The Data School; 2 years on.
On the 23rd of June 2015, there was a spark in Central London.
And two years later, this spark is now a burning flame, which has been a roaring success.
I am, of course, talking about the Data School.
An idea started by Tom Brown, Craig Bloodworth and (perhaps the most important piece of the jigsaw) Andy Kriebel ended up in eight complete strangers taking a leap of faith and joining an immersion programme like no other. It promised four months of training in two market-leading data analysis applications, followed by 18 months of consulting at clients of the Information Lab.
And it worked.
It really, really worked.
5 cohorts trained (DS6 are currently in training)
702 blog posts
1238 Tableau Public vizzes
18 Viz of the Days
4 Tableau Ambassadors
For me, coming out of university, I had no idea of the size and impact that the Data School would have. In fact, Tableau was simply a tool which made my soccer charts look better, and made them more dynamic. Anything more than that (I thought at the time) involved some crazy coding – so I endeavoured to up-skill in the summer after university anyway, but in the end I was lucky enough to be offered a job with The Information Lab.
Between the numerous client projects, the public presentations (I’ve now done 7 public presentations – 3 webinars and 4 in person live) and the amazing expansion of my personal and professional networks, the opportunity to work and consult with the Information Lab has been great. My three placements were at BCG, Deloitte and Novartis (who are based in Switzerland!), and each experience lent itself to another learning experience.
At BCG, I built, ran, and developed training materials whilst balancing case work where we supported consultants. At Deloitte, I experienced the breakneck speed of being part of a consulting team with hard deadlines, iterating on the fly. At Novartis, I learned about strategically building out a Centre of Excellence, and supporting the development of enterprise scale rollouts of both Tableau and Alteryx, as well as the challenges that come with that.
And alongside all of this, the continued personal development, time management and extra-curricular activities have been paramount to getting me where I am and making me who I am today.
The best part? From day 1 with the team, I was assigned Brian Prestidge as my mentor – a true gentleman who spent nine years working in football using Tableau and Alteryx. The soft skills, application, and anecdotes from him were fantastic, and the opportunities which came from sharing my interests also helped my development. I attended two OptaPro forums, and developed my own style of sports dashboards which are both informative, beautiful, and applicable to different audiences, and of course, who can forget the Data School’s #TeamIago who attended Hack MCFC.
Since finishing the Data School, I was lucky enough to be offered the opportunity to join The Information Lab as a core consultant. How has this changed what I do day to day?
In all honesty? Not all that much. I’m still consulting with clients, but instead of one client for six months, I’m working with three clients in a week, six in a month etc. It’s a really fast-paced role, and fortunately there’s still the opportunity and time for more learning. In fact, I think I’ve learned so much in the last couple of months, purely given the wide breadth of clients I’ve worked with, as well as having the time allowed to reflect and develop.
My final thoughts are this; in June 2015, along with eight strangers I embarked on a two-year journey.
At the end, I’ve gained friends, colleagues, and the job of a lifetime – and it’s just the start.
A particular highlight is where I found myself, in the middle of July 2015 sitting working on a client project, or a dashboard and thinking – hey, three months ago, I was doing this for fun.
Now it’s my career.