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Navigating the AI talent landscape with Allurion and Rokt

Learn how Allurion Technologies and Rokt are mastering the AI talent challenge, via interviews with their top talent managers.

Keith MacKenzie
Keith MacKenzie

Passionate about human resources, employment, and business management, and an expert at sharing that expertise.

The rapid advancement of AI technology has brought about significant changes in talent acquisition and management. We reached out to two of our customers to understand this better.

Claire Vernié, Talent Acquisition Operations Project Manager at weight-loss company Allurion Technologies, and Sarah Wilson, Chief People Officer at the ecommerce tech firm Rokt, shared their experiences and strategies with us on how they’re navigating this rapidly evolving landscape especially in how the talent market is impacted.

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Here, we share the questions that we asked them, and their responses.

1. The overview

Q: Can you provide a brief overview of your company’s journey, especially in terms of hiring AI talent, and share a pivotal lesson you’ve learned?

In her response, Claire emphasized the importance of cultural fit and diverse skill sets alongside technical expertise.

She also describes an enthusiastic and strategic embracement of AI tech – including developing the Coach Iris weight-loss app, its own in-house AI tool.

It’s not just tech though.

“We’ve recognized that … cultural fit is also pivotal in building a cohesive team by fostering a collaborative environment that celebrates diverse skill sets as well as encourages continuous learning and innovation,” says Claire.

Naturally, this all leads to an increased need for top AI talent

This, Claire tells us, “emphasized the necessity for competitive packages to ensure we attract and retain the best talent.”

Allurion, says Claire, has bigger plans ahead including new product development, which will only emphasize the crucial balance between tech, culture, and compensation in the AI landscape.

Meanwhile, Sarah says the rise of AI has opened up what she describes as a “great problem to have”.

“We have had a machine learning (ML) team for many years and so the rise of AI in popularity has created both challenges and opportunities for us,” says Sarah.

“There are now more people training in this space (increasing the candidate pool) but by equal or greater measure, there are more opportunities for these individuals to choose from.”

Related: The workplace of the future: How AI is evolving the working world

2. What’s evolved in hiring AI talent

Q: How have your challenges and strategies in hiring specialized AI professionals evolved throughout 2023, and what’s in store for 2024?

While Sarah pointed to an already-existing machine language team at Rokt, Claire noted that Allurion hired its first machine language engineer in 2023 – with the focus on cutting-edge projects.

And in 2024, Allurion’s talent team will strengthen its relationship with existing AI communities.

“This is key to establish a robust pipeline for skilled professionals,” Claire says, highlighting the importance of aligning hiring strategy with a commitment to embracing AI tech.

Meanwhile, Sarah says the shifting tech market has opened up access to talent that Rokt didn’t have access to previously.

“We have found that we are hiring more internationally than we have previously as well. We expect these trends to continue.”

3. The balance between AI upskilling and hiring

Q: When looking at your AI team’s capabilities, how do you balance between upskilling existing employees and hiring new talent, and what criteria guide your decisions?

Sarah described a prioritization of hiring highly educated professionals, while also empowering their staff with individual professional development budgets.

“We put the power to develop these skills into the hands of our people,” Sarah says.

“That said, we typically hire PhD level people into these roles – and so our current priority is in hiring into the group versus leveling up the people we have.”

Claire looks to strike a balance between the two.

“Upskilling will foster loyalty and internal expertise with our current employees, while new hires bring in diverse perspectives to our organization,” she says, adding that decisions are made after assessing current skills gaps, project needs, and long-term goals.

4. Identifying and attracting AI talent

Q: Where can you find AI talent, how do you attract them, and what soft skills are crucial for them to succeed?

Claire highlighted a multifaceted approach.

“We tap into online communities, conferences, specialized platforms, and strategically explore colleges renowned for top-tier AI programs. By spanning out regionally and pinpointing locations rich in talent, we are casting a wide net.”

She adds that a focus on tackling “interesting and meaningful problems” through innovation and an emphasis on growth opportunities, collaboration, and teamwork are key, as are the overall company mission and benefits.

As for soft skills: “We value adaptability, effective communication, and a passion for innovation.”

Similarly, Sarah also points to alignment with core values as a key measuring stick of new talent.

“We have found in particular that Smart with Humility, Conquer New Frontiers, and Communicate with Impact correlate closely to success in this part of our business.”

5. Finding and filling gaps without in-house AI experience

Q: How do you evaluate candidates for a brand-new AI role when you don’t have that experienced leader who knows what to look for in terms of talent?

First, when engaging with candidates, Claire looks at skills and abilities, a track record, and a drive to stay updated in the evolving AI landscape.

And then there’s the team approach.

“We also adopt a team-oriented strategy to collectively break down the responsibilities associated with the new AI role. This collaborative effort involves researching, accessing training resources in our network or through platforms like LinkedIn Learning,” Claire says.

“We proactively gather insights from various channels, including reviewing other job postings, articles, and engaging in discussions during the recruitment process.”

Claire notes how this helps in collectively establishing knowledge and understanding for new AI roles in the absence of an experienced leader.

AI grows as a mainstay in work

The insights from Sarah and Claire show an increased emphasis on AI knowledge and capabilities – and they’ve evolved their hiring and employment strategies at their respective companies in response.

As is the case for any new developments in the workplace, an agile and proactive mindset is crucial to stay ahead of the curve – and we’re seeing this at Allurion Technologies and Rokt, among many others.

If you’d like to share your own insights or story on how you’ve navigated the sudden entry of AI into your company, send us a note and let’s talk!

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New report: AI in hiring and the workplace

Nearly a thousand hiring managers in the US and UK shared how they're using AI in hiring and in work. We now have a survey report with the findings.

Download your report now!

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