In recognition of International Women’s Day, we asked a few of our female colleagues to share their perspectives on career and life at Tableau. By any measure, these women are the definition of success and as women in technology, their accomplishments are even more impressive. According to Statista, in 2018 only 26 to 43 percent of the workforce of major tech companies were female, with a far lower percentage of that number in actual tech positions.

Tech might not be a mainstream career choice for women (yet!), but that doesn’t faze our interviewees. They are all-in, and their enthusiasm for our platform—and our company—is contagious. In their own words, read what motivates, inspires, and amuses these bright and witty women of Tableau.

We want to know the wonderful women in your life, so name a fierce female on social media and use the hashtag #VisualizeDiversity in honor of International Women's Day.

Jen Wong, User Experience Designer

When did you start working at Tableau? What is your “Tableau story”?
I first learned about Tableau during my information visualization course at UW and I was amazed at how powerful the tool was. Along with its great products, Tableau seemed like a great place to work and so I applied during my senior year. However, my application was rejected and I didn’t start working at Tableau until three years later after graduation when I got connected to a design manager and tried applying again. Now I’ve been at Tableau for about half a year as a UX Designer on the Dashboard Extensions team. I’m so grateful to get to come work on great products with great people every day!

If you could go back in time and give yourself one piece of advice at the start of your career, what would it be?
I would tell myself not to doubt myself so much and to be more aggressive. It is easy to think about the areas you need to improve and get yourself down, or even give into stereotypes seeing that you may be the only female in the room when you’re in the tech industry. But it’s important to be confident, embrace new challenges, and know you bring great things to the table.

If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?
Cook and mix drinks!!

Melly Burns, Software Engineer

When did you start working at Tableau? What is your "Tableau story"?
I came to Tableau 8 months ago, and the time has flown by! I actually started as a customer previewing Tableau as a potential solution during one of my college internships. I fell in love with the products’ mission, ease of use, and overall capability. Tableau was definitely one of my dream companies. I can’t begin to tell you how excited I was to get that recruiter call. I ended up on a team handling some of the hardest legacy code we have. It’s been an enlightening and fun challenge to dip deep into the code and mold it into a better product.

What is the favorite part of your job?
The people! I love my work, but I’m surrounded by an incredibly smart, kind, and fun group of people who I can’t wait to be with when I wake up every morning. Along with that, I’ve always been the only woman or one of two in the room, but in my current team women make up the majority! I find that empowering and exciting.

What is your secret superpower?
Oh, I’ve got one! Due to being autistic, I have excellent pattern matching ability! I love to use this superpower to see through the messiness of code to a better design. Although, I may spend more of my time using it to win at my favorite board games.

What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment?
Alright, don’t laugh, but it’s definitely training my childhood cat to do tricks when I was 11. The whole process took about two years, could only be done on the cat’s schedule, and I really only got some basic tricks like “come”, “touch” (he would boop anything in my right hand with his nose), “jump,” and “stand up”. But hey…I trained a cat!! Tune in for my escapades of training a puppy soon.

Rupal Rashmi, Software Engineer

When did you start working at Tableau? What is your “Tableau story”?
I joined Tableau in August, 2017. I chose Tableau over another competing offer because of the people! I had a great time during my interview which unlike a lot of other companies I interviewed with, did not feel like an interrogation. When my senior manager described her experience at Tableau, I could sense the happiness in her tone! So, I said “Yes!” to Tableau in pursuit of the same level of happiness!

What is the favorite part of your job?
I get paid to break things! :) Yes, I’m not kidding! That is my job description! I’m a Software Engineer here at Tableau with focus on testing. So, part of my day job is to try and break features in Tableau—higher the number of defects we report internally, fewer are shipped to our customers!

For a female starting out in their career, what advice would you give them?

  1. Don’t be intimidated to seek new opportunities because you “feel unprepared”, “didn’t go to that school”, “you’re only a beginner at that skill”, and worst of all because “you’re a woman”. Don’t let anything stop you from taking on new challenges!
  2. Be independent - financially, professionally and personally! We all love our partners, family, friends but don’t be dependent on them in any way. Also, live alone at least once!
  3. Take care of yourself. Your manager won’t remember all the sessions you missed because of work, your body will remember and punish you ten years later. Also, drink lots of water!
  4. Travel - A LOT! Travel pushes you out of your comfort zone, teaches you how to adapt, makes you count your blessings and be thankful for little luxuries in life that we take for granted. All that money adding up in your bank account and all the extra money you’re counting on when you cash out your vacation time at the end of this job isn’t worth it! Please use all your vacation time, and then some more!

What’s the first thing you bought with your first paycheck?
I grew up in India and came to the US for my master’s degree in 2012. I was the first female engineer in all of my extended family and the only one who was adamant to study further in a country miles away from home! My parents were very skeptical at first, but after a lot of persuasion (there was also a hunger strike involved in the process!), they let me book that one-way ticket to the US. They trusted me enough to even pay a major chunk of my first year’s tuition fee from their life savings. So, when I got my first paycheck in June 2014, I sent the full thing back home to thank them for having faith in me.

Geraldine (Gigi) Zanolli, Associate Product Manager

What is the favorite part of your job?
Being able to exchange ideas with so many data geeks! I am always amazed by our customers, community, or colleagues: how they use their data and the insights they get from it. I worked with a colleague tracking all the food he eats on a Tableau Dashboard and I even helped customers from industries as different as the church management industry or adult shops—all with data ready to be analyzed!

