DataViz Challenge 2024: Transforming Data into Powerful Stories

The DataViz Challenge, an annual event that brings together students from across Europe to showcase their data visualisation skills, took place end of May with an exciting final round. Co-founded five years ago by Sandra Richez, Global MBA Director at EDHEC Business School, and Professor Yvan Fornes, the challenge aims to cultivate data skills among students while emphasising the positive impact data can have on society. This year's winner is Federica Pinza, a student pursuing a Double Degree at Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore (UCSC) and Dublin City University (DCU).

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7 Jun 2024
DataViz Challenge 2024


The Origins and Objectives of the DataViz Challenge

"The DataViz Challenge started as an internal event within our MBA programme at EDHEC," explains Sandra Richez. "We decided to scale it up and make it a Europe-wide competition with the support of Tableau and UNICEF. Our primary goal is to help students develop their data skills while supporting sustainability, and to remind them that data can be used for good purposes. Our themes always reflect this, and this year it was around disability and childhood, although students could choose any UNICEF mission to focus on." 


“This challenge pushes students to go beyond classroom learning, encouraging them to create impactful visualisations that can drive real-world decisions and changes. It's about making data meaningful and actionable. Moreover, as a business school, we have a vested interest in developing these skills in our students because businesses urgently need talent capable of handling and interpreting data effectively.”, explains Sandra Richez. 


Sandra Richez further emphasised the underlying values that guide the competition: innovation, impact, and engagement. "These correspond to EDHEC’s values, and we wanted the challenge to reflect them; “data for good”, “data with purpose”. It's inspiring to see students from various countries come together, driven by a common goal of creating impactful data visualisations."


EDHEC Business School has demonstrated a strong commitment to data education launching the MSc in Marketing Analytics in 2017 and introducing the new Master in Management, Data Analytics & AI for Business track in September 2024. These programmes are designed to equip students with the skills needed to thrive in the data-driven business landscape.




Federica Pinza: A Journey of Passion and Perseverance


Federica Pinza's journey to winning the DataViz Challenge is a story of passion, hard work, and discovery. "My Data Analytics professor at DCU introduced me to this competition," Federica recalls. "I was immediately captivated by data visualisation. Creating my first Tableau dashboard for an assignment unveiled a hidden talent and ignited my enthusiasm for the challenge."


Federica's project focused on the gender gap in education, particularly in developing countries. "Using UNICEF data, I explored how poverty and factors like child marriage, limited sanitation facilities, and school fees disproportionately affect girls' education. It was important to me to highlight these issues because, as a woman who has benefited immensely from education, I deeply understand its transformative power."


The path to victory was challenging. "Mastering Tableau was difficult at first. There were moments of frustration, but through persistence and guidance from my professor, I improved my skills and crafted a clear and engaging narrative," Federica shares.



The Power of Storytelling in Data Visualisation

Both Sandra Richez and Federica Pinza emphasise the importance of storytelling in data visualisation. "For me, the graphs were tools to illustrate a story, not the centre of the story itself," Federica notes. "Crafting a clear and engaging narrative was my priority. This approach ensured that the insights from the data were effectively communicated."


Sandra highlights that storytelling is a vital skill for data professionals. "It's not just about presenting data; it's about making it meaningful and actionable. This is something we aim to instil in our students through the DataViz Challenge."




Enhancing Employability and Career Prospects

Participating in the DataViz Challenge significantly enhances students' employability. "Data visualisation skills are highly valued in sectors like consulting, finance, marketing, and any field that relies on data-driven decision-making," Sandra notes. Winners and finalists receive mentoring from industry leaders and coaching sessions to further their careers. These experiences and connections are invaluable. Additionally, having a portfolio of high-quality data visualisations and being able to say they were finalists or winners in this challenge can be a significant advantage when applying for internships or jobs.




Future Aspirations and Advice for Aspiring Participants


Winning the DataViz Challenge has opened new doors for Federica. "I plan to further enhance my data visualisation skills and consider pursuing a specialised master's programme. An internship in this field would help me determine if it's the right career path for me."


For students considering participating in the next DataViz Challenge, Federica offers valuable advice: "Infuse your personality into the visualisation. Choose a topic you are passionate about and can discuss with ease. Keep it simple and pay attention to detail. Most importantly, don't panic, have fun, and give it your best."


Sandra also advises students to start early: "Visit the DataViz Challenge website to access resources and view past visualisations. Work closely with professors and take relevant electives to build your skills. Focus on mastering the technical tools and also on the storytelling aspect of your visualisation. Consider the message you want to convey and your audience. Continuous learning and practice are crucial. Start preparing well before the competition officially opens to give yourself the best chance to excel."




Enhancing Learning and Social Impact


The DataViz Challenge is more than a competition; it is a platform for learning and making a difference. Sandra Richez summarises the essence of the challenge: "Our goal is to help students improve their skills and deliver better data visualisations that UNICEF can use in their work. This challenge is about making a difference, both in the participants' lives and in the world."


Federica Pinza's success story exemplifies the spirit of the DataViz Challenge—combining data skills with a commitment to social good. As the competition evolves, it continues to inspire and empower the next generation of data enthusiasts.



For more details about the DataViz Challenge and to view this year's winning visualisations, visit our website.

DataViz Challenge 2024
7 Jun 2024
DataViz Challenge 2024: Transforming Data into Powerful Stories
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🌟 Dive into the #DataVizChallenge 2024! This year’s winner, Federica Pinza, captivated judges with her project on the gender gap in education, using UNICEF data to highlight pressing issues. Her journey is a testament to passion, hard work, and the power of data storytelling. 📊✨

“Our goal is to help students improve their skills and deliver better data visualisations that UNICEF can use in their work,” says Sandra Richez, co-founder and Global MBA Director at EDHEC Business School. 🌍📈

#DataForGood #DataScience #Innovation #EDHEC #UNICEF #Education #GenderEquality #DataAnalytics

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