In the AI ​​adoption journey, people play a key role. Creating the knowledge and understanding of how to use it is key for an organization to be successful in adopting this technology.

Cristina Gurguta, from the company's Group Digital Solutions AI Division, tells us in this interview how they are approaching this at Holcim.


Accelerating the adoption of AI across the organization

“In our AI adoption journey, people are key to success.  Empowering people to succeed with AI is a key factor in the accelerating AI adoption.  We wanted to create a supportive environment where employees could learn, grow, and become more comfortable with AI technologies. We realized that mentoring could be a powerful tool for achieving this.”


What is the AI & ML Accelerator?

The AI & ML Accelerator is a Group Mentoring Program that supports individuals of all proficiency levels in reskilling and upskilling in AI and ML. Focusing on foundational knowledge and specialized areas, the program prepares participants for career transitions and offers networking opportunities with experienced professionals.
AI literacy plays a crucial role in democratizing AI and data science, ensuring that a broader audience can efficiently use GenAI-powered applications. This initiative not only raises awareness about AI-related risks but also stimulates ideation around innovative AI use cases. By promoting collaboration, it helps identify and address organizational pain points through AI, fostering a networked environment where collaboration thrives.

How does the mentoring program work, and what are its key objectives?

Participants sign up to the program either as mentors or mentees, after they are matched in groups based on their AI expertise. The program pairs experienced employees who have a solid understanding of AI with those who are newer to the field or looking to enhance their skills. 
At its core, the program strives to foster a culture of continuous learning, skill enhancement, and sharing of knowledge, equipping our team with the capabilities to adapt and excel in an evolving AI landscape. Through focused change management and training, the initiative ensures a comprehensive understanding of AI's benefits and responsible usage, preparing our team to not just adapt but to lead in the AI-enhanced future.

What kind of response have you seen from the participants so far?

The response has been overwhelmingly positive. We have more than 100 participants in the program, and many have expressed how helpful it has been to have a mentor guiding them through their AI journey. The enthusiasm and engagement from both mentors and mentees have been really encouraging.

What do you think are the biggest challenges people face when trying to adopt AI, and how does the mentoring program address these challenges?

One of the biggest challenges is overcoming the initial fear or uncertainty around AI, especially for those who aren't familiar with the technology. Another notable challenge arises from the fear of job displacement, often resulting in hesitancy to embrace AI technologies. This reluctance stems from the misconception that AI will render certain job roles redundant. The mentoring program helps by providing a supportive environment where participants can ask questions, gain insights, and see real-world applications of AI in their day-to-day work.

How do you see AI impacting the future of the company and its employees?

AI stands to be a transformative force, driving efficiency, innovation, and competitive advantage for our company. For employees, it promises job enrichment, continuous learning, and career growth, provided we embrace AI with a focus on responsible and ethical use. By fostering a supportive and adaptive culture, we can collectively harness the full potential of AI and thrive in the future landscape.

What advice would you give to other organizations looking to encourage AI adoption among their teams?

My advice is to foster a culture of learning and curiosity. Go beyond the basics, embrace a growth mindset, and don't hesitate to ask for help. Seek out mentors to bridge knowledge gaps and build confidence. Highlight the practical benefits of AI so employees understand how it can enhance their work and productivity. Encourage the power of collective intelligence, where everyone contributes and leads with purpose. Remember, AI is for everyone, but it's important to know its limitations and use it efficiently. 

I'd just like to encourage everyone to keep an open mind about AI and to see it as a tool that can help us achieve great things. With the right support and mindset, the possibilities are endless.