For a female starting out in their career, what advice would you give them?
If you want, you can. It might take time and/or a lot of effort and work, but you can do it and you can make it happen. Set goals and, more importantly, set your own definition of success. Once you have set them, work hard to reach them.

If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?
Singing, but I think it is a lost cause. I am terrible. No karaoke night for me.

What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment?
Today, I am currently changing my role, country, and continent. I have been at Tableau for more than two and half years and I was a Product Consultant in pre-sales team based in London. This month, I joined the dev team, based in Seattle, as an Associate Product Manager/Developer Evangelist. I worked this past year for this change to happen and it was my goal.

Amanda Luthy, Senior Quality Assurance Engineer

How has being a woman had a positive or negative impact on your career?
Thankfully, being a woman has generally had a pretty neutral impact on my career. However, over the years I’ve been “talked to” about things that men around me with the same behavior aren’t, and I’ve even been passed over for a promotion based on my gender.

If you could go back in time and give yourself one piece of advice at the start of your career, what would it be?
Don’t wait until you’re 100% qualified for a job before you go after it. By the time you check all the boxes, you’re over qualified.

What do you believe will be the biggest challenge for the next generation of women?
I think the biggest challenges for women remain the same. We still don’t have equal pay, equal treatment, and equal representation at higher levels of management.

Why is International Women’s Day important to you?
Women in general are pretty awesome and we need to support each other. One of my favorite things about International Women’s Day is how we highlight so many amazing women doing all sorts of cool things from around the world. Some of these women are players on the world stage and others are making impacts at the local level, and I love hearing about them all—they’re changing the world!

Susan Graeme, Senior Director, EMEA Marketing

When did you start working at Tableau? What is your “Tableau story”?
I started with Tableau in 2012 and it was the best career decision I made. When I started the marketing team was two strong, now it’s 47 in EMEA, double the size of the whole EMEA team here when we began! Elissa Fink was an inspiring CMO, and I love growing individuals and teams and empowering people to make a difference in the company. Rather than saying “I know the answer, follow me”, I’d rather say, “I know the challenge. Let’s find the solution together.”

What woman inspires you and why?Marie Stopes, campaigner for women’s reproductive rights, allowing women to engage at all levels of public life and society. She had her flaws, but was one of the biggest influencers of public thought that reproductive rights are an integral part of human rights. Being at work today is down to pioneers like her that allowed women to make choices.

What is your secret superpower?
My superpower is reading, I always have two to three books on-the-go. Books are the keys to the world! I’m rediscovering some children’s classics like Wind in the Willows by reading to my son.

Abby Gray, Software Engineer

When did you start working at Tableau? What is your “Tableau story”?
I first joined Tableau last summer as an intern in Palo Alto. After finishing my degree at UW in June and spending the summer traveling, I joined the team here in Seattle. It’s been so exciting to get to know the two different offices and grow my Tableau community.

What is the last book you read?
"Becoming" by Michelle Obama

For a female starting out in their career, what advice would you give them?
As a female just starting out, I’m always looking for advice from more experienced women. My favorite piece of advice so far actually came from another woman at Tableau! She said to strive to be the pin ball flapper, rather than the pin ball. To take control of my path and develop a breadth of experience that allows me to control where I go, instead of being bounced around.

Amy Alberts, Manager, User Research

What is the favorite part of your job?
I have a couple of favorite things. First, I love the people at Tableau. There’s a sweetness to the people who work here; a kindness that I’ve never experienced in any other organization. We encourage each other to bring our whole selves to work every day, and we don’t penalize each other when some of those parts are less than perfect. Secondly, I love being able to build on what Tableau has already done. The company is growing and part of my job is to build out a multi-disciplinary team of User Researchers and Visual Designers who support our Design and Dev teams. I feel an intense sense of responsibility about the kind of people we bring into our team; to ensure they will care for and nurture our customers and product as much as the people before us did. It’s an honor to work here, and I intend to keep it that way.

What’s the first thing you bought with your first paycheck?
I had come to high tech by way of graduate school and as many people know, in grad school you are so broke! I started getting paid more money than I had ever seen, so the first major thing I bought was a car. I had always loved the style and ethos of BMW, but had only admired them from afar. One weekend I went to a BMW dealership and sat in a beautiful used 1995 “Orient Blue” 525i. I had never been in a BMW before, never drove one, and bought it (like an idiot) without even negotiating. I was scared the whole time! But, I loved that car and what it symbolized to me: independence, a tad of recklessness, and a pinch of indulgence.

What woman in history, dead or alive, would you like to meet? What would you ask them?
I would like to meet my late great grandmother, Maggie O’Keefe (whom I never met). She came to the US from County Cork, Ireland, when she was about 11 years old. Maggie left behind a twin sister and everyone else she had ever known or loved. She sailed alone to the US and eventually went to live with family friends in Helena, Montana. I want to know what that journey was like for her, the grit it took to survive, and how much the world changed over the decades of her life. It’s almost unfathomable for me to imagine her life, and I would absolutely love to hear her stories.

Thank you, women of Tableau!

We’d like to give a special shout-out to Jen, Melly, Rupal, Gigi, Amanda, Susan, Abby, and Amy for sharing their stories. Thank you! In the words of Maya Angelou, “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.” Mission accomplished, ladies.

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