Episode 12: Starting your First Data Job? Communication Tips from a BI Analyst & Former Tableau Ambassador, Mujahed Syed

Are you starting a new data role? Or maybe you are new to the data viz world? If either is true, listen to this interview with BI Analyst Mujahed Syed, a Phoenix Tableau User Group co-lead and former Tableau Ambassador. He shares his communication tips as well as how he presents his dashboards to his clients. 

You can also listen on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Spotify.

What You’ll Learn in this episode

  • Communication tips for new Business Intelligence Analysts
  • Tips on how to deliver and demo dashboards
  • Additional advice for someone new to data visualizations
  • How to get involved with the online data communities and data challenges

About Mujahed

Mujahed Syed works as a Business Intelligence Analyst at one of the leading Analytics Consulting companies based in the US. He is passionate about helping stakeholders see and understand their data easily and helping people become data literate. Prior to his current role, Mujahed was a graduate student pursuing a master’s degree in Computer Engineering from Arizona State University. 

Mujahed is a former Tableau Ambassador and currently serves as one of the co-leads for the Phoenix Tableau User Group. He likes to be actively involved in the greater DataViz/analytics communities.

How to Connect with Mujahed

You can find him on LinkedinTwitter, and Instagram

Get in Touch with Hana

Let me know what you think of the episode, you can message at hana@trending-analytics.com or on Instagram @hanalytx.

If you are looking for podcast updates and want additional tips on how to visualize and present data sent straight to your inbox, then make sure to subscribe to my weekly data letters here.

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If you enjoyed this episode, check out this episode where I share tips on ways you can improve your data visualizations as well as this one on how to provide data viz critique.

Episode Transcript

In today's episode, we have a guest, Mujahed he is joining us on the show today. He is a business intelligence analyst at one of the leading analytics consulting companies here in the U S and he is also a former Tableau ambassador and currently serves as one of the co-leads for the Phoenix Tableau user group.

So welcome, Mujahed. Thank you so much for coming on this.

Hey, Hannah. Thanks for having me. Oh, it's a pleasure to be on the show. 

I remember that when we when we first met, it was actually last year, almost a year ago, I think. And you reached out, w did you hear about me through clubhouse? Was that how you read.

Yes. So I remember last year at a similar point clubhouse was like the new buzz and everyone was hosting these clubhouse rooms and I somehow stumbled upon your data was and presentation club. And I I saw that you were hosting these clubhouse rooms related to data presentation and data with. And inviting a different guests as well. So I guess, Yeah, that's how I, came across you. and then I reached out to you via LinkedIn.

I'm so glad that you did because we ended up co-hosting a really great session on clubhouse, on data literacy. I believe. Ben Jones, the founder of data literacy.com and it was a really great conversation. So I'm really glad that you took the initiative.

You mentioned that you're a business intelligence analyst, and I'm curious if you can share some of the different ways you've had to communicate your work to others and which ones you found that you do more often.

So as a business intelligence analyst it really depends on who I'm communicating with to decide what medium I'm going to be using. So so far I've made use of both reports, dashboards, both offline and the ones which are hosted on web as well. These are when I'm mostly communicating with the actual stakeholders of the data and the ones who have to make decisions using that data. But otherwise I often use different kinds of slide decks or. You know, PowerPoint templates when it's you know for the purpose of some kind of internal communication with my managers or internal teams to decide next steps on a certain project and how things are going. When I sort of thought of using slide decks or even word docs and, Before the remainder of times let's say there's an ongoing project and I need to do some kind of knowledge transfer to other analysts or a engineer joining us on the team. I prefer using. Google doc word doc, uh, to properly articulate all the technical steps we've done so far in the project. So that it's a lot easier for them to just go through that document. And then if they have any questions, they can always get back to me. So I say I used I shared dashboards most often as the way of communicating with any stakeholders. 

You mentioned dashboards is the main form of communication. What's like the second more common form that you communicate your work with them.

It's a technical person I'm communicating with, it's mostly a list of steps. Well documented in the form of either a word doc or a Google doc. But if it's a non-tech manager who just wants some updates on the current project, I prefer using a slide deck. They won't really need to know all of those.

They will not 

prefer knowing All of those technical 


exactly. Yeah. So that's when I prefer using and my slide deck. I mean, I just try to summarize everything within one or two slides. I just don't want them to go with, I don't know, eight or 10 slides just for a quick update. So I try to summarize everything in a slide when I'm trying to give updates on my. 

Got it. What pain points have you noticed other business intelligence analyst experience? When they're starting off in their first job and when it comes to communication and what advice would you give?

