Interview with the VP of people and culture at Coca-Cola Nico Orie

Viktor Nordmark
1 September, 2020

Nico Orie has a vast background in the HR domain. With experience from grand companies such as AkzoNobel, Philips, Deloitte, and many others, it’s safe to say that Nico is well versed when it comes to people and culture which is his main area of responsibility as VP at Coca-Cola European Partners.

We wanted to find out more about Nico’s views concerning AI in recruiting and reached out. Nico was, fortunately, more than happy to share his opinions. Here’s what he had to say:

Hubert: Hey Nico, good talking to you, and thanks for participating in this series. Let’s just jump right in, are you currently using any AI-driven tools in your recruitment process?

Nico: No, currently we are not using any AI-driven tools in our recruitment process. Of course, we do keep our eyes open and look for areas where AI can be applied into our process. But we are still in the planning stage at this moment.

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Alright, and what kind of tasks within the HR domain do you think could be simplified by using AI?

Well, we think AI could substantially transform business models and how work gets done. For the HR domain, we expect the AI transformation to happen first in areas like 1) workforce planning, 2) matching worker skill with suitable work and tasks both internally and externally, 3) Predictive Analytics to forecast for example the likelihood of success in specific roles based on profile, 4) learning, career management, succession management, internal knowledge and service management, and many other areas.

Cool, so when you look at the current expansion, where do you see AI in, say, the next 5 years?

So, when you look at it from a birds-eye perspective, the most simple definition of ‘digital’ as a concept would be bigger data, smarter solutions, and better experiences.

Digital has the potential to really transform the way companies “do HR” on a global scale.

AI is one of the core smart solutions that can, in combination with richer data sets and better employee and manager insights, really augment to better and faster decisions and provide employees and managers with better, more integrated, and personalized experiences to meet their long time needs.

Right, so how do you see the Corona pandemic play into this? Do you think it will have an impact on adoption rates?

Im pretty certain that the current Covid-situation will accelerate the willingness of companies to increase investments in the AI space and create a more open environment for change and adoption of new solutions.

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Interesting, and in what area do you see the largest potential for AI?

That would be in a combination of AI and skill-based recruiting, such as workforce planning and matching work and workers together in a way that makes sense from all perspectives. Most companies lack a good view of their future skill needs and lack mechanisms to match work with workers in a much more real-time, efficient, and engaging way inside and outside the company.

Perfect, thanks Nico! Now, in terms of concerns, what do you think are the greatest obstacles in increasing adoption of AI?

Yeah, good question. Well, the biggest challenge is, in my view, definitively human behavior. We, as humans, have been programmed over thousands of years to interact with people and not with machines. We learned to trust other people and learned that speed was more important than always being 100% accurate. Humans don’t have this connection or trust with machines yet. I believe that many people will have a hard time building this relationship of trust without losing the attitude of “machines should always be 100% accurate” because that’s not how it works with AI systems.

Most of our current technology doesn’t take many factors into account and are trusted to make sound decisions in tight niches. Just look at GPS route planning systems, people trust them to such a large degree that every year people drive into canal’s because the route planner says to turn left.

If an automated system isn’t fulfilling our assumption of always being right, then we are quick to label the entire system as not working. If AI is to be widely adopted, this is the type of attitude that really needs to change. The AIs outcome must be viewed as a source of insight that enables faster and more informed decisions. Not as a final decision that can be held as the ultimate truth.

It's therefore very important to position AI, certainly in the first waves, in the right way. As a way to augment and support, not to be the almighty mind that knows better

Awesome, thanks so much for your time Nico, this has been a pleasure! Hope to get more of these great insights from you in the future.

Any time!


And that’s it from Nico. Please share your thoughts in the comment and please sign up for our newsletter to get more insights from leading HR experts around the world.

Viktor Nordmark
1 September, 2020

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