For over four years, Katie Wrabel has managed Immuta’s Documentation and Training team. Before joining Immuta, she taught composition and literature for 10 years. Katie has a bachelor’s degree in English and Education and a master’s degree in Literary History.
When Immuta’s Instructional Design Manager and Documentarian Katie Wrabel talks about her team and their role, she describes a bridge that spans between the end users and where they want to go with Immuta’s Data Security Platform. Her team’s goal is to provide the knowledge and support needed to guide them in their journey across the divide.
This interview explores how the next generation of data security experts are being empowered to succeed through innovative (and free) self-service educational resources.
Katie, you have a background as a teacher. Can you tell us a little bit more about that and about how teaching translates to what you’re doing as an instructional designer?
Really, my job as an instructional designer is the same that it was in the classroom, minus maybe some of the behavioral problems that I had to deal with. My team’s responsibility as instructional designers is to deliver content in a way that accommodates and appeals to a variety of learning styles and background knowledge, the same as in a high school classroom. So, much like what I did when I was teaching, we start with a learning objective in mind, some goal that our learner needs to achieve, and then all readings, videos, activities, and assessments support the learner in reaching that goal.
Ultimately my team is here to help our customers use our software effectively, protect their data, and enable their teams to achieve their business goals. We’ve got a number of personas who use our software and a number of use cases, so we have to be really mindful when we’re designing material that it has an immediacy and a relevance to all of our users. We’re employed by Immuta, but my team’s responsibility ultimately is to the end user and what their goals are.
You bring up a good point about how you’re working with customers. Is it your team that’s designing a learning program for customers, or are you more focused on curation? How does that work?
That’s a good question. We design the learning programs for our customers. So, we’ll work with subject matter experts, like product engineers and customer success who are in the field, but we’re the ones designing the content and delivering it to customer success, who offers it to our customers.
You’re also a documentarian – and in a software environment, documentation is especially important. Can you explain a little more about what kind of value that brings to people wishing to self-serve their learning path?
Yeah, there’s a lot of overlap between those two responsibilities. As a documentarian, my team manages the documentation site, which is publicly available to customers and prospective customers, and is more than just a collection of instruction manuals. It’s not just about how to use our software, but it also explains and describes how it’s built, how our architecture is designed, how our integrations work, how various policies work, how to use them in various contexts, and why.
So, the responsibility is really the same as an instructional designer. Our responsibility is to the reader and to present the material in a way that no matter who they are or what their knowledge is, they can navigate it and achieve whatever their business goal may be. Or, maybe they have a learning goal, and just want to understand more about our architecture to make a business decision. Documentation is really a way for us to provide and empower our customers to be able to self-serve. They can consult our documentation without having to engage with someone in customer success. They can do that independently.
One of the things you just mentioned that I thought was really interesting – and I love the transparency – is that this is public knowledge. So, how many pieces of content do we have out there that are available for public consumption? And to follow up on that, as a layperson, can I go and learn data security best practices and what it takes to actually run a world-class data security program from the content that you’ve provided?
You could. Our documentation is literally a thousand pages long. There’s a lot of content out there, and we actually just recently published our best practices on our documentation site, which covers how to adopt a data security and governance solution. What does that look like for you, even if you don’t have one? And that [information] we gathered from our customer success team, which includes people who’ve been working in the field for years, watching customers go through this journey. Now, that’s publicly available to anyone. We also have a number of videos out there as well.
So, again, it’s almost like a public service in some ways. Let’s talk about the future of data security, because data security is really still a nascent area. Companies are still sorting through cloud data security problems, and very often they’re promoting individuals from within to help. They’re identifying folks and saying, “You’re the expert now, you go out there with Immuta and become our data security expert.” With the content that you’re providing, what are your thoughts about how this field is growing and the importance of the content that you’re providing on the field?
I think the education piece, whether it’s documentation or the courses that I described, is essential for people in that journey. For those who have or haven’t been able to identify people within their organization, we do have resources that can empower them to become experienced in data security so they can lead their teams. We have experts [at Immuta] in data security that my team is able to tap into for guidance and give feedback on our content, and then we’re able to share that knowledge, to pass it on, which is really what I love about what I do. Our understanding, our knowledge, and our experience, it’s not something that we hoard. We share it.
Visit Immuta's Self-Serve Documentation
Integrating with Snowflake, Databricks, Redshift, Azure or Starburst? Immuta simplifies the construction and enforcement of complex data policies through simple-to-build rules, allowing you to control and monitor data as it’s accessed, view the policies at work across your data environment, and ensure that compliance requirements are met.DOCUMENTATION
You mentioned something earlier about your user-centric approach to learning.Can you explain a little bit more about that and why that is so important to what you’re doing?
Sure. Being user-centric or learner-centric means instead of shaping our content based on Immuta – what our features are or what our business goals are – we shape our content based on the user and their background knowledge, their understanding, and their goals. Because as people, we understand the world through mental frameworks, called schemas. That’s how we organize and order our understanding of what goes on and what we encounter. So, in order to really understand something, you need to have it fit within or somehow build upon or reshape an existing understanding of the world. We have to reach people where they are in what they already understand, and then scaffold their knowledge to get them to where they want to be, or to reach some goal. We need context and connection as people to make sense of the world around us, especially when these concepts are so abstract, like data, or privacy, or governance.
So, as an instructional designer or a documentarian, if I can compare a new concept to something that you already know through an analogy or a contrast, that helps you make those connections and build that context for yourself. I actually had this happen in a workshop with a customer. I was trying to explain our policies and how tags and attributes work, and I could see in his face that he wasn’t getting it. And then he said, “Oh, it’s like locks and keys,” and he was able to use this analogy of a lock and a key to understand unlocking data for a specific user if they had that key. I said, “Yes, that’s it,” and I actually used that analogy in future trainings because I was able to take something that people already get, so they could understand something new.
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Paul Molinari is Immuta’s Director of Brand Marketing Strategy.
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