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November 20, 2012

Wanted: BI Engineer, Visualization & Reporting @ Facebook

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If you attended the Facebook session at the Tableau Customer Conference in San Diego, you heard that we’re looking for great people to join our BI team.  The job description is listed below or you can view it on Facebook.

This role is on the same team that I work on within IT and I cannot emphasize enough how happy I am that I decided to leave Coke to go to work at Facebook.  I’m privileged to work with the smartest, most creative and most productive people in the world.  I’m pushed every day to be better than I’ve ever been.

We expect every candidate to be #1 or #2 in what they do. We only hire the sharpest and brightest, but you also must fit in culturally. If you think you’d make a great fit, then apply via the link at the bottom and enter my name when asked if you know anyone that works at Facebook.  This alerts me that someone I know applied. 

BI Engineer, Visualization & Reporting

Do you like working with big data? Do you want to use data to influence product decisions for products being used by over one billion people every day? If yes, we want to talk to you. We’re looking for analytics engineering leaders to work on our Business Intelligence Team with a passion for social media to help drive informed business decisions for Facebook.

In this role, you will work with some of the brightest minds in the industry, and you'll get an opportunity to solve some of the most challenging business problems on the web and mobile Internet, at a scale that few companies can match.  You will enjoy working with one of the richest data sets in the world, cutting edge technology, and the ability to see your insights turned into real products on a regular basis.

The perfect candidate will have a background in computer science or a related technical field, will have experience with business intelligence tools (Tableau experience is preferred), will have experience working with large data stores, and will have some experience writing SQL. You must be scrappy, focused on results, a self-starter, and have demonstrated success in using analytics to drive the understanding, progression, and user engagement of a product.

This is a full time position based in our office in Menlo Park.


  • Manage reporting/dashboard plans for a product or a group of products
  • Interface with engineers, product managers and product analysts to understand data, reporting and analytical needs
  • Drive sessions with business users to translate requirements and needs of various businesses
  • Design, develop, test, launch new reports and dashboards into production
  • Help analyze, visualize, and provide analytics on massive amounts of data captured daily to build reporting solutions to support various company initiatives
  • Work closely with BI and business colleagues to improve operations through the appropriate use of BI platforms and information collected through dashboards and reports
  • Explore and recommend emerging technologies and techniques to support/enhance BI landscape components
  • Integrate external reporting solutions with internal applications
  • Build rich and dynamic dashboards using out-of-box features, customizations, and visualizations
  • Automate solutions where appropriate
  • Participate in peer design and certification reviews
  • Participate in the creation and support of BI development standards and best practices
  • Provide support to reports and dashboards running in production
  • Conduct training sessions


  • Bachelor’s in Computer Science, Mathematics, Business, Business Administration, or closely-related, or foreign equivalent
  • 4+ years experience in the reporting and data visualization space
  • Expert level skills in building custom reports and dashboards with BI tools, with preference given to candidates with Tableau experience
  • Expert level ability to analyze data to identify deliverables, gaps and inconsistencies
  • Excellent communication skills including the ability to identify and communicate data driven insights
  • Ability to write efficient SQL statements
  • Skill in Oracle RDBMS (SQL/PLSQL), MySQL, and OLAP a plus

Apply here

November 13, 2012

Need to waste space with a poor chart design? Go to Nielsen for advice.


Nielsen has done some really poor work in the past, but this time they may have outdone themselves.  There are times, many of them, that I wonder what Nielsen is thinking.  I hate donut charts even more than pie charts and donuts inside donuts are an even more profound mistake.

Here’s a chart from their Q3 2012 Consumer Confidence Report.


The report includes some additional facts about change from Q2 2012 (except for North America which they only provide vs. Q3 2011 for some inexplicable reason).  That gives us two interesting and simple data points: (1) current sentiment and (2) change from previous.

I would represent the data as a bar chart colored by % change, with a reference line for Global.

Nielsen Recessionary Sentiment

My version makes it much easier to do a few things:

  1. Compare relative differences between regions (bars work better than slices or donuts)
  2. Quickly see which regions are improving, which regions are declining, and the magnitude of the change (via color)
  3. Compare the regions to the global average

I was considering having another bar for the Global average, but decided to use the reference line because it makes the comparisons significantly simpler and my interpretation from Nielsen’s charts was that you should be comparing to the Global average.

Also, their title is misleading.  They make a blanket statement that “Recessionary Sentiment Grew”, yet it didn’t grow everywhere.  I can only assume that they’re referring to the global average.  My title makes it more clear.

For as long as I’m in this line of work, I will hold out hope that Nielsen will incorporate more best practices into their work.  Until that time, I will continue to leave them comments and suggestions.

November 2, 2012

My top 10 tips for navigating your way through TCC12


Get ready for the analytics conference of the year.  If you haven’t been before, you’re in for the best conference you will have ever attended, guaranteed.

Below are my top 10 tips, based on having spoken and attended at the conference twice and based on the questions I’ve received.

If you have any other questions, feel free to reach me via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn,, or email.

1. Plan to have a great time.  The parties are incredible!  The keynotes, networking, session, etc. will leave you energized and ready to take on the world.

