We are excited to present our conversation with Santhanalakshmi Ponnurasan. Lakshmi defines herself to be an ordinary person with extraordinary dreams. Being a self-taught expert in Data Visualization, she has developed distinctive dashboards and reports that have garnered appreciation from others. Along with this, she is also known for her insightful blogs published on Medium. In addition to her passion for data visualization, she is a loving dog parent and enjoys embarking on new adventures.
SDD: What was your first encounter with data analysis and visualization? What attracted you to this field, have you always been a visual person?
During my initial employment at Hitachi Consulting, I was tasked with interpreting complex data and presenting it in an infographic format. This experience made me realize that the data analytics and visualization field resonated with me and that I should pursue it as a career path.
As someone who has always enjoyed drawing, painting, and designing, this field provided me with a creative outlet. During my childhood, I often engaged in debates and various public speaking events, enjoying the chance to present in front of an audience. Through data analytics, I was able to not just analyze information but also present my findings and insights in a creative and engaging manner.
SDD: As you know, we are seeing huge strides in AI now. How do you think AI can help in the data visualization process?
AI can be highly beneficial in data visualization, from automating data cleaning and providing visual recommendations to predicting future trends and performing advanced analytics. However, I strongly feel that AI-generated reports or dashboards may lack a personal touch. Overreliance on AI can also reduce the need for human interaction and creativity, leading to a lack of innovative solutions and insights.
SDD: Apart from your work, you also blog on Medium. What inspired you to start this blog?
I began writing blogs on Medium primarily to impart my knowledge and expertise to beginners in a fun and accessible manner. I realized that novices in this field are often daunted and confused, so I wanted to share my own experiences and journey to inspire them to pursue this field. Additionally, through researching and writing about various topics, I found that it helped me to deepen my understanding of the subject matter. Moreover, my blogging efforts have allowed me to connect with other experts, leading to a range of exciting collaboration opportunities.
Do you have any tips for someone who wishes to get started with data visualization? For example, the tools they could start with, courses etc.?
For those starting out in the Data Visualization field, I recommend preparing yourself for ongoing upskilling and upgrading. Begin by selecting a visualization tool and experimenting with it until you become proficient. Maintain an open-minded attitude to understand and appreciate other perspectives.
Although several courses are available, I believe that the best way to master this field is through practice and persistence. Begin by learning the fundamentals of the tool, selecting a dataset of your choice, finding insights from the data, attempting to solve a business problem, and presenting your findings to a friend or family member. This approach will help you to solidify your skills and gain practical experience in data visualization.
What inspires you?
The main source of my inspiration is my parents who have faced various challenges and difficulties in their lives. Their stories of overcoming hardships and persevering through difficult times inspire me to push through even when things get tough. Additionally, I am constantly amazed by the power of creativity and innovation. Whether it’s in the realm of technology, arts, or any other field, the ability to develop new and inventive solutions to problems is something that really excites and motivates me.