A smart blend of AI and human expertise

A smart blend of AI and human expertise

Glen Johnson says that although AI will transform industries, human knowhow will remain paramount in many roles—including executive search.

Yes…another AI article, but it’s my first one and I’ve been pondering this for a while.

AI in the interim executive world signifies a profound change in how professionals operate and how organizations utilize talent. For firms like Odgers Interim, which specialize in placing interim executives, AI presents both opportunities and challenges.

The terms "AI" and "machine learning" have been buzzwords for years, often representing little more than well-crafted algorithms without true learning capabilities. However, the landscape shifted with the introduction of large language models like ChatGPT to the broader public over a year ago. Coupled with advancements in silicon chips for computing, we find ourselves at what many think is an inflection point in history akin to the dawn of the internet.

Most experts predict significant workforce changes, including the reduction or elimination of certain roles, the creation of entirely new positions unimaginable just years ago, and vastly improved productivity in some functions. My colleague, Andy Wright, Partner in Odgers Interim’s Technology Practice, highlights the explosive growth of AI, particularly with generative AI tools like ChatGPT. While predictions vary, the impact on jobs is expected to be significant but not catastrophic.

Customer service and software engineering are among the fields likely to undergo substantial changes, with AI playing a key role. However, Andy emphasizes that the role of an executive search consultant, for example, remains indispensable due to the intangible skills they bring, suggesting that while AI will transform many industries, it will not entirely replace human roles.

For me, leveraging AI means utilizing tools like ChatGPT and AI extensions in MS Word to refine my ideas into coherent messages. While I may not be the best writer, I often have innovative ideas that technology can help me articulate effectively. I confess, I asked ChatGPT to help me put this piece together. But I also asked a professional writer, with a pulse, to check and finesse the results. And the piece is better as a result. 

The tools I use to source talent have also evolved, with AI augmenting contextual talent searches that we've relied on for nearly two decades. These advancements allow us to reach a broader and more targeted talent pool in significantly less time, enabling us to spend more time getting to know our talent and enhancing our selection process.

Many companies, organizations, and governments are grappling with the ethical considerations associated with this breakthrough technology. Ethics in AI is crucial, particularly concerning data privacy and algorithmic bias. All executives must navigate these complexities, ensuring that AI is used ethically and responsibly but for interim executives this can be an even greater challenge as they move from company to company. They will need to bring an opinion shaped by the insight that they have gained from their experience in multiple environments, and this knowledge of “the art of the possible” may be a huge help in getting the most out of AI and steering clear of potential downsides.

Companies and organizations are leaning heavily on their IT leadership to guide them through this emerging and rapidly changing environment. Accordingly, AI is transforming the role of CIOs and IT executives. Executives in IT leadership positions must stay abreast of AI developments to effectively leverage AI technologies, manage digital transformation initiatives, and drive innovation within their organizations.

For board members, governance will be critical. They must know how to ask the right questions and drive the right behaviors. In a recent article titled "The Director’s AI Checklist” authors Michael Chertoff and Allan Grafman emphasize the importance of involving the entire board and executive team in developing approaches to govern the use of AI effectively. “Directors must in substance and appearance retain final decision-making authority and not excessively rely on data, material or guidance that is infused with AI. Boards should get up to speed quickly and put in place governance and oversight processes that enable them to execute their responsibilities diligently and effectively.”

My colleague, Mats-Ola Bydel, who leads our board search practice, recently published an article titled “You Need Technology Expertise in the Boardroom” where he drove home the point that boards need to start pulling in tech expertise to stay ahead of AI advances and associated risks.

Overall, AI's integration into the interim executive landscape represents a significant opportunity for growth and efficiency. By embracing AI-powered tools, executives can enhance their skills, improve decision-making processes, and drive better outcomes for themselves and their clients. Interim executives who can navigate the complexities of ethics, governance, and leadership in the AI era will be well-positioned to drive success in their roles and for their organizations.

If you're interested in having a conversation about becoming an interim executive, or how interim executives can help your organization, get in touch with Glen Johnson.


No comments have yet been posted, be the first to comment by using the form below:

Add your comment

You are currently offline. Some pages or content may fail to load.