Interview with Karen Hinson
Karen Hinson is my kind of mom superhero. Why? Because aside from working full-time as a Senior Lead Analyst at Chick-fil-A, she takes care of FOUR children with her husband of 14 years. Her kids range in age: a little 10 month old and then a 2, 6, and 7 year-old. Now that’s a busy household! In her personal time, Karen loves running/working out and visualizing data. I don’t know how she always has a smile on her face, but she does! She’s enjoying life and helping to share realities about the data visualization space as a mother with other mothers.
Lindsay Betzendahl (LB): How did you discover Tableau and join the #datafam community?
Karen Hinson (KH): I began using Tableau when I joined Chick-fil-A in 2013. Initially, I began networking with other Tableau users via the Atlanta Tableau User Group. However, my #datafam has grown exponentially over the years through Tableau Public, Twitter, and connecting with others at Tableau Conference.
LB: Wow, so you have been using Tableau for almost 7 years! How time flies. Exponential growth is a good phrase. The more you engage, the more people you engage with, and the more people you engage with, the more you learn. The more you learn, the more you share, which results in meeting more people. With all those people you meet, the Tableau community can feel like family sometimes. Tell us what makes the community so great in your opinion?
KH: Members of this community share a unique bond based on a common passion and energy for data visualization and a respect and admiration for each other’s skills and expertise. So many people have bent over backwards to help, encourage and support me – I am blown away by everyone’s generosity.
LB: Agreed. I’m always shocked by how much time people give to others. Time that isn’t compensated or returned. People genuinely just want to share knowledge and help the community. Given that, I know motherhood takes a ton of time. Lots of unconditional love and attention to little ones. You have four kids, so I’m curious, what is your favorite thing about motherhood?
KH: How incredibly rewarding it is. It’s certainly not easy and requires plenty of hard work and personal sacrifice, but it’s so worth it. Children are such a blessing. I often feel overwhelmed with all the responsibility that comes with motherhood, but I also feel incredibly lucky every day for my family. I get the honor and privilege of raising these children and watching them grow. If I can manage to do that well, I doubt there’s any other endeavor that could ever compare in terms of satisfaction and pride in a job well done.
LB: That is so true. Kids are a joy. Their unbounded love, energy, curiosity, and innocence are amazing. Speaking of energy, I lack it at times. What are some challenges you face trying to balance family life with data life (including your work life)?
KH: Unfortunately, for a mom with four young children, it is incredibly difficult to “balance” work, family, and pursuing Tableau as a hobby. It is a zero-sum game. The reality is that anytime one of these things edges out another, it comes at a cost. If I’m at work and have to leave unexpectedly mid-day to pick up a sick child from daycare, work suffers. On the other hand, if work spills over into the evening, family suffers. And any free time I spend vizzing is time, I’m not spending with my kids and my husband.
LB: You put that into words perfectly. I feel the same way. Balance is a tricky skill and I’m still working out what it really means to me. For example, right now I’m putting together this post, while my husband is with the children playing. Balance is about finding priorities and ensuring things get the time they deserve and that you actually want to give them. What advice do you have for other mothers in the data viz space?
KH: Pursue your passion and don’t forget who you are. Perhaps that sounds at odds with my previous comment, so I’ll explain further. Although I’m recognizing above that it is impossible for all these things to “balance” and it will often feel as if one of them is on the backburner (sometimes work, sometimes family, sometimes vizzing), I also recognize that we each have personal goals and interests that are important to us. If one of your goals is to push yourself to excel in Tableau, by all means, make that a priority and carve out whatever little bit of free time you possibly can. While I don’t recommend letting ambition (to achieve X goal) totally overshadow what really matters in life, it’s nice (and good for mental health) to have an identity aside from “wife” and “mom.”
LB: Very well said. I think that is the crux to finding balance. We mother are individuals too, not just defined by motherhood. Many can relate to being defined by your job or your family. But really, it’s about your own aspirations, which can change as your life changes and as you live your life. So what else is part of your “identity”? How do you create time for those hobbies you enjoy?
KH: I have very few hobbies. During this season of life, my time is extremely limited and I absolutely have to prioritize what I feel is most worthy of my time. Outside of work and family activities, I prioritize running (for health and fitness), teaching Sunday School at my church, and co-leading the Atlanta Tableau User Group.
LB: Well those sound like fun activities and I’d say they are hobbies! But I hear you, maybe what was once our thought of a hobby (some solo activity perhaps) has changed. The blurring between family, work, social, personal, etc. has occurred. I’m okay with that for the most part. But I realize it’s a huge hurdle for many mothers to get over – that blurring of the lines and feeling pulled in all directions. What’s one thing you think we can do to support other moms who viz?
KH: We can learn from each other! We can share success stories and practical tips around juggling demands of family and work while continuing to grow Tableau skills. Let’s elevate/recognize women who are doing this well.
LB: I love it. Perfect ideas for the #MomsWhoViz community! So lastly, I must ask since we are about vizzing moms here, what is your favorite viz that you’ve done and why?
KH: I’m pretty proud of this one (which I recently created for the Women In Analytics 2020 Data Viz Competition).
For more information on #MomsWhoViz, please check out my original post here and my viz template here. Subscribe to follow my blog for more updates and interviews with other mothers in the dataviz community.
Also, please email me if you know of mothers who should be spotlighted by emailing me a link to a visualization they have done.
Thanks for reading!