Typical 24: Sophie Sparkes, Tableau Software
Human Resources

Typical 24: Sophie Sparkes, Tableau Software



Name: Sophie Sparkes

Job title: Manager – Tableau Public at Tableau Software

Company: Tableau Software

Location: London, UK

Years’ experience: 10 years working experience, 5 years working with data


  1. What time do you reach the office each day?
    As the work I do covers Australia to the US to Europe (a grand total of 17 hours of different time zones), my start time constantly varies. Some days, for example, I get in between 8:30 and 9:30 but other days, I work virtually so I can start earlier or a bit later in the day.
  2. Is your job varied?
    That’s what I love about my job - there’s no “standard” day. One day I’ll be preparing materials for a new product release or drafting training materials for students, and another day I’ll be running an international campaign. No day is ever the same!
  3. Is your job creative?
    100%. Because of the nature of the product, we get to build a lot of data visualizations, as well as help others create visually compelling visualizations themselves. Because of this, it involves a lot of creativity when it comes to design.
    My job is also creative in terms of problem solving. A lot of what we do involves thinking outside out of the box, giving me a lot of freedom to try new methods and practices within my team. 
  4. What do you spend the majority of your time doing?
    As my job is so varied, it’s really tricky to pinpoint just one thing. Since our Tableau community is so diverse, my priorities are as well. For example, my team is very focused on improving and scaling our training efforts so that our community can expand their knowledge and get better with using the product. I spend a lot of my time creating new materials, assets and content to help them improve. I also spend a lot of time building awareness about Tableau to both engage and expand our community. My team and I write blog posts and are very active on social media which we use to share product updates, give data tips and promote Tableau events. Because we are always innovating at Tableau, I’m constantly learning about new developments and ensuring we share these with our community.
  5. Do you personalize your desk?
    Because I’m often working remotely, my desk is pretty clear and tidy. However, I do have a favourite pen wherever I go!
  6. Would you describe yourself as creative?
    Definitely. One of the key parts of my job is to clearly communicate information in a visual way (through data visualization and graphic design). It’s taking data and telling a compelling and insightful story with that data. This is something that I do on daily basis. 
  7. Do you have any quirky daily rituals?
    I drink a lot of tea; I will always have green tea first thing in the morning and then in the afternoon. Then at 4pm, I always need my daily dose of chocolate. Those rituals hardly ever change, no matter where I am.
  8. Do you tend to work on your own or with colleagues?
    A bit of both. My colleagues are all over the world – from Frankfurt and Paris to as far as North America. I would say however, that we all work very closely together. As the job is so varied, I would say that you need to be happy working in both teams and on your own.
  9. How many hours on average do you work a day?
    No one day is the same – just depends on what’s going on that day!
  10. Roughly how much time do you spend each day on email? Taking calls? In meetings?
    It completely depends. Because we want to be connected with our community and they are all over the world, the time spent on email and calls in order to communicate and respond effectively can be quite high.   
  11. Do you use social media much for work?
    Social media is definitely a part of my work persona. It’s also a really important part of our building awareness of Tableau and engaging with our community who are very passionate about data and actively share their learnings on social media platforms.
  12. What do you enjoy most about your work?
    It’s never boring. I love that there’s always something new to do and try so you are constantly evolving and pushing yourself to go above and beyond by doing more. We have a very ‘try and test’ culture at Tableau which makes it really interesting.
  13. What type of music (if any) do you listen to at work?
    I often listen to classical music. By listening to a whole opera or symphony for around 45 minutes, I’m able to concentrate for long periods of time, with soothing, non-distracting sounds.  
  14. What do you do for lunch?
    I’m fortunate that we have a well-stocked kitchen so I have a lot of choice for food at lunchtime. What I do love is a good toasted sandwich. I prefer to eat in the office as it’s a great time to use that lunch space to catch up with colleagues from all different parts of business.
  15. Do you socialize with work colleagues?
    Absolutely! We do quite a few social events in and out of the office.  We’re a pretty close-knit team and a very friendly office so these events are great opportunities to get to know each other better.
  16. Are there any tasks (through your career) you’ve been especially glad to get rid of?
    Inflexible working hours. Today, it’s much better for work-life balance to work somewhere that offers more flexible working hours. Secondly, paper filing! With the move into digital technologies, it saves so much time and is a lot more efficient.
  17. What is your last task of your day?
    I look at my calendar for the next couple of days and work out my top three priorities for the next day. It’s a great way to keep me focused on my work.
  18. How do you like to relax after work?
    A glass of wine never hurts! But there are two things I finding relaxing: first off, checking out new bars and restaurants with my friends or my husband. Secondly, I am a huge fan of chilling out in front of the TV in my pyjamas. The true definition of ‘Netflix and chill’.
  19. Do you keep checking email through the evening?
    On occasion I do, but mostly due to time difference. I do like to keep track of what’s going in order to help plan for the next day.  
  20. Do you take work projects home with you?
    As a big part of my job is being good with the product, the best way I find to improve my skills is simply by working with Tableau at home. I find the best approach is to analyze data sets you find interesting.  There is a lot of publically available data that is interesting to analyze – from bumblebee flight paths to city-specific crime rates. Recently, I built a data visualization which looked at my dad’s music listening habits!  He was pleasantly surprised to see his music habits brought to life.
  21. What would you say to your 20-year old self?
    Show, not just tell. The world has changed a lot since I started working. What I find the most useful in my career is the ability to share information, and your skills, visually. It’s an important skill to have, (one I definitely picked up at Tableau). Instead of just talking about great ideas, it’s even easier for people to understand your idea or to prove your point if you show it.  
  22. If you could try out any job for a day, what would you choose?
    I would spend a day in the fresh air being a park ranger. Somewhere like this little beautiful town called Merimbula on the coast of south east New South Wales, Australia.
  23. What device did you use to answer these questions?
    A combination of my laptop and my phone – truly mobile working!
  24. Do you use your own personal device for work?
    I do use my personal phone for work calls and for emails. However, because I’m often working with the product (Tableau) to build data visualizations, drafting training materials, or collaborating with our community, I use my work laptop to do a lot of my work.


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