A Cloud Guru needed a customer-focused leader who understood the creativity and care required to produce a memorable learning experience. Tia Williams was promoted from within to fill the Director of Content Production role. Now, Tia and her teams are responsible for the production of the 250+ courses and 1,500+ hands-on labs on the ACG platform.
I sat down for a virtual chat with Tia to learn more about going from humble beginnings to managing the largest hands-on cloud curriculum in the world. Her goal has been to impact the lives of as many people as possible. Today, her reach extends to over 2.5 million learners across the globe, but she has a goal of reaching 10 million in the coming years.
What Tia is looking for: “I want people who genuinely care about other people. People who are genuinely interested in trying to make the world a better place.”
Before we get into work stuff, what are you a guru at outside of work?
I am striving to be a guru at cycling. My husband and I cycle on local trails; it’s a great way to get outdoors and stay in shape, but the hills always get me, LOL. I’m thinking about getting an electric bike: they provide pedal assistance and can help you go up to 28 mph.
The other thing I love to do is play games. Board games, card games, video games, VR — it almost doesn’t matter what type of game it is. I think it’s more about spending time with friends and family. It’s part of my daily mission to keep my family smiling and laughing.
Becoming a Training Architect isn’t always the obvious career choice. What initially attracted you to the role?
I felt like I could impact people’s lives. My beginnings were very humble, and I knew the impact that a career in IT had on my life and the life of my family. I wanted to be able to give that back to others. At the time, I had been working as an instructor for almost a decade, but all my teaching was face to face. I would spend a week with 8–20 people in a classroom, and then the next week I had a whole different group.
“I knew the impact that a career in IT had on my life and the life of my family. I wanted to be able to give that back to others.”–Tia Williams
I was deciding between pursuing an in-person classroom position at AWS and coming to work at Linux Academy (now A Cloud Guru). For me, it was an easy decision to make. As an online instructor, I could impact thousands of people at a time. I also love working for a smaller company, because I have a greater ability to do good and impact more students. So when the position was offered, it was a no-brainer.
When Linux Academy was acquired by A Cloud Guru in December of 2019, I was given the opportunity to step into the role of Director of Content Production across the combined org.
Now as Director of Content Production, what is your vision for our content?
Learning is supposed to be fun. It’s not only about the technical details. What’s important is that it is also engaging, memorable, and that it imprints upon a person, because it speaks to them in some way. I want our content to be something that speaks to people. You quite often hear people talking about how they took a course elsewhere that was dry. Yes, it covered a topic, but they didn’t feel connected to the instructor or the material, which makes the content harder to retain. I want everything that we do to create a connection between the instructor and the student. I want students to feel like they are part of the ACG family.
“I want our content to be something that speaks to people.“–Tia Williams
I want our instructors to enjoy creating content so that their passion comes through in their courses. The students see something genuine that they can connect to. That’s why I did the rap video, to lead by example. With the way the world is right now and where people’s minds are at, I wanted to take the time to realize that we are here because we all love to be here. We love what we do. I want the joy of that to stay in it for everyone on the team.
What is your leadership style? How do you empower your teams?
I pride myself on being able to tag the right people to use their strengths to get us to where we need to go. I know that I can’t take everything on my own shoulders, so I empower the people who work with me to help us to get there.
“I pride myself on being able to tag the right people to use their strengths to get us to where we need to go.”–Tia Williams
Many years ago in my first management job, we worked in a very complex environment. There was so much diversity in what we did, that to get work done, I had to depend on people in different groups. I saw that it helped us be more successful. That’s a big thing with diversity; it’s not always about race or gender. It could be a difference in experiences that brings a unique perspective. I strive to take advantage of that. I try to use those differences in such a way that everyone gets the opportunity to contribute to what they find interesting and exciting while also getting the job done.
What do you want people to know about you?
People tell me that I can be intimidating, so I am very reserved initially when I interact with people and I guess people interpret that in different ways. I typically start out by listening and observing others before interacting heavily. Some think “I’m all about the business,” but I think it’s important to enjoy what you do, and I will also go the extra mile to do what I can to help others.
What type of people are you looking for to build out your teams?
I want people who genuinely care about other people. People who are genuinely interested in trying to make the world a better place. I look for those who are passionate about helping students meet their career goals (which are ultimately their life goals). And I want someone who brings a fresh perspective, and is willing to say, “Hey what about this?” Those are the people that bring a lot to the table in a way that translates into success for our students.
Find your place at A Cloud Guru
Curious about joining the content team? We’re hiring in all departments — from on-screen to behind the camera. Go to the ACG Careers Site Content Team page to learn more.