 So as a, as a business intelligence analyst tools as someone who's just starting out, oftentimes I've noticed that people struggled with translating the requirements and what they need to create, like understanding what your stakeholders actually want to see. So you might face some difficulty in a sleep when you're just starting off and understanding the requirements which I would say that, you know, do not be afraid to ask us questions as you are. So that you will have a very good understanding of what actually needs to be done. And then once you have that if you have any other follow-up questions, just go back to them and do not hesitate to set up times your stakeholders. If you have further questions.

Yeah, that makes sense. Anything. I don't know, this applies to business intelligence analysts as well. But I remember when I was an entry-level analyst I would not only be communicating to my target stakeholders, but also to other folks who may be interested in the topic or my managers or my team members.

And I would have trouble actually identifying who, keeping in mind who my target stakeholders are and making sure that my communication is like targeted to the him and not everyone and diluting my message and the process. That's what I struggled with at the.

Yes. This happens at art as well, because once you're done, you've understood the.

requirements. Now you've created some deliverable. How do you actually communicate that out? Right? Who needs to see you? 


let's have, when you're doing like a walk through a dashboard you've just created can be both tech and non-tech people on the call. So what I like to do is I start off by giving agenda overview of what the dashboard is about. And then at one time Dan giving the overview, I asked people in the call do we want to go into the more deeper implementation or in that technical detail? How we build this and then people generally are very open to you know, sort of setting on-call if they put a foot or is that actually interested in listening to the technically there's are some people are okay, I'm good here.

I can drop off. So, uh, you can always just be ready to that. And it'll even by giving them most and just ask people who wants to go into in that technically is, or not, I guess. 

When you are delivering dashboards as a deliverable to your target stakeholders as like the final product, do you usually just send them the dashboard with instructions on how to use them? Or do you also like, like, how do you, I guess, onboard these stakeholders in using the final.

That's a great question again. So, Usually I create dashboards, I try to include like on the upper right. Four net of the dashboard, which the users can actually click. And then it's kind of like the exclamation mark or the question Margaret that you can basically make use of any item you want when the users click on it. You get like an overlay on top of the dashboard and then it has instructions on which element of the dashboard that's what, or, you know, give you information about what then. Beacon obviously use, you know what I like to call those titles, which I guess Hannah, you covered in one of your data facilities. 

And just one more thing to add to that. So So why did I do this why don't integrate this component of instructions or the help I can on my dashboard. I also prefer to give like a brief walk through of what the dashboard is about. And then whenever I do that the stakeholders definitely the calls make make sure that I got that and then share it out 

Oh yeah, I've done that a few times and I find that it's so helpful to have that recorded because then it can be, or. To other folks who are interested in using the dashboard and it saves you a lot of time from having to do this demo or presentation over and over again to multiple people.

That's like a, yeah, it's a great way. I think it's also, I found that these video or the screen recordings of walking through things like dashboards is actually a lot easier for people to follow then instructions. You can have written instructions as well that people can refer to as needed because it's easier to see.

Texts then videos. But yeah, I find that really helpful for a lot of people to learn this way. So thank you for sharing all these useful tips when it comes to dashboarding and communicating to stakeholders. Can you tell us which data communication skills you are currently honing 

yeah, so right now, I guess since we're all and at a mortar hybrid work environment, the biggest work that all facing is how to engage that audience. And I guess that's the communication skill I'm currently working on honing as well, which is, you know, creating, engaging what your presentation deliverables.

And I know Hannah, you recently came out with a course, exclusively focused on this. I did get the course subscriptions, unfortunately, then find time. Yes. To go through. 

No worries.

I'm pretty sure, but I'm pretty sure that, you know, you also us would be like the perfect tool for anyone who's trying to hone the same communication skills 

Well, thank you so much for that. Shout out. I for those listening, I did not make my dad say this. So thank you so much. 


When we got introduced to each other last year, I remember at that time you were a TA for data visualization students at Arizona state university.

What were some common areas you saw these college students struggle with when you were teaching?

 I feel like my time as a TA helped me learn a lot myself when it comes to data visualization and communicating data like this. I was I was the end user for a lot of these data visualizations. So when I was presented with, you know raw data visualizations, which all these students were creating. I noticed some of the key concepts that are covered and all of these gate books, like storytelling with data and so on it. So, I tell you what I noticed the most. Oftentimes I thought that a lot of them struggle with providing enough context about visualizations.

