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The most lucrative job in corporate America? Executive in Charge of AI

The most lucrative job in corporate America? Executive in Charge of AI

In September, the Mayo Clinic in Arizona created the first job of its kind in a hospital system: chief artificial intelligence officer.

Doctors at the Arizona site, which has facilities in Phoenix and Scottsdale, had experimented with AI for years. But after the release of ChatGPT in 2022 and the growing frenzy over the technology, the hospital decided it needed to do more work with AI and find someone to coordinate efforts.

So officials appointed Dr. Bhavik Patel, a radiologist who specializes in AI, to the new job. Dr. Patel has since created a new AI model that can help speed up the diagnosis of a rare heart disease by looking for data hidden in ultrasound.

“We're really trying to promote some of these data and AI capabilities in every department, every division, every work group,” said Dr. Richard Gray, chief executive of the Mayo Clinic in Arizona. The role of Chief AI Officer was created because “it helps coordinate work with depth of expertise.”

Many people have long feared that AI will eliminate jobs. But the boom in technology has led law firms, hospitals, insurance companies, government agencies and universities to create the newest role in corporate America and beyond: the senior executive in charge of AI.

Law firms such as Equifax credit bureau, manufacturer Ashley Furniture and Eversheds Sutherland have hired AI executives in the past year. In December, The New York Times named an editorial director for its AI initiative. And more than 400 federal departments and agencies sought chief AI officers last year to comply with an executive order from President Biden that created safeguards for the technology.

Overall, 122 people with the title of head or vice president of AI joined a forum on company review site Glassdoor last year, up from 19 in 2022, Glassdoor said.

AI executive jobs are appearing as organizations look to harness transformative technology, said Randy Bean, founder of consulting firm Nuvantage Partners, which advises companies on data and AI leadership. Plus, he said, “Organizations want to say, 'Yes, we have a chief AI officer,' because it makes them look good.”

Other executive jobs have been created in response to major technological and financial changes. In the 1980s, advances in computing power led to a rise in chief information officers and chief technology officers, who typically oversaw how technology was used or developed within a company. Following the 2008 financial crisis, Chief Data Officers were appointed to comply with new regulations and manage the way companies use data.

With AI executive roles, companies and organizations are looking for someone who can help them understand the risks and possibilities of the technology and how it can change the way people work.

In May, health insurer Florida Blue promoted Svetlana Bender to the new position of vice president of AI and behavioral sciences for the same purpose. One of their first AI projects was to operate an internal chatbot that could help write computer code and analyze customer data.

Dr. Bender, who was previously Florida Blue's director of technology solutions, said his team will train the chatbot on customer data and open it up for all employees to use. This month, it hired a director of AI to help with the work

“We want to move as quickly as possible to utilize the technology while ensuring that customers' insurance data is kept secure,” he said.

Accenture, a consulting firm, added a chief AI officer in September as clients became increasingly interested in the technology. The company promoted Lan Guan, who worked on global data and AI, to the role of advising clients on how to incorporate AI into their businesses. Accenture is also building AI tools, including for the insurance industry.

The new hires “underscore our ambition in the market, and how optimistic we are about the huge potential we see for our customers in AI,” Ms Guan said.

At Western University in Ontario, Mark Daly, professor of computer science and chief information officer, took up the new position of chief AI officer in October. While he still teaches, he left the role of Chief Information Officer.

Dr. Daly has since focused on establishing over 30 pilot AI projects, including working with the research and finance team to automate auditing processes and collaborating with faculty in the humanities to develop new curriculum Is included.

“We're in a moment where the best approach to generic AI is really exploration and experimentation,” he said.

Some experts said technology is changing so rapidly that it may soon overtake the roles. A Harvard Business Review article Last year, co-written by Nuvantage's Mr. Bean, it posited that chief AI and data officers were set up to fail because the jobs were “a high-pressure balancing act with a technology that poses enormous risks and opportunities.” Provides.”

LinkedIn's chief economist Carin Kimbrough said that AI will also evolve from a new technology to be included in everyone's work. “AI will have many roles and will become so entrenched that the specific AI job title will begin to disappear,” he said.

Some chief AI executives said they have staying power in their jobs. Dr. Patel, of the Mayo Clinic in Arizona, said a big part of his new job was to communicate with other doctors and regulators like the Food and Drug Administration and identify how AI could make medical work more efficient.

“There are still many shortcomings in modern health care,” he said. “This is where I think we can use artificial intelligence cleverly to bridge that gap, or at least reduce it.”

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