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Industry Insider: Katie Gottwaldt, AAMA

Posted by Guest Contributer

updated over a week ago

During the 19th century, French essayist and novelist Marcel Proust—the author of In Search of Lost Time—created a parlor game that involved filling out a questionnaire to get to know the "true nature" of dinner guests. "Industry Insider" is the testing industry's take on Proust's game—an opportunity to get to know our colleagues just a little bit better.
Katie Gottwaldt
Katie Gottwaldt
Director of Certification
The American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA)


Where do you work and what is your job title? I work for the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) as Director of Certification. How long have you worked in a job that involves test security?  11+ years. Why do you think test security is important?  Examinations assess a candidate’s knowledge, skills, and abilities in a secure environment. If an individual were to gain an unfair advantage in any way, it could harm the integrity of the exams and cost not only the organization that developed them, but the profession as well. What is your favorite thing about your job? I love the new challenges I face daily—it keeps me on my toes and keeps me continuously learning. I also truly value my coworkers and volunteers. They work so hard to support our candidates and credential holders and ultimately advance the mission of the organization. What is the biggest challenge to test security today? I would say human fear, anxiety, and pressure—they’re the drivers for cheating and the creativity around it. I’d also say organizational bandwidth to handle security incidents. What do you think will be the biggest challenge to test security 20 years from now?  See my previous answer. I don’t think this will change, and motivated cheaters will adapt to any new technology. We need to be prepared and stay on top of it. Why do you think people outside of this industry should care about test security? A compromised exam could diminish the overall value of a program or credential, which could in turn damage the outlook of the entire profession—not to mention the safety of the individuals that profession serves. It is in the best interest of those outside of the industry to work together to hold each other accountable in an effort to ensure the protection of the public. What do you consider your greatest achievement?  In addition to my amazing daughter, the friendships and connections I’ve made. If you could choose one superpower to help you in your quest to keep tests safe, which superpower would you choose? Omniscience—that way I would know what was coming and how to handle it. What is one thing that is sitting on your desk right now that is completely unrelated to work?  Family photos. What workplace skill do you wish you were better at? Querying our database. I’m relatively new, so our database logic is still something I’m learning. What is your lunchtime routine?  Jogging on the treadmill or wandering downtown Chicago (weather permitted). What characteristic do you most value in a friend/colleague? Honesty. What characteristic do you most dislike in a friend/colleague?  Indecisiveness. What words or phrases do you think are most overused in life and/or at the workplace? “It is what it is.” Though, I’m guilty of using it myself! What are your hobbies outside of work? Staying active with my family and engaging with my parent network. Which person (alive, dead and/or fictional) do you most admire? Can it be people? My parents, hands down. What or who is your favorite book or writer? Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series is excellent. If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be? In times of high stress, my cat, because she sleeps all day. Otherwise, I’d choose to come back as someone with a profession I could never fathom being in, like an astronaut or a skyscraper window washer. I’m not a fan of heights or flying, so I think it would be fascinating to have a completely different outlook and mindset in which my irrational fears no longer existed. What is your motto? “Every wall is a door.” ~Emerson



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