September 9, 2020

Kenny Ly of Accenture Mines Business Processes to Extract Valuable Information Regarding Performance and Speed


It has become a pattern to attach the word “mining” to business-driven nouns to amplify their meaning, such as data mining and intention mining. At a recent webinar hosted by workforce accelerator Promotable, Kenny Ly, a Senior Manager of Data Analytics at consulting firm Accenture, offered such a linguistic combo: process mining. This means analyzing the data resulting from a sequence of activities executed internally (stakeholder) and externally (consumer, customer) to accomplish a goal. Following are a couple of areas Kenny addressed which got my attention:

Qualitative Data → Kenny anchored the qualitative (or “anecdotal” as he pegged it) with the quantitative. This enables corroboration between two types of data amassed in carrying out a process. The quantitative complements the qualitative. But they feed each other. Besides being one of the world’s best, natural resources, words constitute basic data. They’re valuable—demonstrated constantly by self-expression, characterized by diction, sentiment, tone and viewpoint. These dimensions apply to sentiment analysis—otherwise called opinion mining.

Shortcuts → When Kenny stated, “Not all conformance is bad,” I smiled (cautiously). A process is elastic. It can be improved to gain efficiency. Or a well-intentioned improvement can unintentionally, as the high-fantasy writer J. R. R. Tolkien put it, “make long delays.” The fidelity of calibrating complexity is a tricky exercise—nonetheless, worthwhile, concerning quality and ultimately: safety. Jason Fried, who co-founded web-based project management software Basecamp, gave this mindful directive that connects with the time and energy swallowed by processes: “Beware [of] many shortcuts in a row.”

From deconstructing the qualitative to devising shortcuts as they relate to data analytics and science, mine fully—decide wisely.

Thanks again to Promotable who fuse their virtual workshops with talks organized regularly online! Explore their channel on YouTube.


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August 23, 2020

Design Feast’s Makers Series—107th Interview: Freelance Web/Product Designer and Developer Andrew Couldwell is Laying the Foundations for Practicing and Sustaining Good Design Systems

Andrew and his wife, Meagan, with the twins, exploring a trail in Los Angeles

I’m game for the appreciation of systems thinking—particularly applied to the medium of the Web with regards to designing web-based products and software. Delighted to have discovered a book about this convergence: “Laying the Foundations” (2019). Researched, written and produced by Andrew Couldwell who focused on realizing a guide to define, illustrate and ultimately demystify the practice of design systems—its creation, documentation and maintenance. Here, Andrew goes through the intensive process of making his book about a valuable discipline for designers who work on all things digital.

1. How did you become interested in design systems to the point of writing, designing, and publishing a book about this topic?

I was essentially living in the design system space for a few years between two full-time jobs in New York City. I had designed brand, marketing and product design systems at Behance for the launch of a new product called Adobe Portfolio, before moving onto WeWork where I established their digital brand guidelines and two design systems to serve their various digital products.

About a year after returning to the greener pastures of freelance, my wife (also a designer) and I were invited to run a design workshop in Ohio. The organizers were particularly interested in design systems, so I prepared what was meant to be a segment of the day, which quickly escalated into hours of material! I had been taking a break from design systems since returning to freelance, but this workshop made the amount of experience I had in the field—and a desire to share that knowledge—too obvious to ignore. And so the idea for a book emerged.

Editing a website with the Adobe Portfolio editor

2. When and how did you first encounter a design system?

I’ve been working on design systems for the best part of a decade—long before the industry gave it a name. I never really gave much thought to it as a practice, since, as a designer and a developer, it just made sense to design and build systematically. The first time I came across the term “design system” was in 2016 when my manager, Bobby Ghoshal at WeWork challenged me to find ways to standardise the work a few different product design teams were working on—giving me the new title of “System Design Lead.” I had to “Google it”! Haha. Back then, there wasn’t much information on “design systems,” which is hard to believe now—you’d struggle to find a product designer who hasn’t written an article about it! It was very fortunate and opportune timing for me to be one of the first few to be writing about and exploring how design systems can help in-house design teams work more efficiently.

