From free Stanford courses at Northrop Grumman to revamped internships at Salesforce, here’s how 9 companies are competing on A.I. talent

Fortune @ Work A.I. Illustration
The race for top A.I. talent is on.

OpenAI’s November release of its ChatGPT platform catapulted artificial intelligence, and more specifically generative A.I., into the global consciousness. Seemingly overnight, A.I. went from a sci-fi plot device to a workplace hot topic. 

The list of CEOs weighing in on the technology grows longer by the day. Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said A.I. would hit skeptics “like an asteroid” if they buried their heads in the sand about its permanence and exponential growth. IBM CEO Arvind Krishna estimated it would assume between 30% to 50% of “repetitive back-office tasks.” And in his annual letter to shareholders, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon deemed it “critical to our company’s future.” Though leaders differ on how A.I. will transform the workplace, they agree that it will. And they’re preparing for a technology that could upend current professional norms by ramping up talent well-versed in A.I. and reskilling current talent to ensure they’re well-equipped for the future, as Fortune noted in last quarter’s playbook.

For this quarter’s edition of Fortune @ Work, nine human resources executives discussed how they’re stocking their talent pool with experts in newly minted A.I. tools.

Given that our collective understanding of the technology and its applications is still quite limited in scope, the most common refrain from executives who spoke to Fortune is an emphasis on preparation.

The A.I. talent race is on.

We asked nine executives how they plan to upskill employees in A.I. and attract new talent amid head-to-head competition. Here’s what they told us:

This article has been edited for length and clarity.

Lisa Chang, global chief people officer, the Coca‑Cola Co.
Courtesy of Coca-Cola

The Coca-Cola Co.

Lisa Chang, global chief people officer

How do you plan to upskill employees and secure talent for the future of A.I.?

Recently, we launched an enterprise version of Coca-Cola ChatGPT and an HR knowledge hub to enable our people to use A.I. in their day-to-day work. We also launched a “Leveraging A.I.” series on our internal social network with courses to help associates learn how to use these tools.

We’re using A.I. in our marketing function to engage with consumers in new and exciting ways. A.I. amplifies our ability to rapidly create and iterate on hyper-personalized content and messaging and reimagine how we produce creative content.

A.I. is powerful, but it’s not perfect. It is an enhancer of human capability but does not replace our need for people, their knowledge, and talents. 

Nathalie Scardino, global head of recruiting, onboarding, and employee learning, Salesforce
Courtesy of Salesforce


Nathalie Scardino, global head of recruiting, onboarding, and employee learning

How do you plan to upskill employees and secure talent for the future of A.I.?

A.I. skills were cited as some of the most in demand, according to recent Salesforce research, but only one in 10 workers said they have those skills. That means we have to reimagine how we train and develop every part of our organization, starting with the next generation of our workforce: interns. This year, our Futureforce summer intern program will infuse A.I. throughout, giving students the opportunity to work on real A.I. solutions. The goal is to jump-start A.I. learning with this group as we continue transforming talent development across the organization.

Maxwell Wessel, chief learning officer, SAP
Courtesy of SAP


Maxwell Wessel, chief learning officer

How do you plan to upskill employees and secure talent for the future of A.I.?

As A.I. becomes more integrated into workday tasks, professionals must understand the foundations of coding. When citizen developers can tackle ever more complex things, deeply technical computer and data scientists are freed up to focus more on issues that require an in-depth understanding of how the systems work.

It’s critical to provide training and development courses focused on citizen developers and low-code, no-code skill sets, as well as those geared for highly technical roles. Citizen developers may not need to code as much but will require product management, design, and user research capabilities to get the most out of their new tools. Meanwhile, tech pros will shift into more strategic thinking and evolve into emerging roles such as machine learning engineers and A.I. analysts. Organizations must provide learning opportunities to support both the basic and emerging areas of technology in order to feed increased innovation.

Matthew Owenby, chief human resources officer, Aflac
Courtesy of Aflac


Matthew Owenby, chief human resources officer

How do you plan to upskill employees and secure talent for the future of A.I.?