2. What should I wear? 

People wear whatever they wear to work.  Some will have suits, some will be in shorts and flip flops.  I'll be going casual - t-shirt and jeans, that’s the Facebook way.  I would likely be heckled by our team if I dressed up, plus I gave away all of my dress clothes the day I left Coke.

3. Download the iPhone or Andriod conference app. 

Search for TCC To Go.  This will allow you to search for sessions, connect with others, etc.  There’s an option to save sessions to a calendar, but I haven’t been able to locate the calendar.

4. Which sessions should I attend? 

It all depends on what you want to get out of it.  I tend to do a mix of customer sessions and learning. 

If you go to a customer session and the speaker/session sucks, walk out and go to something else.  I guarantee there will be multiple things you want to go to during every breakout session.

Get to the sessions early!  They WILL fill up.

5. I feel overwhelmed with all of the sessions.  What’s the best way to navigate through it all?

You will get a think binder of all of the sessions at check-in.  Get two different colored highlighters and highlight you’re top two sessions for each breakout. 

Get a head start by print the session booklet.  Get it here.

6. Be sure to attend the session “Like! Facebook’s Tableau Deployment & HackBook Tips” by our very own Namit Raisurana.

This session will describe why Tableau was selected to put analytics in the hands of every data user so they no longer were reliant on developers to serve up reports and analysis.

You’ll find out what’s been done to accelerate adoption that, in the short time it’s been deployed, has led to a massive user adoption.

Facebook’s rigorous needs have also led to pushing the boundaries of Tableau. We’ll share some of the most impactful efforts that have set a new standard for what it means to be a data-driven organization. Namit will also be giving a live demonstration.

We have a couple of additional surprises in store.  I ask that you reserve seats in the first row for Facebookers.

7. Take advantage to connect with lots of folks.

You’ll find that the attendees come from a very diverse set of industries.  Talk to people that are NOT from your own organization between sessions. 

Don’t be shy!  Mingle at the parties.  Bring business cards to exchange…lots of them.

People are typically willing to show off their work.  If you’re talking to someone who seems to have done some cool work, they may be willing to share so ask.  The worst they can say is no.

8. Connect via social networks.

Facebook – Join the TCC12 event group and "Like" us at
Twitter – Stay updated and share your own tweets using hashtag #tcc12.
LinkedIn – Virtually connect with other attendees in the TCC event group.
TCC Online Community – Get a head start meeting new Tableau pals by introducing yourself to other attendees in the TCC Community Group.

9. Don’t miss the keynotes!  They’re sure to be great (though there was one stinker last year).

Christian Chabot - CEO and Co-founder, Tableau Software
Chris Stolte - CDO and Co-founder, Tableau Software
Malcolm Gladwell – Author
John Medina - Developmental Molecular Biologist, Author
Larry Gonick – Author
Steve Johnson – Author

10. Meet the Tableau Zen Masters – Wednesday at 4:30 in Community Alley

Come meet the very first class of Tableau Zen Masters; Tableau's most elite and celebrated users.  Who are they?  You’ll have to wait and see.  I’m anxious to find out!

November 1, 2012

Tableau Tip: Passing filters in a URL (to create a dynamic report in PowerPoint)

Monday I showed how to embed an image of a Tableau Dashboard in PowerPoint that updates dynamically.

This process can actually have a much broader use if you customize the URL to include filters.  Let’s look at an example.

Assume you’ve created this sales dashboard.

Notice that there are a few filter options on the right. Your goal is to build a PowerPoint for your regional sales teams, but you don’t want them to see each other’s information. You have a couple of options:

  1. Create a separate dashboard for each region. Terrible idea! Way too many charts to maintain.
  2. Add user level security. This is easy to do with Tableau Server, but there are lots of companies that can’t afford Tableau Server. So that option could be out the window.
  3. Create filtered URLs and embed those in the PowerPoint via the instructions from Monday.

The link for the image for the whole dashboard is https://[YourTableauServerURL]/views/OneMinuteDashboard/OneMinuteDashboard.png.  And the resulting image looks like this:

If you want a page for the Central team, you simply add ?Region=Central to the end of the URL if you are using Tableau Server. The URL now looks like this:


Notice how the Region is filtered to Central.  You could embed this into PowerPoint, then duplicate the PowerPoint file and change to image to the East, etc.

You can include as many filters as you want by adding an ampersand (&) then whatever else you want to filter.  The filter has to be in the format filter_name=value.

If I want a page for each Order Priority for Central, then all I do is add &Order Priority=Critical to the URL.  Then replace this with High, then Medium, etc.  In this example, the URL would now look like this:


And the resulting image looks like this:

Do you need to show the quick filters using this technique?  No, but for me it makes the image more clear to the reader to do so.  You could remove the quick filters and have the title update based on the filters.  That would look good.

Finally, if you want to include multiple selections from a filter, perhaps Critical and High, then you simply add ,High to the URL.


The image now looks like this:

The filtering options are pretty endless.  All you need to remember is the format for adding a filter to a URL:
I’ve created a PowerPoint with a page for each region here.