Meet the 2021 Iron Viz Finalists, get your Supporter Kit and let the games begin
We are just weeks away from Tableau Conference and the ultimate visualization showdown—Iron Viz 2021—where three fierce contestants will take the virtual stage for an intense lightning round of live viz-tastic storytelling.
The 2021 Iron Viz Finalists: Lisa Trescott, Pradeep Kumar G, and Samuel Parsons.
This year's finalists, Lisa Trescott, Pradeep Kumar G, and Samuel Parsons, rose to the top from hundreds of incredible Data + Joy qualifier submissions. Now they prepare to battle it out in front of a massive audience of people from across the globe. Who will claim victory, bragging rights, and thousands of dollars in prize money for themselves and a charity of their choice? We can’t wait to see it play out. Let’s get to know our contenders.
Meet the 2021 Iron Viz Finalists
What prompted you to join the competition this year?
Lisa Trescott: I entered the feeder competition as a learning experience and never expected to be a finalist. I just started vizzing for fun earlier this year, and I thought putting together a submission for Iron Viz would be a great way to enhance my skills, connect with others in the community, and have fun with data. It has been all of those things, and I've learned way more than I ever expected!
Pradeep Kumar G: I have been entering Iron Viz since 2018 (feeder 3). Participating in Iron Viz is so much fun and provides a great learning experience. Also, it was Kevin Flerlage, a Tableau Zen Master and my friend, who encouraged me to participate in Iron Viz this year.
Samuel Parsons: I haven’t submitted an entry since the 2nd Feeder round in 2019 and felt I had unfinished business with Iron Viz. I’ve always looked at the competition as a proving ground for the skills I am learning. I see Iron Viz as a test of my ability and want to see how far I can go in the competition.
What are you doing to prepare for the finals at TC?
Lisa Trescott: I started learning Tableau Prep as soon as I found out I was a finalist. I don't have access to it at work, and I knew it would be invaluable for the competition. I also got a few books focused on storytelling with data to help out with the presentation.
Pradeep Kumar G: First, I am preparing myself to stay calm and focused throughout my journey in the Iron Viz finals. I believe that the final viz build will be tough because I have never tried creating a viz in 20 minutes. So, I am experimenting with speed practice by using shortcuts and finding ways to optimize things during the viz build.
Samuel Parsons: To prepare for the finals, I spoke with past winners and contestants to gain their inside knowledge and advice on what to look out for. I have watched four or five of the available previous finals on YouTube to see how the finalists approached their presentations and what side of their vizzes they concentrated on. I have also been learning Tableau Prep for the final—a tool I have no experience in using until now.
What do you love most about Iron Viz?
Lisa Trescott: My favorite thing about Iron Viz is seeing how three people take the same data set, find completely different stories in it, and visualize it in such unique ways.
Pradeep Kumar G: Iron Viz is a great place to showcase your data visualization skills using Tableau and compete against the best data viz people in the world. Participating has always pushed my data visualization skills to be greater. I learn a ton each year. It has offered me a whole new vizzing experience.
Samuel Parsons: I love Iron Viz because it really takes you out of your comfort zone. Whether you are successful in your feeder submission or not, or even if you do not complete your entry (like I have twice), you learn something new every time. It could be a technical Tableau trick, feedback from a judge, how to transform the data, or more often than not, you learn something about yourself. My last failed feeder round submission was due to a time-keeping issue. I learned from that, so this year I was able to keep driving my submission forward. This is what I love about Iron Viz. It promotes self-learning for every individual.
As a finalist, you will receive money to donate to your favorite charity. What nonprofit are you supporting and why?
Lisa Trescott: I work at a college supporting student equity programs and have seen the impacts of systemic racism on students of color, who often don't have access to the basic resources they need to succeed. These inequities have only become more apparent in the past year and a half and highlight just how much structural reform needs to happen in the US. I'm supporting PolicyLink because they're dedicated to this kind of reform and advancing economic and social equity.
Pradeep Kumar G: I have chosen Compass Family Services as my charity because I believe that home is a basic need for everyone, and I have always looked for ways to help homeless people.
Samuel Parsons: I am supporting The Nature Conservancy because it is a global organization working to protect habitats across many continents. I spent the major part of my career working for one of the UK’s largest charities, which were part of their activities to protect the coastline and countryside. I know from my experience how threatened these areas can become unless we have organizations willing to work tirelessly to protect what we have for future generations. I live in the UK countryside and want the diversity of life in the countryside protected worldwide—not just for my children but many generations down the line.
What is your favorite viz of all time?
Lisa Trescott: It's so hard to pick just one! I really love Wendy Shijia's Escher Gallery. It's such a cool integration of data and art. It plays on Escher's style and looks like an Escher piece of art in and of itself. It's just genius.
