Featured Colleague: Tanya Mahan Merges Creativity and Logic in a Visual Analytic Role

By Dani Moritz-Long

Growing up an only child, Tanya Mahan, organizational development HR analyst, says she filled her time with a peculiar hobby — one that very few (if any) of her peers shared with her. Long division.

“I would sit down and do long division for the fun of it,” she recalled with a wry laugh. “But, I’ve also got a lot of creativity.”

Today, Tanya combines both her creative and logical mindsets in a role highly reminiscent of her childhood hobby.

“The combination of wanting to do long division and make it pretty is exactly what I picture myself doing here,” Tanya said.

That’s because in her role at Valencia College, Tanya is tasked with analyzing data to produce Organizational Development and Human Resources (ODHR) reports that support ODHR leadership in tracking changes, meeting goals and planning for the future. To accomplish this, Tanya uses a program called Tableau to visually present data in a way that’s engaging, insightful and actionable.

“It’s more than just doing the calculations and throwing the numbers on a screen,” Tanya explained about her role presenting data. “It’s making it relateable, making it easy to read and easy to understand. At the end of the day, if I solve whatever problem and present it in a way that’s not palatable, it’s not actionable and it wasn’t worth the time. I need people to understand what I’m trying to show them.”

For example, Tanya has produced Tableau databases that track the diversity of our candidate pools and whether the diversity of our employment candidates has grown over time. She’s also currently reviewing data regarding growth at Valencia College — analyzing how people with certain roles five years ago have grown within the College.

The complexity, and coupling of logic and creativity, makes Tanya’s role the perfect fit for her — although working in ODHR wasn’t in her initial plans.

Actually, Tanya’s first degree is a bachelor’s degree in theater. Her second: an associate degree in film and television production.

And while Tanya did enjoy a career in entertainment — starring in multiple roles with Universal, including an evil clown and a veterinarian explaining the anatomy of an animatronic triceratops, as well as in costume fabrication, attractions operations and entertainment venue management — the lifelong learner eventually pivoted careers. She worked for the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, where she pursued her master’s degree in sociology with a focus in crime, and, later, the Cassleberry Police Department, where she earned a graduate certificate in crime analysis.

At that point in her career, Tanya was looking for a role that offered more hands-on analytical work. At the same time, former classmate Jessica King, director, HRIS and analytics, had posted a job opportunity doing just that at Valencia College.

Despite not having a background with Tableau, the program used by the HRIS and analytics team, she decided to go for it — and she’s glad she did.

“I love learning and, being a fish out of water, there’s so much to learn,” she said. “Valencia hiring me has been a huge confidence booster. It’s wonderful to feel so valued.”

Jessica noted, “Tanya’s unique background in creative arts and social sciences helps to make her work not just insightful, but beautiful as well. What’s more, she is eager to jump in and tackle ambiguous projects. I love that I can draw squiggles on a board, talk about what we’re trying to figure out and, in no time at all, have a stunning tool to guide conversation and aid in decision making. So much of the work Tanya does centers around data that is messy, complex and intimidating. Tanya is able to transform it into works of art.”

Check out some of Tanya’s analytics work below.

Know of someone who embodies one of Valencia’s values (learning, people, diversity, access or integrity), who has been an employee for at least one year? Send the colleague’s name to us at The_Grove@valenciacollege.edu. He or she might be one of our featured colleagues, subject to supervisor’s approval.

1 Comment

  • Jessica King said:

    We're so happy to have you! You're such an amazing partner and colleague!

    AMWed, 11 Sep 2019 08:38:43 +0000Wed, 11 Sep 2019 08:38:43 +0000am19,8:38 am

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