April 6

Olivia Liddell – Arabic Teacher Turned Curriculum Developer at AWS (#46)

Academia, conferences, Developer, Education, Software Engineering, Speaker



Olivia Liddell is a Technical Curriculum Developer at Amazon Web Services. Over the course of her career, she has created innovative teaching and technical training solutions for learners from diverse backgrounds and skill levels.

A Certified Ethical Hacker, Olivia frequently speaks on topics such as social engineering and security awareness. In her spare time, she enjoys distance running, studying linguistic anthropology, and developing web applications for Arabic language learners.

Click Here –> For more information about tech careers

Episode Summary

“If I gave kids a worksheet and said ‘do this’ they would feel bored. After playing this computer game, not only were they saying ‘Ms. Liddell, I want to learn more about this’, but they were also competing with each other. They said ‘Arabic was fun!’“

—Olivia Liddell

In this episode we’ll cover:

  1. What is social engineering?
  2. Mischievous activities Olivia did to get her family kicked off AOL
  3. What is the day to day of a curriculum developer at Amazon Web Services (AWS)
  4. How sharing your ideas on Twitter will help you speak at conferences

Key Milestones

[2:19 ] – In college, Olivia studied anthropology and middle eastern studies. After taking on jobs assisting higher education, Olivia decided to become a teacher through The Academy of Urban School Leadership. This was a big move for her.
[4:49] – Olivia taught Arabic in middle schools. She had to work hard to engage her students, After some time, she started to incorporate her love for technology into teaching.

[7:05] – There weren’t many language computer games out there. Yet there were plenty of games for math and science. This is when Olivia decided to take a shot at creating content and developing games.
[10:30] – Olivia recalls talking to a mentor who inspired her to develop educational games.

[14:30]- Olivia started writing content and games on AOL. She also recalls first encountering the ‘view source’ button and how it changed her life!
[17:27] – Olivia talks about how she keeps up with new technology. She has cultivated an inspiring twitter feed. She often prefers learning in tidbits as opposed to taking formal online classes.

[19:24] – How did Olivia get into speaking at conferences? Listen to one of her speeches here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=roFiSHyUmCk
[21:50] – Practical tips to improve your communication skills: Think about literally where is this person coming from? What was their morning like?
[25:15] – If you’re afraid of public speaking, start with baby steps. First, start sharing your ideas on twitter, and then on other platforms. After you’re comfortable sharing ideas, speaking on stage isn’t as scary.

[27:24] – What is a certified ethical hacker? How does one get into information security (info sec)? What mischievous activities did Oliva do to get her and her family kicked off AOL?
[29:05] – What are the various roles in information security?

[31:45] – How has Olivia used social engineering tactics in her career?
[34:50] – Oliva’s new job at AWS (Amazon Web Services) as a curriculum writer. What is the day to day?

[36:33] – Olivia describes transitioning from delivering content to students to only writing content these days. What are some challenges that come with curriculum writing?
[42:15] – How was Olivia able to bring forward her various strengths including social engineering, development, anthropology and linguistics?

Additional Resources

Selected Links from the episode:




You may also like

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}


Subscribe now on your favorite player

Listen on Apple Podcasts
Listen on Overcast
Listen on Spotify