Founder Feature: Lady-Omega HammondThis week we sat down with Ampersand CEO and STEMBees cofounder Lady-Omega Hammond. Read on to learn why Bozoma Saint John is her tech idol and more!
Where are you from?
I’m from Asere Dzorshie, Accra, Ghana
Tell me a bit about your company.
Ampersand Technologies Ltd, is a software development company that is revolutionizing how businesses and individuals become efficient using technology. We are not your average software developers; we are problem solvers. We believe that technology is a powerful tool that can practically solve our day to day problems if the right solutions are created. We connect people and technology by building world class, robust software that can be used on a daily basis to improve lives.
[caption id="attachment_6282" align="aligncenter" width="665"] The Ampersand Team[/caption]
Why did you come to MEST?
I came to MEST to prove to myself I could be worth more than what school had presented to me. After university, I didn’t want to have a normal job I wasn’t excited about. I had always wanted to start a business, but I didn’t know how and where to start. I loved computers and always explored them as a hobby. MEST presented an option where I could turn a hobby into a job and make money. I was curious to learn how that would play out and what I could make of it.
How did MEST help get you to where you are today?
MEST pushed me out of my comfort zone, to aim for the best and work hard for it. The training program created a learning environment for me to learn how to learn. I didn’t realize how much I could achieve by being put in a high pressured environment that pushes you to give your best. It provided the foundation for me to start my company.
What do you wish you had known as an EIT? Do you have any advice for this year’s group?
I really pushed myself as an EIT, but I saw this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I didn’t want to disappoint myself, so I gave it my best shot. I would advise them to stop giving excuses (learning so much so fast, food is not nice, internet is slow, etc.) and maximize the opportunities they have at MEST. You only have today so don’t waste it; have fun, learn hard, and stay focused. Don’t take for granted the basic needs that have been covered by MEST. Save your stipend and be realistic with yourself.
If you could go back in time to when you were just starting your company, what would you tell yourself?
I’d tell myself not to overthink; be more confident and not let other people’s opinions control how I feel. I’d read more when I had more free time on my hands and try new things just to explore different opportunities instead of sticking to what I know. I would tell myself to understand that this journey of building a company is one I haven't done before, so I will enjoy every experience and make it count, but it is one of patience - and hard work always pays.
What have been some of the biggest challenges you've faced while at the MEST training program and the MEST Incubator? How did you get past these challenges?
The learning curve and time management were some of the biggest challenges I faced. Everything was timed at MEST, and it cost you if you were late to class or couldn’t submit an assignment. It was hard keeping up in the beginning, but I had to learn how to wake up early and time myself so I could plan ahead. This actually changed my life forever, and I appreciate time more now so I get the most out of each day.
In the incubator, my team decided to go into consulting to figure out at our own pace an idea that works for us. We declined funding, but still got the opportunity to work from the MEST Incubator in Accra. We understood we would not be treated like the other companies, but it was tough and made us uncomfortable.
We are not there yet, but our experiences in the incubator made us unique and carved in us a spirit of not giving up; we don’t stop learning and we keep growing.
What would you say is your greatest success?
Building Ampersand with my team and our journey together, how we met and how we connected was so surreal. It first started like a dream and we didn’t know what to expect, but we just had the drive and excitement to create our own world. When we didn’t know what to do we went to God and He gave us the strength to keep going. The experiences so far have been valuable, and I’m so excited about what the future holds for us.
What’s your favorite food?
I love Jollof Rice with goat meat, kelewele, and a vegetable salad, I’d have toblerone for dessert any day.
What do you like most about Ghana?
I love the diversity of cultures and the peace we have. Radio morning shows are lit with the discussions of currents issues and challenges the country is facing, but we keep doing our best to bring a change wherever we are. Irrespective of our differences, from the richest to the poorest, everyone does their best to maintain the peace and sanity.
What is your favorite memory from your time at MEST?
Final Pitches! From the pitch rehearsals to when we gave the final delivery of the capstones we had been tirelessly working on. As teams come on with mixed feelings and a little confidence, there’s an energy in the room made up of a mix of brilliant people from different walks of life patiently waiting to hear the next big thing to happen in Tech. Listening and cheering on the teams who await the “judgement” of their ideas from Jorn and the guests, to have experienced this was really thrilling for me.
Who is your tech idol? Why?
I have loads of them but at the moment, Bozoma Saint John. I love her style and confidence. With all of her achievements, she stands out as a c-suite executive turning heads when she speaks. Her motivations keep her humble and I love that even though she is non-technical she has a good grip of how to sell Uber for everyone to understand. She’s a good role model for a lot of African females and I’m inspired even more because she is Ghanaian.
What is your favorite tech company? Why?
Google. I just appreciate how very technical the products they build are but users are able to interact with it and get the value needed. For example Google Search, in the back so much is going on, but all we do is just type a few words in the search bar and voila, magic happens. They are constantly working to make the experience better, and their growth over the years is steady, they don’t allow “competition” to dictate what features they should release next. They have a variety of products serving different people all over the world and for me it makes them so powerful.
Who/what inspires you?
Oprah! I just love her determination and spirit to use her talents and expertise to create wealth and make a change in whatever way she can. She has built a strong brand for herself that is not marred by her being black or her marriage. She proved to me that hard work pays and created opportunities for other women who look up to her. She inspires me to be that woman who doesn’t give up and knows her worth making her invaluable. I want to be that kind of woman for girls and women in Ghana (doing that through STEMbees), Africa and the world at large. I want to be that kind of woman who is not known for what I can do because i’m a woman but because of my invaluable contributions to make the world a better place.
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At MEST, we continue to be deeply concerned about COVID-19 and have been closely monitoring developments locally and globally. Our number one priority remains the health and safety of our community and we will continue to follow local authority and health official guidelines.
Due to the ongoing nature of the pandemic and the uncertainty that the future of travel holds, we have been unable to conduct in-person interviews and host recruitment around Africa for our next cohort. For this reason, we have taken the decision to postpone the Training Program to next year.
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