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.
Where do you work and what is your job title?
I work at Okta. I am a remote employee. I work out of my home office in Little Elm, TX. My title is Director of Certification.
How long have you worked in a job that involves test security?
13 years.
Why do you think test security is important?
 Without test security, test scores are unreliable. Validity is at risk when credentialing programs cannot say with certainty that the pass/fail decisions they are making are accurate. Without test security, people who shouldn’t earn certifications will likely earn them. The public eventually loses confidence in the compromised credentials.
What is your favorite thing about your job?
I enjoy speaking with certification candidates, especially the detractors. It is an amazing experience to listen and hear how passionate certification candidates are about your certification programs or why they think your certifications are worthless and no one should ever consider pursuing them. My best days on the job are when I convert a detractor into a believer and a subsequent promoter.
What is the biggest challenge to test security today?
The inappropriate use of information technology to harvest and distribute test content – as much as information technology has provided many solutions to test security-related problems, technology continues to open new avenues for bad actors.
What do you think will be the biggest challenge to test security 20 years from now?
Cultural Practices/Influences – People are always at the center of every system. We make systems work, and we also break them. In societies where cheating on tests is tolerated or justified, or the value placed on skills assessment through examination is low, test security issues are likely to persist far into the future.
Why do you think people outside of this industry should care about test security?
Everyone should care because test security affects all of us. I wouldn’t feel comfortable boarding a plane with a pilot who cheated on his or her exam. I am pretty sure most people wouldn’t choose a doctor who cheated on his or her exam either. If we downplay the importance of test security, we open the door to folks who might cheat their way through to become pilots, doctors, food inspectors, crane operators, systems engineers, etc., and the end result will likely be catastrophic.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
I have a lot ahead to accomplish. I have barely scratched the surface. However, I would consider my greatest professional achievement my journey at a previous employer from entry-level exam developer to eventual general manager of the certification and exam development team, a pretty decent achievement. But, I don’t dwell on the past. I am focused on my current opportunities and looking ahead to greater achievements.
If you could choose one superpower to help you in your quest to keep tests safe, which superpower would you choose?
Mind Control – to change the minds of all who have the desire to cheat or facilitate cheating.
What is one thing that is sitting on your desk right now that is completely unrelated to work?
A picture of my wife.
What workplace skill do you wish you were better at?
Smalltalk – it is necessary at times to build rapport.
What is your lunchtime routine?
Learning something new while I eat at my desk. I work from home.
What characteristic do you most value in a friend/colleague?
What characteristic do you most dislike in a friend/colleague?
What words or phrases do you think are most overused in life and/or at the workplace? "
Optimize" – improve, enhance, or make better. "Leverage" – in the sense of make use of or take advantage of. "Game Changer" – something that changes the way things are done in a significantly improved way.
What are your hobbies outside of work?
Spending time with my family; I also watch a lot of sitcoms.
Which person (alive, dead and/or fictional) do you most admire?
My grandmother, Lulia B. Roberts. I learned a lot about being a decent human being from her. She was also very funny in an unintentional way.
What is your favorite book or writer?
The Lords of Poverty: The Power, Prestige, and Corruption of the International Aid Business by Graham Hancock
If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?
I am not Catholic, but I would say the male equivalent of “Mother Teresa” – a selfless, loving, and caring person.
Kpayah Tamba
Director of Certification
Kpayah Tamba, Director of Certification, OKTA
Excellence Edition
Kpayah Tamba
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