Digital brand guidelines created for WeWork

3. Your book-making process: What was the timeline for the design systems-centric project “Laying the Foundations”?

I started writing in November 2018. It took me about 2 months to finish the first draft. The editing process took a few months. The book was designed and ready to go in Summer 2019, but the process of finding a printer dragged on for a few long, frustrating months. The self-publishing space is frustrating, to put it mildly. I wrote about my experience—if you’re interested in self-publishing, it’s worth a read, it’ll save you a lot of time and money! “Laying the Foundations” finally went on sale on October 16, 2019.

My book “Laying the Foundations”

4. Your book-making process continued: What was the writing experience like for making “Laying the Foundations”?

I really enjoyed the writing process. As I’m self-employed, I stopped taking on any client work for a few months and essentially locked myself away and got it done! I started with a document outline. I wrote down the chapter titles and a rough, bulleted list of what to cover in each chapter. The outline and order changed throughout the writing process, but it was a great start to map out what I needed to write—aiding how the chapters worked together to build on the lessons learned from chapter to chapter.

I then just took it a chapter at a time. I didn’t write the book in any particular order—I tackled the chapter I was feeling the most inspired to write about at the time. I’d say each chapter took a few intense days of writing, reading, re-writing, reading, and repeat until I was happy I’d covered the topic. I didn’t overthink it, I just let the words flow out of me, raw and unedited for as long as I had the energy to write, then I’d read what I wrote and edited it down into something that made sense! I probably deleted more than half of what I wrote!

The process didn’t always involve writing, I spent a good amount of time breaking from writing to research the subject—looking to extract quotes, insights and best-case examples to illustrate the points I was making.

Arriving at a first draft was a crazy milestone, but only really the beginning. The editing process was where the book really came into its own.

5. Your book-making process continued: Did you have a writing schedule? How many rounds of drafts? Did you work with an editor? Et al. Do tell.

There was no writing schedule, at least not in a formal sense. The only time restriction was: the more time I spent on the book, the less time I spent doing paid client work! I wanted to give “Laying the Foundations” my full attention, but those pesky bills keep coming every month and unfortunately, you can’t spend all your time working on personal projects.

I think maybe we went through 3 full drafts. I’m not really sure. My editor was my wife, Meagan Fisher. We self-published the book under our studio name, Owl Studios. Meagan is a designer-developer too, as well as an English Literature graduate, so her insight was invaluable across the board, from content to structure to grammar!

6. Your book-making process continued: What are your writing tools? Do you use notebooks? Any brands you’d recommend?

Google Docs! That’s it. I’m actually a huge fan of sketchbook work in my design process, but a digital tool like Google Docs is perfect for writing a book as it’s so easy to write, any time any place—be it on your phone or at a computer. And it’s a brilliant tool for collaboration, which was critical to the editing process with Meagan and I iterating and commenting on the same document.

Editing process of “Laying the Foundations” in Google Docs

Beyond the writing process, I used…


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August 8, 2020

Coping with COVID–19: Econometrician Jerrod Begora Channels the Timely Forces of Communication and Creativity

Jerrod Begora, Director of Analytics at marketing solutions provider Quad, recently spoke about the impact of COVID–19 on economic activities at a virtual talk hosted by workforce accelerator Promotable. He gave a lean tour of sheer disturbance (and disruption) across varied industries, from food processing to retail to hospitality, affected bottom-up, top-down by the pandemic. From his narration of consumer behavior and its potential staging of opportunities for data analytics/science in these unsettling times, I kept channeling (gerund surely intended) a major source of ingenuity. Rather than referring to the world of econometrics which Jerrod geeks on, I contemplated on the world of dance—specifically the pioneering artist Martha Graham (1894–1991), whose prime directive was:

“Keep the channel open.”

Underscore “channel.” In relation to Jerrod’s presentation, the meaning of this word and concept is twofold:

Channel—as in communication channel. Jerrod framed communication within marketing. Content strategy is also a part of this in addition to user experience (UX). To marketers, Jerrod strongly encouraged an omnichannel-data outlook regarding which communication channels are capitalized on by people sheltering in place, along with learning and working remotely. Beyond marketing, communication is a staple of business infrastructure. Pre-pandemic, it may have been regarded as a no-brainer. Post-pandemic, communication is an indispensable capability. To communicate via a variety of methods (omnichannel) will never be observed as a passive priority. One example: communication is at the core of Microsoft’s Workplace Analytics experiment of studying their teams’ adaptation to producing and collaborating from a distance. From its summary: “Human connection matters a lot, and people find a way to get it.” Communication can obviously be channeled in a variety of technological ways—to not be taken for granted.

