You can’t be what you can’t see. I think we’re all starting to acknowledge that. So today I’m thrilled to introduce you to someone I’d love to see reflected in the next generation of leaders in this industry, please let me introduce you to Michelle Hill.
I had the pleasure of working with Michelle on an amazing project which brought together numerous data sources from multiple government departments and to create a public portal to investigate and interrogate this data in a dynamic and user-friendly way. This project was my very first #VizForGood and I feel privileged to have worked on such an initiative. Michelle is a phenomenal woman in many ways; she’s one of the bravest people I know, she’s incredibly talented, knowledgeable and brilliantly technical – but more importantly – she’s the type of leader I really hope we see more of in this industry.
Why do you do what you do?
I’ve always been interested in numbers and facts so working with data was such a natural fit for me. I managed a large data team within a state government department for eight years before resigning in 2015 to set up my own business – Success Measures. I mostly work as a data ‘translator’, helping organisations to make sense of their data and bridge their business and analytic functions.
How and where do you find inspiration?
I’m inspired by people who bring data to life using visualisation tools such as Tableau. I’m particularly in awe of data journalists, as they turn complex and sometimes confronting information into a compelling and influential story. The Guardian was a pioneer in this field in establishing their unique and award-winning Data blog.
An early inspirer for me was Siu-Ming Tam from the Australian Bureau of Statistics who compared data to sheet music. Most people look at sheet music, see the notes, but have no idea what the music should sound like. A musician can bring that music to life. Data visualisation professionals play a similar role in bringing data to life. They help people find the story in what was once a bunch of meaningless numbers.
What advice would you give to other women looking to succeed in this field?
Don’t be afraid to challenge outdated thinking and ideas. Start small when trying to sell a concept or an idea to your organisation. Develop something simple and achievable – a prototype – that can be used to demonstrate the potential of your idea and to get buy in. Trust your gut.
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