Interview with Sireesha Pulipati

We got a chance to sit down with Sireesha and find out more about her experience of writing with Packt for her first book Data Storytelling with Google Looker Studio.

Q: What are your specialist tech areas?

Sireesha: Business Intelligence, Data Analytics, Data Engineering, Data platforms.

Q: How did you become an author for Packt? Tell us about your journey. What was your motivation for writing this book?

Sireesha: When the Packt team first approached me with the idea of a book on data visualization and Google Looker Studio, I got really excited. Through this book, I wanted to provide a wholesome package to aspiring or beginner data analysts and BI developers, which contains foundational concepts and a practical approach to creating data stories along with the nitty-gritty of using the tool well.

Q: What kind of research did you do, and how long did you spend researching before beginning the book?

Sireesha:  Conducting research has been the most enjoyable part of the journey with the book. Before starting to write, as I was developing the detailed outline, I perused the existing books on Looker (Data) Studio and other similar tools, understanding the specific approaches those authors had taken. This helped me to design the content to provide unique value to the readers. I spent about a month doing the initial research. Thereafter, researching relevant topics and writing the chapters went mostly hand-in-hand.

Q: Did you face any challenges during the writing process? How did you overcome them?

S: Juggling the writing alongside a full-time job and family had been the biggest challenge – not only from the time perspective but also from context switching and mental detachment perspective. The process of writing can become all-consuming at times. There were also some moments when I felt really alone on this journey, trying to make a lot of micro-decisions about the content all by myself. From the scheduling standpoint, I quickly identified the best times and ambiance I would need to focus on writing several days a week, if not every day. I learned to detach from my day job and focus on the book and vice-versa at designated hours and by changing my work environment. Soliciting feedback from friends and acquaintances on some early drafts helped me get the hang of the writing style and the flow, which in turn enabled me to better adjust and shape the book along the way.

Q: What’s your take on the technologies discussed in the book? Where do you see these technologies heading in the future?

S: I’ve always loved Looker (Data) Studio for its easy availability and ease of use. I’m very excited about Google Cloud’s strategy to consolidate its Business Intelligence portfolio, with Looker being the central hub. Both the deep integration with the Looker platform and the new Pro tier are wonderful things to happen to Looker (Data) Studio. In the future, I see Looker Studio playing a greater role in democratizing BI, both for individuals and organizations.

Q: Why should readers choose this book over others already on the market? How would you differentiate your book from its competition?

S: This book provides a unique mix of both theory and practice, enabling readers to imbibe the basic foundations of visualizing data first and then learning how to use the tool to build effective data stories. Its most distinguishing feature is the structured approach that walks the readers through the thought process that goes into determining, designing, and developing the data story and the many micro-decisions and considerations that may be taken throughout the process.

Q: What are the key takeaways you want readers to come away with from the book?

S: Through this book, I want the readers to gain enough foundational principles about visualizing data and approach telling stories with data through dashboards in a structured way, starting with clearly identifying the objectives, then conceptualizing and designing the dashboard before actually developing it. I very much want the readers to get comfortable using Looker Studio to meet their various analytical needs. Above all, I want readers to take this knowledge, apply it to their own use cases, and continue their journey with Looker Studio.

Q. Do you have a blog that readers can follow?

S: I occasionally write on Medium at sireeshapulipati.medium.com about various data-related topics.

Q. What advice would you give to readers learning tech? Do you have any top tips?

S: Be curious. Get the pulse of what the broader trends are in the industry – new tools, frameworks, architectures, processes, and more. Follow tech influencers and their work on social media, blogs, podcasts, etc., to get a broader perspective. To dive deeper into your choice of technology, get hands-on, build projects, and, more importantly, teach someone.

Q. What are your favorite tech journals? How do you keep yourself up to date on tech?

S: I like to peruse Gartner research papers and TDWI’s Business Intelligence journal whenever I get a chance. These are not free resources, though. Dataversity provides some great content on the latest trends. I also follow Wayne Eckerson’s work to keep myself updated.

Q. Can you share any blogs, websites and forums to help readers gain a holistic view of the tech they are learning?

S: KDNuggets, Analytics Vidhya, and Dataversity are a few websites that provide a holistic view of data analytics and related technologies. To learn more about Looker Studio and its role in the broader analytics and BI space, I encourage the readers to look at Google Cloud blogs and official documentation.

Q. How would you describe your author’s journey with Packt? Would you recommend Packt to aspiring authors?

S: My journey with Packt had been effortless and delightful. The whole process was very structured, right from the conception of the idea and outline to the actual writing to productionalizing the book and marketing it. And it’s managed very efficiently every step of the way. The Packt team is really supportive, empathetic, and highly encouraging. I would definitely recommend Packt to others.

Q. How did you organize, plan, and prioritize your work and write the book?

S: The detailed book outline, which listed all the chapters, their objectives, and major subtopics, created at the outset, had been crucial in helping me navigate the path smoothly until the end. I mostly wrote during the evenings and weekends. Before starting to write a chapter, I began with the detailed outline defined at the start of the project and added finer details, examples to use, etc. I did research in parallel to gather additional relevant information as necessary. Once I had the narrative flushed out, I started writing. As the chapter developed, I incorporated any new ideas that came up to enhance the narrative.

Q. What is that one writing tip that you found most crucial and would like to share with aspiring authors?

S: Write first, edit next. It’s a common inclination to want our writing to be flawless even from the get go. We find ourselves constantly editing and reframing sentences even as we type them. This habit really inhibits the flow of thought and is highly inefficient. First, jot down all your thoughts about a topic in whatever words, phrases, and sentences (even incomplete ones) that come to your mind. Then go back and polish it in multiple iterations. This is much faster and stress-free. In full confession, I haven’t perfected this technique yet myself and am far from it. But consciously changing my behavior whenever I caught myself hung up and finding the right words to express my ideas had proved to be effective.

Q. Would you like to share your social handles? If so, please share.

S: You can connect/ follow me on LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/sireesha-pulipati/.

You can find Sireesha’s book on Amazon by following this link: Please click here

Data Storytelling with Google Looker StudioAvailable on Amazon.com


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