Channel—as in creative channel. When asked what he would revisit and adjust early on in his career as a Data Analytics Analyst, Jerrod revealed that he “pulled back too much” in sharing ideas. In the search for ideas, Jerrod essentially nudged people to express, not repress. Ideation is a continuum energized by creativity—to be kept channeled.

Thanks again to Promotable who further nurture their virtual courses with expert perspectives through their coordination of regular events online! Explore their YouTube channel and Events at LinkedIn.


Support Design Feast on Patreon!
Your visiting means a lot. Lots of hours are put into making Design Feast—because it’s a labor of love to provide creative culture to everyone. If you are able to contribute, please consider becoming a Patron to support this long-term passion project of mine with a recurring monthly donation—every bit of support makes a difference in allowing me to generate all of this content on a regular basis. Thank you for your consideration!

July 14, 2020

To Embark on a Career in Data Analytics and Data Science, Data Analyst Sean Sullivan Points to Self-Kindness as Key in Building an Accomplished Portfolio of Work


How to build a data analytics/science portfolio that increases your hiring chances was the topic of a recent talk hosted by data-upskill school Promotable. Sean Sullivan, a data analyst at media agency Spark Foundry, offered solid steps, from finding a data set that genuinely interests you to minding and communicating your process throughout the data-portfolio-creation effort. The high-order bit I found the most important from Sean’s presentation was this grounded prompt:
“Be kind to yourself.”
Sounds like Sean was channeling BrenĂ© Brown and Arianna Huffington, the champions of well-being. With an economy constricted and a job market deflated, Sean’s self-care directive was meaningfully apropos in these tensely dramatic times. Making a portfolio of work, focused on data analytics/science in this case, is an accrued testimony of lessons and accomplishments. Done to continuously gain knowledge and launch a professional path—requiring precious variables: time, energy, speed and money. Progress is an all-consuming goal—worthwhile for having the career most desired. Professional portfolio-building, like any thirsty pursuit, is inherent with challenges, disappointments and positively formative moments. As Sean concisely prescribed, best to be kind to the determined protagonist in your ambitious story: you.

Thanks again to Promotable who further nurture their virtual workshops with expert perspectives through their generation of regular events online! Explore their YouTube channel and Events at LinkedIn.


Support Design Feast on Patreon!
Your visiting means a lot. Lots of hours are put into making Design Feast—because it’s a labor of love to provide creative culture to everyone. If you are able to contribute, please consider becoming a Patron to support this long-term passion project of mine with a recurring monthly donation—every bit of support makes a difference in allowing me to generate all of this content on a regular basis. Thank you for your consideration!

June 30, 2020

Sean MacCarthy of Mega-Retailer Claire’s Upholds Curiosity as an Admirable Variable when Working with Data


Fashion is taste-making. Its industry depends on identifying and seizing the pulse of personal, aesthetic expression. Data is at the core of this cultural enterprise. The unbridled coverage and tracking of what styles escalate to peak interest (and purchase) relies on data analytics/science. Enthusiasm for this kind of data-driven work was palpable throughout the talk given by Sean MacCarthy, a strategy and insights executive at retailer Claire’s, in a lecture hosted by data-skills school Promotable. His nerdy proficiency of data amplified in the fashion industry—particularly channeled and harnessed by AI (artificial intelligence) and ML (machine learning)—was apparent.

Claire’s business model is a contemporary template for every company taking advantage of the operational benefits afforded in data—collecting, analyzing and managing it. Data remains the super staple food for a brand to excel.

When asked about how he hires for his data-inquisitive team, Sean scouts for these characteristics:
“Really curious. Really hungry. And self-starting attitude.”
It’s no surprise that the first emphasis was on curiosity, because it’s not only one of the most PR’d qualifications, it’s also perishable. The next work-trait of “hungry” turns curiosity into diligence for seeing ideation and problem-solving through. Then “self-starting” is the built-in drive to put things into motion and achieve productivity (another championed job requirement).

