Emily de la Pena

Emily de la Pena

Emily de la Pena is an entrepreneur and the founder of Coding Kids, a company that provides coding workshops for school children and professional development for teachers.

At School

Emily went to secondary school in Brisbane where she studied Maths B, Chemistry, Physics, Legal Studies, Accounting, English and Study of Religion.

I have always enjoyed and was curious about Maths and Science and found these subjects a lot easier than English and History.

She did Legal studies and Accounting as well as Maths and Science so that she could cover all her  bases.

I didn’t know what to study at uni, I just knew that I really loved Maths, Science, and problem solving. So I thought engineering would be a great opportunity to use those skills and contribute positively to the community.

University and first job

Emily completed a Bachelor of Science and Civil Engineering at university and a Certificate IV in Small Business Management at TAFE.

Her first job was waiting tables at a restaurant, which she did whilst at university.

After she graduated from university, Emily worked as a graduate civil engineer at an Australian engineering consulting firm. Her area was traffic and transport planning.

Emily’s advice to students

Emily stresses the importance of understanding yourself, knowing who you are and understanding your own values. She advises not to just follow things that are encouraged by parents or teachers or media, but understand who you are and follow your values, your interests and your passion.

Follow your passion, when you do that, you will succeed because you already love it.

Emily says that the key personal attributes and skills that have contributed to her success are:

  • communication and critical thinking
  • leadership and team building
  • process optimisation
  • business development
  • good customer service.
My values are lifelong learning, giving back to the community and independence. Always keep learning because that will support you in your journey towards whatever you want to achieve for yourself. Stop thinking about jobs and careers. These concepts are limiting. Focus on your lifelong learning, solving problems and creating positive social impact.

Becoming an Entrepreneur

Emily spent 10 years as a civil engineer before starting her own business. During those 10 years, she had gap years, firstly in Germany, teaching English as a second language for after school and school holiday programs.

In her second gap year, she explored different ideas and industries. She volunteered to run coding classes for students and she worked with a technology start-up company, where she saw how new businesses are formed and how technology is changing the world, changing the nature of jobs and how we do business.

I recognised an educational shortfall, in Australia, between the developments in technology and the lack of training to introduce people to the world of technology and programming.

Emily completed business training and developed an adaptable education program for schools, child-care centres and community spaces. The program introduces children and adults to computer programming and coding. It also aims to encourage enjoyment and creative aspects of learning about technology.

Emily’s current job

In 2016, Emily started Coding Kids, which is a company that runs after-school code clubs and school-holiday code camps for students from Prep to Year 9. It also runs professional development for teachers.

Coding Kids is based in Brisbane and their programs are delivered at over 30 schools around South East Queensland. Emily has developed online programs, which are accessed by customers around Australia and overseas. The programs have also been delivered in regional areas such as the Torres Strait, Mt Isa and Thargomindah.

Emily’s day-to-day work involves managing her team of 35 tutors, supervisors, her social media team and customer service person. She sees her main role is to support her team so that they can do their work as best they can. She meets with school principals, heads of curriculum and teachers to discuss how Coding Kids could work in their school. She says that she also responds to anything else that might end up in her in-tray.

My aim is to see my business succeed and grow and create positive social impact globally.

Why is coding important

What’s so beautiful about learning how to code is that it’s not just learning the language and how to write up a program but it’s about turning a person who is a consumer of technology into a creator of technology so that they can build their own products and their own digital solutions to solve community problems.

STEM at work

STEM outreach is my business. Coding Kids promotes digital literacy education. From a business side, we optimize our business back end operations by automating as many processes as possible.