And so this, they would like to point back to your discussion in one of your podcast episodes about using Intuit titles, about what the specific time. And, you know sometimes facing the title as the question itself, right. That might help give more context about the specification I station. And then other than this, I also notice that a lot of the students struggled with improper use of uh, which in turn does alter them and increased cognate, cognitive load on the. 

I think in my early data visualizations, I made the same mistake. I kind of went crazy with the colors 

Yes. Exactly. does side. No one's thing to look pretty right. 

yeah, like we think that the color, the more colorful it is, the more complex and prettier it looks. It's also a lot easier for us to do because these tools have like all these different color palettes and they, they may not be the most effective ones that the offer has options.

So we make it carry easily carried away because it's so easy for us to change colors.


So when, if someone is new to data visualization, Regardless of what tool they are learning or using. What advice do you have for them? Anything you kind of touched on this, on the previous question, but let's say if someone's brand new, regardless if they're a student or not, what advice do you have?

Right now there is like a huge ocean of free data sets available on. I hate this calculator. That's global data sets, there's data, a lot world. And, and you name it. Right? So, I would say that since there are plenty of data sets available on 900. Just pick up something which interests you and start creating quizzes. Uh, I know that, you know me saying this is different from someone just going there and picking up a data set and automatically just starting with a stock, starting to work on it. Right. So I would say, I would definitely say that, you know, big baby steps start with one visualizing it, it could just be a simple bar chart, artists, simple line chart. So the most important thing, which helped me as, uh, I liberties Twitter and LinkedIn, a lot to share my work with the greater Dataverse community or the top community, which is fondly known as the data farm. The data, Tom is one of the most supportive community of that or internet. The data community is very welcoming. So I would say that please love it. What work you do with these three datasets? Please leverage these platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn TechTalk and Instagram nowadays to share them with the greater data our data was community and do not be afraid to ask others for feedback.

And Hannah, as you call them the latest episode of your input. I would say that if you're someone who is planning on giving feedback to these people who are starting out, or even if someone's experienced and they post a video and you will notice something and nervous I would say to me is the consideration while doing so.

And one of the things which you might want to do with. Send them a message and ask them if they're open to feedback and say that you have?

a theater degree, it wears on you, just a couple of things and you would like to get feedback. And if they're open to them, you can always get them feedback.


For those who are interested in giving feedback, as much I had mentioned in episode 10 of this season, I do cover how to provide database feedback as well as how to ask for it. And yet there's tact involved. The safe side. It's always good to privately reach out to people.

So, yeah. Thank you for mentioning that. And thank you also for mentioning about the data community, the data fam community on Twitter and LinkedIn. Because I found that if you are new to database and so some people learn differently and some people prefer to grow their skills differently. And one, one type of people I've noticed is that you, you like to do things with a community or with other people.

And so for some people who it may be easy to just get datasets from online, like you mentioned, and work on your own projects that are interesting to you, but sometimes some of us need extra motivation or support from the community. And what I like is. When I joined social media is finding that community on Twitter with data fam.

There are tons of, well, there's quite a few data challenges that people can participate in and it's really friendly for beginners. So I encourage for those who are listening and who are just learning how to use data visualization, to look into some of these challenges. One of them is make-over Monday.

And there's other challenges as well that I've listed on my website that I can share link it with the show notes with this podcast. And in addition to these this community and the challenges that we talked about, you are also a co-leader for the Phoenix Tableau user group. Can you share with our audience members who may have never attended a user group meeting? What goes on in these.

So we I thought of the Phoenix right now. We're just meeting with Johnny. So we typically meet once a month. So this is a new Tableau product features, you know, tips and tricks networks with just the data farm in gender and much more from the Tablo was, and by the Tablo world, I mean that, you know, it's just not limited to data was if you're interested in data prep, we do go with Tableau prep and some of our meetings nowadays establish Siara and Salesforce.

There's a lot going on. Within the Tableau world. We have our meetings fast meetings that have been recorded available on tablets, official YouTube channel as well. So go check them out and you'll get like a basic idea of what goes on in a user group meeting that are sessions from other user groups available as well. On top of those official YouTube channel. And like I said we covered a lot of stops, a lot of stuff from the Tableau world in our youth group. 

So I will link in the show notes to the YouTube channel that you mentioned as well as a place. Is there like a website where people can look for Tableau user group scenario?

Yes, they can. I can definitely send that over to you 

and you can link it in the show notes. 

Awesome. Yeah. Lincoln in the show notes for those who are listening and interested in signing up, you can search for a user group in your area.  If you are working with Tableau or interested, then definitely check out these user groups. Thank you so much much ahead for all this advice you've given us. I will link your social media handles for those who are interested in reaching out and connecting with Mujahed.