Life as a Data Visualization Manager

Have you ever wondered what life as a Data Visualization Manager is really like? What does it take to get there and do you stay on top of the game?

As part of our “Life as a” series, we caught up with Alex Newman, Data Visualization Manager at Sunlife to give you a little more insight – if you are considering a career within data or insight, or are planning on adding an expert to your team – you can find some first-hand perception right here.

Tegan @ ADLIB: In approx. 30 words and plain English, what do you do?

Alex: Data Visualisation essentially means I paint pictures using data – It’s taking information, transforming it and then creatively showing it in a variety of ways to deliver useful trends and insights.

Tegan @ ADLIB: What’s your background, what has been your career journey so far leading you to where you are right now?

Alex: I started out working across a variety of industries in data analyst type roles, which then transitioned into more insight-based roles, as I always enjoyed doing more investigative pieces of analysis and trying to tell a story using data. After feeling like I’d completely exhausted every type of excel sheet my brain could come up with, I started to teach myself how to use Visualisation/BI Programs and began building visual dashboards to replace existing reporting.

In my current role, I’m working to shape a new build of MI reporting which will track through all stages of marketing activity and across various products, to be used in driving the business strategy.

Tegan @ ADLIB: What do you like most about your job?

Alex: I really enjoy getting to be creative in drawing up what types of visuals will fit a requirement in the best way. I find designing which colours, layouts and themes really fun, along with the challenge of trialling out which method most effectively displays to the end user what the data is telling them. Additionally, working out how to build visuals in a dynamic way that allows the user to interact with the data and not rely on anyone to manually churn a report out is really satisfying.

Tegan @ ADLIB: What has been your career highlight so far?

Alex: To be honest it’s probably just the simple fact that I ended up discovering a path I wanted to go down – I didn’t know what I wanted to do career wise for a long time and felt I was just going through the motions. Getting out of that slump, dedicating time and energy to teaching myself highly useful skills and being able to market those effectively to progress my career is something I’m immensely proud of and will continue pushing with. 

Tegan @ ADLIB: What are 3 key things you consider when choosing an employer?

Alex: Team Chemistry – I think the most important thing is the chemistry within the teams and people you’ll be working with most closely. Meeting and integrating with a new group of people can always be daunting, and naturally can take a bit of time to develop a comfort level.  Something I’ve historically overlooked during an interview process was not getting a good sense of shared interests within the team and how your personality types would match up. When coming to Sunlife I felt it was a really strong match, which made my start so much more comfortable than in previous roles. 

Group Activities – It’s always a big attraction for me if an employer makes a good effort to organise events and set up social/activity groups. I’m always keen to try and get involved in any kind of sporting or activity groups going, because besides enjoyment in the activity itself it’s also a really great way for getting to meet and strengthen relationships with colleagues.

Existing Reviews – It’s very easy to access existing/previous employees experiences online on places like LinkedIn, Glassdoor to get an idea of what that employer might be like to work for and how employees are valued. Of course, some online reviews should always be taken with a pinch of salt – I’ve seen people leave genuinely bad reviews for paint that didn’t manage to prevent their toddler drawing on the wall in crayon…

Tegan @ ADLIB: What 3 top tips would you give someone to ensure that their skills and knowledge remain top notch?

Push yourself into uncomfortable situations, don’t beat yourself up when failures happen (as long as you learn something from them), and never stop trying to learn new things.

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Senior Recruiter

Data, Insight & Analytics

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Tegan Fenn