From a talent recruitment perspective, we are taking a wait-and-see approach to A.I. and talent impacts. At Aflac, we utilize A.I. for many of our repetitive processes and programs, which creates bandwidth for our “human” resources. My view is that A.I. will be disruptive at the “edges” of a talent portfolio, meaning roles that can be partially or fully automated with low variation in input and outcome, basic programming activities, and at the higher end of the skills portfolio in data analytics or predictive modeling positions. But we are, at our core, an industry that interacts with people often during their most difficult times, so while technology will help us accelerate our processes and procedures, nothing will ever replace a human touch.

Peter Fasolo, chief human resources officer, Johnson & Johnson
Courtesy of Johnson & Johnson

Johnson & Johnson

Peter Fasolo, chief human resources officer

How do you plan to upskill employees and secure talent for the future of A.I.?

Our two-pronged approach to leading with data science focuses on upskilling J&J employees as an enterprise-wide priority and actively recruiting A.I. talent to accelerate innovation. Our priority is to build an ecosystem of digital innovators who unleash the promise of A.I. by developing effective health care solutions. For example, in Janssen research and development, our pharmaceutical R&D arm, data science is embedded as a core competency and fundamentally shapes how we innovate across our pipeline. We’ve established a talented pharmaceutical R&D team skilled in data and medical science in just a few years. Investments in our digital talent pipeline have shifted from discussing the potential of data science to the actionable impact of accelerating the development of transformative medicines that could deliver profound patient impact.

Lisa Britt, chief human resources officer, Thermo Fisher Scientific
Courtesy of Thermo Fisher Scientific

Thermo Fisher Scientific

Lisa Britt, chief human resources officer

How do you plan to upskill employees and secure talent for the future of A.I.?

We believe there are endless opportunities to use generative A.I. to help us further innovate and create the capacity for our colleagues to focus on work with the greatest impact. From a talent perspective, colleagues will learn to leverage this new technology while protecting our confidential information and intellectual property. Specifically, the emerging skills required are skilled prompt creation balanced with expertise to validate and refine outcome accuracy. We already have an internal team focused on upskilling our colleagues on generative A.I. and the associated risks. We also broadly offer introductory courses on A.I., machine learning, and natural language processing. 

Ashley Goldsmith, chief people officer, Workday
Courtesy of Workday


Ashley Goldsmith, chief people officer

How do you plan to upskill employees and secure talent for the future of A.I.?

We’re always looking at what skills exist within our workforce and where we might have gaps. With this information, we know where to focus our upskilling efforts and how to connect employees to opportunities such as key projects, gigs, or even new roles. For example, we’re using an internal platform—an open, interconnected skills intelligence foundation with embedded A.I. and machine learning—to help employees see what opportunities are open to them or where they need to develop new skills to get into their next role within Workday and grow their career. At the same time, this gives our Workday leaders more real-time insight into our global workforce capabilities and helps ensure we have critical skills, including A.I. and machine learning, to remain at the forefront of this rapid talent shift.

Ann Addison, chief human resources officer, Northrop Grumman
Courtesy of Ann Addison

Northrop Grumman

Ann Addison, chief human resources officer

How do you plan to upskill employees and secure talent for the future of A.I.?

Continual upskilling—from the manufacturing floor to leadership—is a top priority. We’re bringing the most up-to-date learnings to our workforce through partnerships with universities and tech thought leaders. For example, we recently offered employees a graduate-level Stanford University A.I. professional program. We also broadened our advanced technology offerings through our internal learning portal and invested in learning pathways to help develop up-and-coming A.I. leaders. Northrop Grumman currently partners with over 100 universities, colleges, and grade schools to promote skill development in the most high-demand areas of national security, including sensors, hypersonics, quantum computing, cyber, and A.I. 

Amy Best, chief human resources officer, Exelon
Courtesy of Exelon


Amy Best, chief human resources officer

How do you plan to upskill employees and secure talent for the future of A.I.?

You may think of us as an infrastructure company, but Exelon is also a technology company. Delivering energy to millions of homes requires complex systems and people with the expertise to operate them effectively. We need to be adept at all forms of technology, and we are working to understand the opportunities for A.I., from predictive maintenance to customer data analytics. The capacity to stay ahead of advancing technology is already a focus of our recruiting. We also have a formal innovation program to encourage employees to think creatively and challenge current approaches. Nurturing this culture will be important as A.I. becomes more commonplace. We’re also focusing on groups that have been underrepresented in technology fields and building a pipeline from the communities we serve to better prepare for future challenges.

This article is part of Fortune @ Work: Generative A.I.