The OCC Effect: Ousmane Conde

Ousmane Conde grew up in a family of wood crafters in one of the poorest countries in the world, Guinea in West Africa. At a young age his mother recognized his unique math and science skills. She sent him to France where he would live with a foster family and attend an engineering school. He graduated from high school in 2006, went to college and earned a degree in technology. He created a startup, CRM software for small businesses which took him to Philadelphia for a brief period. While in the United States he met with people within his network and wound up in Central New York. “I wanted to gain education in computer science to complement my technical education I received in France to benefit my growing business plan and OCC provided me with best outlet to do that.”

Once at Onondaga Community College Conde enjoyed the small class sizes and family environment. “Everyone was very welcoming. There is a strong refugee population there so it was easy for me to make friends and have fun while also expanding my education in the process.” Conde found the computer science courses provided him with a great foundation and understanding that he would carry on throughout his professional career. While at OCC, he also applied for a Google Scholarship in order to stay in America where he could obtain advanced degrees.

He graduated from OCC in 2010 and moved back to France to continue working there, but shortly thereafter he received word that he had been accepted into the Google Scholarship program. He returned to the U.S., attended Florida Memorial University, graduated Summa Cum Laude, and landed a leadership development job at Boeing where he worked for five years. During his time there he enrolled in the Master’s program at Purdue University. However, he would suspend his education and leave Boeing in order to start his own business called Xoomdat, LLC. The company is an enterprise search and financial tech platform that works in real time, so companies and individuals can make decisions in real time instead of the customary 3-4 day delay of other software search engines. Since starting as an LLC, the company has been incorporated, has 10 employees, and has been named one of the top 20 tech companies to look out for in the nation. Currently, his company builds tools for business organizations to monitor in real-time, risk related information on social media sites. His company also builds payment solutions for commercial clients, allowing them to securely accept credit card payments via mobile devices, online and via web API.

“It’s hard to believe, I visited my family in Guinea a couple months ago, and it was there that I realized and fully grasped how fortunate I was to come from one of the poorest countries in the world to be where I am today,” Conde said. He’s grateful for the foundation he built at OCC. “The computer science professors there stressed to keep your code dry (don’t repeat yourself), simple yet strong and sustainable, and these elements are part of the foundation of my company and in our daily operations.” Conde is excited for what the future brings and has incorporated educational opportunities through his company as a way to give back and pave the way for the next great idea for students who may not have the necessary access to develop their ideas.

Supporting Workforce Development

Onondaga Community College received a $220,000 grant from JPMorgan Chase. A ceremonial check was presented during a press conference June 10 in the Whitney Applied Technology Center. The funding will support the College’s Workforce Development efforts, specifically in the training of students for employment in the agribusiness and food processing industry. The College is partnering with employers, nonprofit organizations and New York State to develop the program.

This generous grant from JPMorgan Chase is part of its $1 million commitment to supporting advanced manufacturing training programs in the upstate regions of Syracuse, Albany, Buffalo and Rochester, and part of a much broader $250 million commitment to address the skills gap in communities around the world. Goals of JPMorgan Chase’s plan include:

  • Building a demand-driven system through cross-sector gatherings to encourage collaboration, share findings and formulate strategies.
  • Investing in the best training and making targeted investments to strengthen and scale the most effective workforce training programs.
  • Relying on data and sponsoring a data-driven analysis of skills demand to supply gaps in local markets.

The focus of this project on the agribusiness and food processing industry is in response to a workforce demand in a growing sector of the economy. The five-county region of Central New York (CNY) includes 3,585 farm businesses generating products with a market value of $673 million. Agricultural commodity sales in New York State (NYS) increased by 20% from 2007-2012 to over $5.4 billion annually and by 21% in CNY during the same period. NYS is a leader in agricultural production of apples (2nd in the U.S.); feed corn (2nd); sweet corn (4th); fruits, tree nuts, and berries, (6th); and vegetables for market (8th). NYS is the nation’s third largest producer of fluid milk and commodity crops and was the nation’s top yogurt producer in 2012, 2013 and 2014. In addition, there are more than 200 food processing companies in CNY, including a growing list of farm breweries and distilleries producing beer, hard cider, wine, and spirits.

In October 2014, OCC was awarded a $2.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor as part of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) program in support of this effort.

“We are thrilled to be selected by JPMorgan Chase to receive this important grant funding. Through our Workforce Development program we are committed to responding to the needs of both local employers and workers and aligning the needs of both as we work to advance the economic vitality and growth of the Central New York region. Having this support in place will make a significant impact upon our mission,” said OCC President Dr. Casey Crabill.

“All of us on the Board of Trustees are keenly aware of OCC’s critical role in the community and the opportunity we have to make Central New York a better place for all of us. We applaud JPMorgan Chase for being our partners in this effort through their very generous grant. We are very fortunate to have their support and thank them for it,” said Margaret M. “Meg” O’Connell, Chair, OCC Board of Trustees.

“At JPMorgan Chase, we believe we have a fundamental responsibility to use our resources and expertise to help the communities where we live and work. We are proud to be partnering with Onondaga Community College to provide training to folks in Syracuse that will fill important jobs within the advanced manufacturing sector,” said Mark Allen, Upstate New York Region Executive, Commercial Banking at JPMorgan Chase.

“I am grateful to community partners JPMorgan Chase and Onondaga Community College for their ongoing support of transformative solutions to impact both employers and un-and-underemployed residents in our community,” said Robert Simpson, president of CenterState CEO. “This new investment will dovetail with CenterState CEO’s Work Train initiative, which will align with and support the college’s training programs, helping to develop a manufacturing workforce pipeline in the region.”

OCC is working to ensure the programs it develops are well-aligned with employer needs by using the DACUM (Developing A CurriculUM) process. After a half-century of use, DACUM is widely accepted as the best methodology for creating competency-based and employer-driven training to build workforce capacity. Many state agencies, including the IRS, Texas Occupational Standards Committee, and national, international, and multi-billion dollar corporations, including AT&T, Boeing, Disney, Energizer and General Motors use DACUM to establish effective training programs with superior results.

Several leading employers in the Agribusiness and Food Industry sector have committed to the project including: AGRANA Fruit US, Inc., American Food & Vending, Byrne Dairy, Giovanni Foods, G&C Foods, HP Hood, Food Bank of Central New York and Tops Friendly Markets. Employer partners are committed to identifying and validating competencies, validating curriculum, promoting the program, providing content experts and instructors, identifying career pathways, hiring qualified candidates upon completion and participating in program assessment.

Non-profit partners include CenterState CEO, a 2000-member, business leadership organization; Work Train, a collaborative led by CenterState to link low-income individuals with job-training; the Workforce Development Institute; the Southwest Community Center; Catholic Charities; Syracuse Educational Opportunity Center; the Manufacturer’s Association of Central New York and the Onondaga Farm Bureau. The public workforce investment system is represented by CNY Works and JOBSplus!

Partners in the agribusiness program include SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry, SUNY Morrisville and Cornell University.FEATURE JPMorgan Chase check presentation