WIA One on Ones: A Conversation with 2022 Data Visualization Competition Winner, Preethi Lodha

The Data Connect Conference, hosted by Women in Analytics (WIA), featured its fifth Data Viz Competition this year. This competition allows data visualization authors to show off their skills while competing for prizes.

The topics on which the visualizations were submitted ranged from Period Poverty across the globe to a deep dive into the world of Sherlock Holmes, from google trends in the United States to an analysis of AIR BnB business.Similarly, the tools used to build these visualizations varied from software programs to physical media such as RStudio/RShiny, Tableau, paintings, etc.

Today, we are in conversation with the creator of the Data Viz "Sherlock Holmes" Preethi Lodha, which won first place in the 2022 Data Viz Competition!

RW: Can you tell me a little about yourself and your data visualization project on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes?

PL: Hello all. Preethi here.Before I introduce myself, I want to thank the Women in Analytics and DataConnect Conference for hosting this competition and Gathi Analytics (now known as Apexon) for sponsoring it. This competition provides a fantastic platform to come together and share these unique visualizations.

I am a Data Analytics and InsightsManager at a higher ed institution. My educational background includes a master's degree in Computer Science. I am also wrapping up my MBA in BusinessAnalytics this year.   

For me, literature is an art that shares a story and develops a theme for the audience's imagination. That has inspired a retelling in various formats over the century. Some of these stories are so compelling that they remain with the audience for the rest of their lives.In the literary genre of Detective stories, no detective has been quite as prevalent as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes, who made a singular impact upon the popular imagination. Utilizing storytelling through data visualization, I wanted to tell an account of what makes the Sherlock Holmes stories timeless.

RW: Can you talk about the data collection process for this visualization? Can you walk us through this project's data collection and validity process?

PL: Even though the data collection and validation were tedious and lengthy, it was simplified because most of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's detective canon is in the public domain. Also, the volume of content created by Sherlockians aided me in the cross-validation of the data once I made the visualization.

RW: Why did you choose to display your data on Sherlock Holmes on Tableau?

PL: I chose Tableau to analyze the dataset on Sherlock Holmes as I wanted to be challenged and simultaneously explore my storytelling capabilities utilizing the tool. Also, the Tableau DataFam community is one of the most active communities I have been a part of. I got some fantastic feedback on the viz from some of the best content creators in the business.

RW: Did you run into any challenges when developing this data visualization? If so, what were they, and how did you mitigate them?

PL: This visualization went through a metamorphosis. As I said previously, I was building this visualization to challenge my analytical thought processes but also to implement some excellent storytelling lessons such as color palette, font sizes, chart types, the data-ink ratio, etc., I have learned over the years.

Ultimately, the hardest thing for me was ending the chase for perfection. One of the best feedback I received was to regroup and see if I implemented everything I wanted to in the Viz and if the answer was yes, it is an excellent place to let it go

RW: Do you have any advice for new and seasoned data viz professionals?

PL: For the data viz professional, I have a couple of things that helped me:

Firstly, take the initiative! If you have an idea, don't be afraid to build it! You'll learn much faster when you put the ideas you are passionate about in the build.

Secondly, be open to feedback and seek feedback from people with expertise in the tool and those without the data viz background. This way, you will get a perspective of what works both technically and esthetically.

RW: What would you say to others thinking of entering the Data Viz Competition?

PL: I would highly recommend giving it a shot. Whether a beginner or an advanced data visualizer, it's a great platform to show off your work and story. It also helps that the prizes you stand a chance to win are very generous. 

Check out the 2022 Data Visualization Competition awards ceremony on the Women in Analytics YouTube Channel!

Pictured from left to right: Rehgan Avon, Tina Sebert & Preethi Lodha


Ruhi White, MBA
Ruhi White, MBA is a business professional with over eight years of experience. She has worked hand-in-hand with state, local, and federal government agencies, military/veteran organizations, and non-profit organizations. She enjoys helping her clients reach their visions through realistic goal setting, risk management, research, analysis, and communicating with stakeholders to produce measurable results. Ruhi is currently a Data Analyst for NYSUT, and the Founder of R. White Consultancy.