Pradeep Kumar G: When I started my Tableau journey in early 2018, Bird Strikes Redoux was the first viz I looked for inspiration from Tableau Public. I loved everything about that viz including, the simple design, choice of charts, filter action, and highlight action. It educated me that a minimalist design could convey a powerful story. It is also my favorite viz of all time.
Samuel Parsons: Aw, come on! You can’t expect me to answer that. In fact, I’m going to sit firmly on the fence and give a few that I really love. Previous Iron Viz finalist Jacob Olsufka’s 2017 MLB Pitcher Heatmaps is such a clever and clean visualization. Justin Davis’ Super Bowl LIII is an interesting visual approach to the team’s in-game win probability. Mike Cisneros’ Most Dangerous Places is one viz that even though the main element is a map, the data points on that map demand attention. Such a brilliant and impactful combination of data marks to show conflict fatalities against an area’s population. I could pick any number of vizzes from Jonni Walker, but here I will choose Where The Wild Things Glow, Jonni is obviously super-human level skilled with Mapbox. Still, it’s his combination of Mapbox with Tableau and his eye for design that helps him create captivating vizzes that take your breath away. After all that, I have thought of my favorite—Anya A’Hearn’s legendary visualization Consumed! She visually represents all the everyday items used on a typical day, big, bold background, with fun cartoon icons – simple and very effective.
Where is home, and do you have anyone you want to call out for supporting your Iron Viz/data journey?
Lisa Trescott: I live in Carlsbad, California. First, I have to call out to my coworker Kim Coutts. She was the very first person who introduced me to Tableau and helped me start building foundational knowledge.
I also have to give a shout-out to Sarah Bartlett. Her blog post about why everyone should enter Iron Viz is what pushed me to enter the feeder competition. She also gave tons of encouragement and support on social media and organized sessions for folks to get feedback from Zen Masters on their submissions.
I also have to call out the Flerlage twins—Kevin and Ken—for all the helpful resources they put out for the community. They are so generous with their knowledge. I've learned more about Tableau from those two than from anyone else.
Pradeep Kumar G: I was born and raised in Tamil Nadu, India. First, I am so thankful to my parents and my brother. They have been so cheerful and supportive throughout my entire data journey. Also, I wish to thank my mentors Kevin Flerlage, Sarah Bartlett, Lindsay Betzendahl, Sagar Kapoor, my sous vizzer Tanushree Rohera, and the whole DataFam for encouraging and believing in me.
Samuel Parsons: Home is Chippenham in the South West of England, UK. It is a market town popular with commuters due to its location to many different major transport links. Chippenham is not exactly famous for anything, but it is situated in Wiltshire countryside and has plenty of fields and routes to walk around away from the busy town. I would first like to call out to my wife, Jo, who has supported me completely since I changed careers and picked up Tableau three years ago. She is now putting up with me locking myself away as I prepare for this Iron Viz final. Second, I want to shout out to Simon Beaumont, last year’s Iron Viz runner-up, who has supported my Tableau journey massively. He has helped me believe in myself more and has always been available as a sounding board on viz feedback and career advice.
What do you like to do when you aren’t vizzing?
Lisa Trescott: I love being outdoors, and I'm so glad I live in a place where I can be outside year-round. There are trails by my house that I walk almost daily. I like hiking, being at the beach, and just getting out and being active after spending all day in front of a computer.
Pradeep Kumar G: I love to watch animation and sci-fi movies. During vacations, I make cookies and muffins (especially chocolate muffins for my family and friends.
Samuel Parsons: I am usually playing with my three children or walking my dog. Life for me is very different than 10-15 years ago, less going out and more family-oriented. I love baking cakes with my children. Watching a good movie (not always Marvel), I love foreign cinema—Korean films, French, Mexican or Japanese. I am a huge Rugby Union fan. My local side Bath Rugby used to dominate the English game when I was growing up in the 90s, but ever since, supporters have been waiting decades for the glory days to return. Maybe this year will be our year? My wife and I are taking our children along to games this year for their first experience of live Rugby Union—hopefully, they will be our lucky charms.
Congratulations to our viz-tastic finalists. Be sure to save the date—9 a.m. PT on November 10—and tune in to the Iron Viz Championship at Tableau Conference 2021.
Ready to join the fun?
Iron Viz 2021 Supporter featuring the At-Home Scorecard, which helps track your observations while watching the live championship.
- Can't wait for the live broadcast? Neither can we. We know you are on the edge of your seat with excitement. Download your Iron Viz Supporter Kit, get your Viz Stix ready, and let the games begin.
- Get social! Use the Iron Viz Supporter Kit sign template to get creative when posting your data love for the finalists. Tell us what you're most excited about and who you're rooting for throughout the contest using #IronViz on Twitter.