5 Tips to AI-Proof Your Career

April 30, 2024

Baylor MBA faculty and staff weigh in on the skills their students need to succeed in a workplace where AI is everywhere.

From streaming recommendations to text prediction, artificial intelligence (AI) has impacted our daily lives in subtle ways for years. While traditional AI tools are geared toward recognizing patterns and making predictions, new Generative AI tools are capable of far more sophisticated tasks. Chatbots like Chat-GPT are trained on staggering amounts of data and can write code like an entry-level software programmer, forecast market conditions like a financial analyst and create a logo like a graphic designer.

With increased integration of Generative AI tools in the modern workforce, it is estimated that 30 percent of hours worked in the U.S. could be automated by 2030, according to a recent McKinsey study. At the same time, generative AI can increase the value added by many STEM, creative, business and legal professionals rather than putting them out of work.

Baylor’s Hankamer School of Business is equipping students to thrive in this changing environment. Below, Pedro M. Reyes, PhD, associate professor of Operations and Supply Chain Management, joins Amine Qourzal, assistant director of the Baylor University Career Center, and Laura Pahmiyer, senior career success professional, in offering students tips for becoming irreplaceable in the workplace.

1. Consider AI barriers during the application process. 

Success in today’s workplace begins with learning how to navigate a recruitment process that is changing at breakneck speed.

While companies and organizations have long used tools like Applicant Tracking Systems and Psychometric Testing to identify high-potential candidates, they are integrating even more advanced AI-based tools into their processes to boost efficiency.

“Increases in automated candidate sourcing and resume screening coupled with enhanced predictive analytics to identify quality high-potential candidates have streamlined the HR recruitment process,” Pahmiyer said. “For that reason, we encourage all job candidates to familiarize themselves with the technology that is currently being used.”

At the Baylor University Career Center, Pahmiyer and her colleagues equip students with specialized tools to adapt to this new normal. A software called JobScan, for example, mimics the AI within recruiting software to match their resume to a job posting. In an environment where recruiting software can remove a resume from the pile for something as minor as a special character or a header, these tools help students maximize their chances of connecting with a person, not just a software system.

2. Adopt the mindset of a generalist.

In his Global Supply Chain Management class, Reyes gives every student a 28-piece puzzle to complete. Each student is missing four pieces, and two of their pieces belong to someone else. Through this exercise, students learn a basic truth: All the functions of a business fit together like a puzzle. To complete the puzzle, they must have a working knowledge of each function.

“It is important to know a little bit about everything,” Reyes said.

With every passing year, AI is replacing and augmenting more tasks in operations and supply chain management. While AI is far more efficient at analyzing data, forecasting and planning than a human supply chain manager, it cannot see the full picture like a human can. It cannot factor in last-minute changes that a human has not entered into a system. It cannot understand the nuances of each person’s role within a supply chain system and manage relationships within that system. By maintaining a broad knowledge base, a generalist will be able to approach problem-solving with more agility and flexibility than any AI tool.

3. Hone your decision-making abilities. 

“AI is only as good as what you are prompting it to do,” Reyes said.

Humans have to decide to train AI on specific data and create specific prompts before AI begins to become useful. At the Hankamer School of Business, MBA students learn frameworks like the SWOT analysis and Porter’s Five Forces Framework to hone their decision-making skills.

Even as AI transforms entire industries, the customers those industries serve want to know that there is a real person at the helm, factoring their interests into every decision. For example, a surgeon might use AI-enabled imaging technology during a procedure, but her patients want her to be in full control of her instruments.

“AI can generate solutions, but final decisions are still going to come down to a person,” Reyes said. “People who can translate data into a strategic course of action make themselves irreplaceable.”

4. Complement, do not compete with AI.

Qourzal stresses the importance of learning skills that directly align with the abilities of AI rather than compete with them.

“As we move into more widespread industry use, we advise students to focus on learning skills that will complement AI technologies relevant to any industry rather than competing against them,” Qourzal said.

As AI processes mountains of data, students will need a firm grounding in data analytics in order to interpret results, communicate them to multiple stakeholders and make decisions in a wider business context. By honing their skills in strategic planning and forecasting, they will be prepared to align AI-enabled technology with broader objectives. They will also need to develop skills in ethical decision-making to provide guardrails for AI counterparts, ensuring that AI is used responsibly.

Jobs that are heavily reliant on repetitive manual tasks, from basic customer service to data entry roles, are at high risk of being replaced by the speed and precision of AI. But there are far more professionals that can co-exist with AI if they understand the unique value that they bring to the table. From manufacturing and agriculture to healthcare and education, successful professionals will use AI to automate, streamline and simplify while leaning into their own ability to solve problems in a creative, ethically grounded way.

Reyes reflects on his first job and how the skills he learned there are being transformed by AI.

“I think back to my first job as an operation manager in 1980,” Reyes said. “Over the years, new technology did not change my fundamental purpose, but it did change my job description. That is what is happening with advances in AI.”

5. Replace routine with innovation. 

Every time someone uses AI to produce a meeting transcript or automate an email, they save time that can be spent on another task. As people become more productive and efficient, they have an opportunity to become more effective in areas of their work that make an impact. These flashes of intuition that seemingly come from nowhere are what lead to transformation. Stepping outside of a system and thinking of something that does not currently exist is something a machine can never accomplish.

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At the Hankamer School of Business, students are preparing to step into jobs that AI will make unrecognizable in only a handful of years. Fortunately, they are gaining a broad-based skill set that will equip them to work in harmony with AI, leveraging new tools to accomplish more than before.

“The smartphone in your hand has more power than the Apollo missions that took us to the moon,” Reyes said. “It is difficult to know what the world of work will look like in 10 years, which is scary but exciting. These are great times.”

Are you prepared to lead in tomorrow’s workplace? Learn more about Baylor’s MBA programs by clicking here or filling out the form below to speak directly with an Enrollment Coordinator.