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Who's the Chart Champ?

Updated: Dec 4, 2018

First off, if I had to describe Chart Champ in one word it would have to be, WOW! We had an amazing turnout of almost 80 people and 8 extremely talented contestants. Everyone brought their A-Game to this event and it showed – everyone in the audience was eagerly anticipating each contestant, and each contestant was seemingly better than the last!


In the spirit of keeping things simple I’ve broken the night down into 4 areas; Rules, Competitors, Judging, and Results.


The Rules:


The rules of chart champ were fairly simple – build a one-page dashboard utilizing at least 1 (one) of the provided data sets (Mass Public School Data) and showcase your work in a presentation to our esteemed judges! Winners would receive an Oculus Rift (1st), Amazon Echo (2nd), Galaxy Tablet (3rd).


The Competitors:


1st Presenter – Michael Perlis

Mike, an MBA student at Babson, was up first in the contest (lucky him!). His dashboard was designed like a report card you would have given to your parents (sometimes begrudgingly) back in high school. What was really striking about Mike’s dashboard is how effectively it combined regional maps, parameter driven scores, and google map embedding. It was a nice dashboard for sure and our judges only had a few minor critiques.



2nd Presenter – Brian Calvanese


What can I say about Brian? Two things actually – 1) He makes VERY clean dashboards, I mean like eat off the kitchen counter clean and 2) He’s an AWESOME storyteller. Brian had a very well thought out (and presented) story that the judges ate up. His dashboard helped users draw conclusions about metrics that are typically the bread and butter of schooling (teacher performance, teacher student ratios, etc) and helped turn them on their head with some great outlier analysis. His performance was solid and it would be hard to follow him up.


3rd Presenter – Xiaojun Wu


Xiaojun had one of the shorter presentations at Chart Champ, but that’s all he really needed. His dashboard focused on SAT scores and their relationship with both household income and graduation plans. Xiaojun had some good correlations and had a minimalist dashboard that made it easy to hear what he was saying.


4th Presenter – Abe Ahn


Abe, a Business Analyst at Boston Scientific, had a very colorful and I’d add very insightful dashboard. His work clearly focused on income vs. education and provided an easy to use highlight-heavy interface that could quickly call out clusters of under and over performing schools and the correlation to household income. Abe’s presentation was also solid and to the point, which went over well with the judges (and the audience!).


5th Presenter – Jai Singh


Jai’s dashboard was a stunner even before he started talking. It had a sleek chalkboard design (a nod to our school-related data) with a eye-appealing color palette (matched to the pieces of chalk on the board!). After Jai started explaining his work, it really started hitting home that this dashboard was a literal “goldmine”. His crowning feature was a sankey diagram which essentially split out the “golden nugget” outliers of High SAT Score / Least Expensive housing combos. To top it off, he had a snoop dog quote at the end (censored for the audience of course).



6th Presenter – Jason Smith


Jason’s dashboard used the favorite topic (SAT Scores) and combined it with graduate plans. His colorful scatter plots drew the judges and audience in as he showcased the outliers in each of the scenarios. With only 2 years of experience Jason was able to pull together a solid dashboard as well as an insightful presentation.



7th Presenter – Igor Plesca


Igor, a Finance Project Manager at Staples Corporate, took a different approach than anyone else in the competition. Instead of trying to find nuggets of insights in the data, he made his dashboard as utilitarian as possible. His target audience was families, people who wanted to pick where they worked, put in a mile radius, and get a list of schools ranked by the different metrics that interested them. His dashboard was clean – one of the cleanest in the competition and he used color very effectively, being sure to avoid using color for colors sake!



8th Presenter – Brian Halloran


Brian, being a data viz and BI manager, already had street cred before the competition by having some stunners on Tableau Public, but he really gave us a treat in this one! His dashboard was clean, slickly designed, informative, and had RADAR Charts! I mean, who doesn’t LOVE a good radar chart, am I right? Needless to say, Brian did an awesome job knocking the socks off the crowd and the judges with his great work!



The Judging


Once the presentations were complete (they took about 1.5 hours to get through), the judges had to hand in their scores. To expedite the judging process, judges had been given score sheets which they had been filling out while people were presenting. Contestants were scored in 3 main categories:

  1. Design (40%): Design is always a big part of dashboards. If no one is interested in your work visually, it’s hard to believe that they will gain any insights out of it. Each judge graded the contestants on a 1 – 10 scale, with 10 being the absolute best a contestant could do.

  2. Functionality (40%): Prettiness aside, making sure that a dashboard is functionally sound is fundamental to succeeding not only in competitions, but in your day job as well. Just like the Design portion, functionality was also based out of 10.

  3. Presentation (20%): Something you don’t typically see in dashboard competitions is a presentation score. Often this is overlooked as being a “soft skill”, but selling your work is sometimes more important than designing well. Presentation was scored 1-10 with a 20% weighting.

Once the judges were done with their scoring sheets, I entered their scores into my master spreadsheet. Prior to the competition, I had built a data feed to a Tableau sheet which would automatically apply the weightings and rank the competitors. After all was said and done, the judging only lasted about 5 minutes!


The Results

While everyone did an amazing job at this year’s inaugural chart champ competition, there were a few standouts who took the prize! Below is a bar chart from my chart champ judging dashboard which lays out the weighted scores and final rankings.


Congrats to Jai, Brian H. and Igor on their wins! It was an unforgettable night and we will be sure to have another competition in 2017!



Special Thanks To:


Our Esteemed Judges

  • Diana Weldon

  • Anthony Chamberas

  • Karl Chopelas

  • Darren McGurran

Chart Champ MC

  • Matt Folgelgren

And last but not least, the Cleartelligence Crew!