Why do I make the time to teach in addition to my day job? It’s for the money of course… NOT! While I love being able to help people learn something new or think differently about something they thought they knew, I have an ulterior motive. When I teach, I am locked in a room with a diverse group of extraordinarily bright people and all of us are focused on a topic of my passion. A transformation happens. We reverse roles. I become the student and I learn through the perceptions and ideas of my now teachers. Of the thousands of data viz sessions I have taught, I have left everyone with a greater understanding. More than once, I have gone home after a class and torn up entire lectures based on what I have learned.
I take a similar approach to managing as I do teaching, giving my team freedom and responsibility to break molds, never to do something just because it is the way we have always done it. I guess the big difference is that I am relentless on how analysts on my teams describe the results of their data through words or visualization. So it makes for interesting conversations where I want them to drive the big picture ideas, but then I lecture them on using fonts that are too small or pie charts (don’t ask). This is because I have seen brilliant analyses fall by the wayside because the analyst felt the job was done as soon as they got the output. From my perspective, getting the output is the initial step in creating a compelling and intuitive story around the analysis. As a result, I often have a lot to say about how we describe analysis. More than one team member has accused me of having a bucket of red correction ink under my desk.
I love spending time with people who are quick to change the paradigm. Working with the Telangana and Karnataka governments has been a great experience. Hyderabad is known primarily as an IT state, but their government recognizes there is an opportunity to leverage that legacy and evolve into data engineering and data science. Similarly, Karnataka is exploring opportunities to help engineers move into more datascience related fields. When they ask me for my opinion, it is an absolute honor to be a part of their efforts to proactively create the future.
My family is my foundation. My youngest son recently graduated from an IB program in Bangalore; he started a military university in the US and is a member of the Army Reserves. My elder son is getting his master’s degree in applied statistics in Sweden; he and my daughter-in-law just had their first child. My wife just started a graduate program in Berkeley and is tied up with an NGO in West Bengal. My family is spread out across time zones and yet we manage to WeChat every day with video calls several times a week. When I am not immersed in the world of data, you can find me engaged in free diving, scuba diving, surfing, and fly fishing—all of which I do with my sons. I’m generally not very comfortable on land, but I’m pretty good on a horse.
Meet Christopher Arnold: Data whisperer, Analytics virtuoso, Mentor and a Chronic learner