ volunteered to watch all Marvel movies with my husband. Since superhero movies are really not my cup of tea, the only way to compromise in this situation was to watch the movie with one eye and do the vizzing with the other (that’s probably why it took me so long to complete, ha!), leaving very little room for extra music time!

AM: Please share a guilty pleasure or fun fact that many readers may not know about you?

KGH: My guilty pleasure is definitely an uncontrollable affection towards TV shows of a very questionable intellectual value such as Don’t Tell the Bride, Married at First Sight, or Kitchen Nightmares (the last one I’ve binged watched at least 4 times already…).

Mico’s Odds and Ends

VizConnect

This session was so much fun. I said ‘excited’ way too much, but I was very excited to hear all of their journeys. It is funny when you realize you are saying a word too frequently, but your brain can’t tell your mouth to stop. Anyway, don’t let this take away from this incredible Tableau Featured Author Cohort and their inspirational journeys.

Chennai TUG

Right after hosting VizConnect, I went to present at the Chennai TUG. I was the final presenter after Brian Moore’s (Twitter | Tableau Public) insightful business dashboard demo and Sarah Bartlett's (Twitter | Site) helpful ‘Better Analyst’ presentation. Thanks Vinodh Kumar VR (Twitter | Tableau Public) for bringing us together and being a great host!

DataFam Remo Chat 4/17

Our monthly hangout was a lot of fun. New people were able to join us and we chatted about community, feedback, food, and random fun.

The form is always open and feel free to complete now as you will be added to next meetup!

Up Next…

  1. A super fun collaboration will drop on Wednesday. Priya and my viz will come a bit later, but am very stoked to share the next viz collaboration. It’s also musical. 😏
  2. A big announcement is coming in two weeks and one day. Wait for it!

Binge Bite

“The Keepers” is a Netflix documentary series I’ve had stored on my watch list for an extended period of time. I binged it recently and it was as gruesome and distrubing as I could have imagined. The docuseries is really about the survivors and is a worthwhile watch as their triumphs are inspiring despite the endured horrors.

Music Morsel

VC Pines is an under-the-radar soulful indie musician out of London. This track is well-crafted, has an early 70s vibe through a dynamic modern production with a bit of influence of Bill Withers’ “Use Me”. I also get just a hint of Ween and Beck’s 90s work, but without the self-mocking goofiness and more skill. He is definitely worth checking out.

#DataVizThoughts Editing Team

Adam Mico

Twitter | LinkedIn | Tableau Public

Priya Padham

Twitter | LinkedIn | Tableau Public

Keyrus US’ Tableau Evangelist and Tableau Ambassador | Data Leadership Collaborative Advisory Board Member. | Views are my own | Co-Editor: Priya Padham