April 30, 2020

Passing the Grandma Test – How Chantilly is Simplifying Data for Every User

“Big data” is the biggest buzzword on Wall Street. Watches, phones, and even refrigerators are capturing data about the world around them, and businesses everywhere are learning how to process and make sense of this massive amount of information. People don’t naturally develop insights from spreadsheets and data tables, so Chantilly Jaggernauth is using the newest visualization tools to allow even users with the most basic computer skills to understand data.

Chantilly’s STEM journey started when she attended a health science and engineering high school. As a naturally gifted artist, Chantilly was able to channel her creative side by utilizing engineering computer programs that allowed the user to sketch real-world designs. After sitting in on only one introductory engineering class, Chantilly switched her emphasis from health science to engineering.

“I appreciated the way our project assignments were able to relate back to the real world. A lot of manuals and blueprints you see everywhere; we were creating those in high school.”

High school prepared her for acceptance into Howard University in Washington, D.C. where she majored in information systems, along with business-focused coursework. One professor gave her class a data project with no instructions. This important and challenging assignment allowed Chantilly to explore the world of data visualization (with some help from Internet search engines), eventually discovering Tableau.

“I decided [data visualization] was cool because I liked numbers and I was able to create meaningful insight.”

After graduation, Chantilly landed a role in talent acquisition analytics at Johnson & Johnson. Chantilly quickly climbed the corporate ladder, receiving a vice president position at Lovelytics as the VP of training and data visualization less than five years after graduation.

Chantilly credits her early success in the field to a mantra she now lives by: “keep moving forward.” For example, Chantilly had an opportunity early on in her career to sit on an advisory board panel with CEOs, COOs, and many people who have been in the industry decades longer than she had. Slightly terrified, she reached out to her mentor, another young African American woman who had climbed the corporate ladder quickly.

“She told me to say ‘yes,’ and that I was going to be the youngest in a lot of situations, but that’s okay! She said, ‘They wouldn’t want you there if they didn’t think you deserved to be there.’”

Per her mentor’s advice, Chantilly kept on moving fearlessly in the direction of her goals.

Chantilly is now empowering youth through data with her nonprofit organization, Millennials and Data. Her mission is to bridge the data literacy and analytical skills gap by training, mentoring and preparing millennials to enter a data-driven global environment. Most of these students are in non-technical fields, but with Chantilly’s help they can analyze finance and marketing reports utilizing data visualization resources.

For those looking to create their own data visualizations, Chantilly has a simple two-step process. The first step is to truly understand the depth of the problem and what the user is looking for. She recommends getting into the nitty-gritty details and figuring out what the project needs to accomplish. Step two: the data. How can data be used to tackle this problem? And further, if your grandmother were to view your data dashboard, would she be able to understand the answer?

Chantilly’s own passion for data visualization is a great example of how one person’s interest can create a ripple effect. Through her nonprofit work, she is allowing anyone with a curiosity the opportunity to learn how to solve problems with the infinite amount of data available.

“First, find your own voice and find your passion. Then, you can help others.”

Originally published by Wogrammer here. 

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