Such pristine attributes rank high in Sean’s professional criteria, a greatly essential list, in attracting the best minds over matter—the digital chemical of data in this case. The beauty of such a hiring menu is that it’s not only beholden to job-screening data analytics analysts and data scientists. Curiosity. Drive. Motivation. These are durable indicators in seeking ideal members to join a work culture—of the positively geeky persuasion.

Thanks again to Promotable who expand on their virtual workshops with expert perspectives through their planning of regular events online! Explore their channel on YouTube.


Support Design Feast on Patreon!
Your visiting means a lot. Lots of hours are put into making Design Feast—because it’s a labor of love to provide creative culture to everyone. If you are able to contribute, please consider becoming a Patron to support this long-term passion project of mine with a recurring monthly donation—every bit of support makes a difference in allowing me to generate all of this content on a regular basis. Thank you for your consideration!

June 23, 2020

Minding and Mining the Truth: Strategic Analytics Analyst Kate Lee Distinguishes between Data Analytics and Data Science


Kate Lee is a Strategic Analytics Analyst at big-data company IRI which specializes in CPG (consumer packaged goods). At a recent event hosted by data-upskill school, Promotable, she discussed the differences between the roles of data analytics analyst and data scientist. From her perspective, the former is essentially focused on reporting and insights-generation compared to the latter whose foremost concentration is parsing causal relationships to inform predictability. The scale and scope of the data sets collected and examined also varies between the two disciplines. Kate’s elaboration of the distinct differences between these two fields provides a great primer for anyone, data-literate or not, who is curious about them as potential career paths.

Until Kate’s talk, I perceived data analytics and data science as synonymous. Not only was this assumption of mine corrected, she clarified their respective purposes which are jointly vital in helping people and organizations navigate this era of the brutally “new normal.” Though the objectives and focal points are different between data analytics and data science, this statement from Kate’s opener rung true:
“We tell the truth.”
This is a claim, a call-to-action and an oath wrapped up in a bite-size proclamation. Whatever is revealed by data is also supported by it—whether the revelation is fancied or not. Especially now, truth and outcomes matter a lot. More than ever, how data is utilized helps make the decision-making process much less shallow.

Although practitioners of data analytics and data science may differ in their roles, they share the same mission: to inform choices.

Thanks again to Promotable who further contextualize their virtual workshops with relevant perspectives through their planning of regular talks online! Explore their channel on YouTube.


Support Design Feast on Patreon!
Your visiting means a lot. Lots of hours are put into making Design Feast—because it’s a labor of love to provide creative culture to everyone. If you are able to contribute, please consider becoming a Patron to support this long-term passion project of mine with a recurring monthly donation—every bit of support makes a difference in allowing me to generate all of this content on a regular basis. Thank you for your consideration!

June 4, 2020

Trust and Triangulation: Abbott’s Jayant Rajpurohit on Data Analytics during the Coronavirus Pandemic


In these times inflicted by COVID–19, data is a necessity. How people and resources are organized and mobilized depend on it. In a recent webinar organized by data-skills school Promotable, the role of data analytics in this unfamiliar climate was addressed by Jayant Rajpurohit, a Global Lead for Market Research and Strategic Analytics in the Transfusion Medicine division at healthcare and medical devices company Abbott. Two data-centric factors that resonated the most with me from his presentation were:

Data Trust → Rigorous governance of data cultivates trust. As Jayant posed, “Can these data metrics be trusted into the future?” Only trustworthy sources lend themselves to be trusted—over time.

Data Triangulation → Instead of just, as Jayant put it, “spitting out data,” make sure it’s reliable—not rote. Continually cross-validate the data to ensure it’s correct and achieves consistency.

Data analytics stirs discussion and vice versa. The productivity of data-driven interactions counts on trust and triangulation. They provide quality data to inform quality decision-making. Helps to foster certainty when uncertainty spreads.

Thanks again to Promotable who augment their virtual workshops with relevant perspectives through their planning of regular talks online! Explore their channel on YouTube.


Support Design Feast on Patreon!
Your visiting means a lot. Lots of hours are put into making Design Feast—because it’s a labor of love to provide creative culture to everyone. If you are able to contribute, please consider becoming a Patron to support this long-term passion project of mine with a recurring monthly donation—every bit of support makes a difference in allowing me to generate all of this content on a regular basis. Thank you for your consideration!