Ep 20 - Serena Roberts - Authentic Relationships That Build Analytics Success

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Episode Summary

Your job does not end when the analytics development is done. That’s when it starts.
— Serena Roberts

Serena Roberts is a force to be reckoned with. She’s a mom, an analytics leader, a Tableau ambassador, and the driving force for two great local communities that she runs. That’s why we were so thrilled to get a few minutes of her time to talk about her approach to data, and how she’s become such a successful data leader.


Like many of us, Serena didn’t start out on a path to be a “data person”. She kind of fell into it by accident… A happy accident that’s taken her on an amazing journey from “business professional” to data guru, to fearless leader of the Twin Cities Tableau User Group, and the Minnesota chapter of the organization, She Talks Data.

The first thing that you’ll notice about Serena when you talk to her is her passion for understanding other’s needs. She deeply cares about the people in her life, both professionally and personally. She’s also a data visionary. She sees where her organization needs to go and isn’t afraid to communicate that vision to others, even when met with resistance.

Serena talked to us about her time at Capella, and reflected on some of the lessons learned while working for a well-established and relatively “analytics-averse” organization. “I was the unpopular person pushing new ideas”. “We were really trying to change human behavior, one sales rep at a time”.

I saw such a need for analytics and data that no one was looking at. I was the unpopular person pushing new ideas and challenging the status quo”

The more you talk to Serena, the more you realize that it’s HUMANS that drive her, not the DATA. For her, it’s all about helping individuals use data in their day-to-day jobs. Enabling those fundamental data literacy skills that empower a business person to make a better decision, communicate more effectively, or answer a question faster.

“People focus on technology and process… and they heavily underestimate the change management aspect of the work we do as analysts.”

Change management is about changing human behavior. That’s the hard part. But the data community is lucky to have people like Serena driving their organizations to a more data-informed culture.

More about Serena Roberts

Connect on LinkedIn: in/serenaroberts

Links and References

Meetup - She Talks Data

Meetup - Twin Cities Tableau User Group

Book - Rebels at Work - Leading Change from Within

Book - Peanut Butter and Cupcake

Serena’s Favorite People - Nick Peterson, Karla Hillier, Sherri Benzelock, Laura Madsen

Award Winning Tableau Team - Jeff Plattner, Tricia Duncan

The Data Able Podcast is made possible by Beyond the Data

We are on a mission to help people like you become a champion in your organization for a more data-informed approach. Data science and analytics is critical, but getting real value requires building a culture that starts with you, is supported by executives, and trickles down to every person in your organization.