Q&A with Michelle Sun, Founder of First Code Academy

By Lau  /  January 14, 2016

There are plenty of of misconceptions surrounding coding, many view it as a career for geeks but breaking this myth is Michelle Sun, Founder and CEO of First Code Academy. With both beauty and brains, Michelle Sun launched First Code Academy, a coding school for kids in Hong Kong in 2013.

Growing up, Michelle wasn’t a tech- geek but a straight A’s student interested in maths. After graduating with an Economic degree from the University of Chicago, she hustled her way through the world of finance as a banker for Goldman Sachs. During this time, she was exposed to the technology field and learned how to code. This lead to shifting from the financial world to the technology industry. She headed to Silicon Valley and spent weekends teaching young students how to code at a community program at Stanford University which laid the foundation for First Code Academy. We chatted to Michelle about her greatest accomplishment  and some of the low points in her career. 


What are you up to at the moment? 
 I am currently CEO of First Code Academy, an education startup that I founded in 2013. We offer computer programming, technology, entrepreneurship and creative education for kids and teens. Our team is operating in Hong Kong and Singapore. 
Right now I’m working toward building a team of high caliber, passionate individuals, and building top quality computer programming, technology and entrepreneurship curriculum to offer to kids. 
Qualities do you need to be an entrepreneur
  • A growth mindset: an entrepreneur’s job is all encompassing and ultimately involves solving new problems every day. In order to be resilient from setback and challenges, one needs to focus on a growth mindset and view challenges as opportunities to grow. 
  • Persistence: building a startup involves getting our heads bang on the wall all the time. Believe in your ideas and do not give up in face of rejection. 
  • Optimism: choose to see the bright side of each incident and focus on the long term goal.  
What has been your greatest accomplishment?
Greatest accomplishment so far is to build a team of passionate, talented individuals who share the same vision. Working with them everyday has been rewarding and fulfilling. 
What is the high point and low point of your career?
 There are many highs and lows even within a day; I believe an entrepreneur should focus on the long-term goal instead of being affected by short term rewards or set backs. 
High point – definitely seeing students succeed. One of our students was invited to give a TED X speech earlier in March, where he shared his passion in coding and how much it meant to him. It was one of the proudest moments for me as an entrepreneur so far. 
Low point- when I did my first startup, we bootstrapped and failed to launch the product after 9 months. It was difficult to close down the business and a valuable lesson that startups are really tough. 
What is your beauty regime?
I mostly focus on hydrating. 
How do you relax from work?
I love working out! I exercise 4-5 times a week when possible. I mix in cardio (long distance running), weights and strength training (TRX) etc. Sweating it out is the best way to relax and clear the mind. 
Favourite cities in the world 
There are many amazing places and I love discovering new cities. I love cities by the sea and the people I meet there. 
  • Barcelona: I love the happy, passionate people and of course the beautiful Gaudi architectures. 
  • Cape Town: I visited there for World Cup and can’t wait to be back again! It’s a beautiful city, Table Mountain was surreal, and drive to Cape Point was breath taking. I also loved playing with Penguins up close :)
  • San Francisco: I lived there for 1 year and a half and it changed my life. It’s a place full of possibilities, where people are keen to help each other fulfil their dreams. 
 Top 5 favourite pieces in your wardrobe
  •  Leather jacket 
  • Converse shoes
  • Black skinny jeans
  • A basic DVF wrap dress
  • Black suit jacket 
5 things you can’t live without
  • Family and
  • My iPhone and wifi  
  • A good book
  • A good workout 
  • Feeling inspired 



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