Interview with Amarendranath Donthala


⭐ Hello! What’s your background, and what exciting project are you working on?

Thanks for having me, I am Amarendranath Donthala. I’m working as a Data Visualization Analyst at Comcast. I finished my Master’s Program in Business Intelligence and Analytics in 2017. As on date, my personal projects are on hold but I have plans for some collaborative work later this year.

⭐ What motivated you to get started with Data Visualization/Tableau?

My teachers from Saint Joseph’s University (Dr. Katie Campbell). We started using Tableau for our assignments. I met our current Tableau Ambassador Corey Jones at school. One of his early #MakeoverMonday dashboards really peaked my interest. A couple of meetings with him and tableau user group later, I was hooked.

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⭐ Can you explain the process you follow from start to end of visualizing the data?

Requirement Gathering – When I am working on a Project that involves collecting open data. I try to put down a rough storyline and try to collect as much data as possible on the topic. If I am lucky I might come across a straightforward (rarely the case) data set. But often, I try to prepare a dataset after applying some transformations on it.

Data Exploration – This is straightforward. A low-level exploratory analysis to begin with. Getting a sense of all the available variables. Depending on the type of analysis I do, I take a deeper look at the data. Asking questions, framing a hypothesis and finding answers is the key.

Data Visualization – Once I have everything that I need for my story, I then start thinking about coming up with something effective. I don’t have an exact answer to tell you about how I choose my chart types. When you read books, practice often and mimic others I think you start to naturally understand a chart type for your insights. I learned this by making a lot of mistakes, not everything that I do works all the time. It is always a learning process. I try to very careful on not to publish or show something misleading.

⭐ What’s your secret behind spinning off 70+ visualization on Tableau public?

There is a lot to learn in this field and I try to stay consistent by practicing and visualizing different data sets and I really enjoy doing it. A Majority of my work on Tableau Public was for either #MakeoverMonday or #WorkoutWednesday social data projects. (Started by Andy Kriebel, Tableau Zen Master)

⭐ Have you found anything particularly helpful or advantageous along your journey?

Yes, a lot of practice and the Tableau community on Twitter. Participating in #MakeoverMonday, #WorkoutWednesday helped in learning both Tableau and data visualization best practices in general. When you are a part of the community, you come across a lot of tutorials, conversations, tips, and suggestions on a daily basis.

⭐ What are some of your favorite visualizations that you built?

Some of my favorites would be the following (no particular order)

1. Indian Parliament: 16th Lok Sabha: It was a collaboration with my good friend and Tableau Public author Shivaraj. It was selected as the ‘Viz of the Day’.

2. Mental Health Disorders: I designed this for Olga Tsubiks ‘Data for a Cause’ initiative. It won the 1st place. I learned a lot about Mental Health awareness and what organizations like OSMI are doing to help individuals realize the importance of Mental Health.

3. Crimes in India: One more collaboration with Shivaraj, it is currently a part of Tableau Greatest Hits gallery. Both of us are super proud of this one.

4. Apple Watch Rings: I am big Apple fan, clean designs & quality products. They are the best. The day I bought my watch, I wanted to visualize those rings. I had so much fun doing this project and hence into my fav’s. Shout out to my good buddy Jake Riley who helped me with this one.

5. Endangered Cat: This was my entry for Tableau IronViz, 2017. A very emotional piece that moved me to adopt a Tiger (WWF Program, please look it up and adopt one) by the time I finished the visualization.

⭐ If you had to start over in Data visualization, what would you do differently?

Great question. I would get a thorough understanding of data representation and visualization best practices and save myself from using unnecessary chart Junk.

⭐ What are your goals for the future?

Data and Design are independently two different and vast subjects. I would like to explore, learn and develop more skills in these areas.

⭐ What’s your advice for people who are just starting out in Data Visualization/Analytics space?

Begin with the basics of data analytics – Understanding, Cleaning and Preparing Data and then move on to Data Visualization – Presenting your Insights in a user relatable story.

Data Analytics: I would recommend getting familiar with the data analysis process. Books like Accidental Analyst are really great in laying out a strong foundation. Statistics will really help if you want to get into building data models, make predictions etc.

Data Visualization: Pick a tool of your choice, find like-minded people and start working together, keeping each other accountable. You’ll be surprised how much you’ll learn from each other when you collaborate. One of the books that I highly recommend is Storytelling with Data. If you are into Tableau then I would suggest creating a twitter account and start participating in the community challenges like #MakeoverMonday and #WorkoutWednesday. With time everything will improve. You just have to read, learn, practice and repeat.

⭐ For people interested in Tableau, which platform and authors do you recommended they follow?

Fantastic question. I would highly encourage and recommended joining the Tableau forums and Twitter! I follow over 500 authors on Twitter, it’s hard to recollect all of them but here are a few:

Tableau Zen MastersAndy Kriebel, Pooja Gandhi, Adam Crahen, Chloe Tseng, Ken Flerlage, Ann Jackson, Eva Murray, Mike Cisernos, Rody Zakovich, Jonathan Drummey, Adam E McCann, Jeff Shafer, Ryan Sleeper are a few, to begin with. I think you should look up and follow all the Zen Masters.

Tableau Ambassadors Rajeev Pandey, Corey Jones, Luke Stanke, Curtis Harris, Jonni walker, Skyler Johnson, David Pires, Brittany Fong, Filippo Mastroianni

Tableau Featured Authors Chantily Jaggernauth, Shawn Levin, klaus Schulte, Jeff Plattner, Tarannum, Divya Bharathi, Mina Ozgen, Pablo Gomez

You should also follow the #VizitPhilly crowd – they are awesome! – Josh Tapley, Thomas o Hara, Jake Riley.

And lastly, this is very important that you do this – Follow me :p

⭐ What Books and Blogs do you recommend?

Blogs: All blogs by the above authors, #MakeoverMonday #Vizreview blog posts, Information Lab, Interworks, Tableau Public Blogs.

Books: Big Book of Dashboards, Storytelling with Data, The truthful art, Accidental Analyst, Steal Like an Artist, Effective Data Visualization, Information Dashboard Design, Data Points, Show Me The Numbers.

⭐ Where can we go to learn more about you?

You can follow me and my work on Twitter and LinkedIn. If you want to know me beyond my work then may you should sit down with our #VizitPhilly crowd or stalk me on Facebook.


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