Welcome to the Artificial Intelligence in Careers series where we are asking professionals “How are you using AI in your current career?”

Welcome to the Artificial Intelligence in Careers series where we are asking professionals “How are you using AI in your current career?”

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become a buzzword in the tech and non-tech industry and for good reason! This transformative technology has the power to revolutionize many industries, especially retail. The potential of AI technology in the retail industry is said to be limitless because it can improve upon many of the company’s current operations. Like many, retail giant Home Depot has been exploring the use of AI in their finance department to improve their operations.

In today’s series I had the pleasure of interviewing Kevin Sardja, a Senior Finance Manager at Home Depot in Atlanta and UF Gator Career Consultant. Kevin graduated from the University of Florida in 2017 with a BA in Business Administration in Marketing. Kevin and his finance team use AI on the job daily, so he had some great insight to share. Check out what he had to say.

Question: How has Artificial Intelligence changed the way you work in the industry?

Answer: My finance department deals with a variety of tasks such as forecasting sales and expenses, analyzing financial data and much more. Traditionally these tasks were done manually which required a significant amount of time and effort. However, with the help of AI we have automated many of these weekly tasks, which allows us to look at quantitative and qualitive data at a more granular level. We have employees that have been working at Home Depot for a number of years and are aware of the changing trends, and AI is a big part of that. AI can look at the data that’s available and give us access to analytics on our customer’s needs, market trends, and potential investments. Currently our financial team is using machine learning to look at where our sales volume trends, and lets us answer the question: “What are people going to buy in 3-4 months and how does that look”.
AI has really forced us to be more agile; it saves us time, and it saves us headache. We really put on our hat and said, “Hey is there a better way we can do things?” and focus on the entrepreneurial spirit of the company.

Question: Artificial Intelligence is an ever-evolving field and demands professionals stay informed. How do you prepare yourself to thrive and work in an AI enabled workforce?

Answer: One of the biggest things you can do to prepare for an AI enabled workforce is to stay flexible and become comfortable with being uncomfortable. With AI changing how we work every day, whether it’s automation or learning new coding languages, having an open mindset is key. For me personally, I’ve had to learn new technical tools/skills beyond the typical finance needs to stay up to date; things like SQL/big query, leveraging python and using AI driven weather/data forecasts to incorporate into my regular processes. I’ve learned to use these tools online but also by asking for help. It’s important to leverage key experts in your field or sphere of influence.

Question: The University of Florida is preparing students to thrive in a 21st century workforce by offering AI courses. Have you heard about the university’s initiative, what are your thoughts?

Answer: I think that it’s so cool that each student is receiving a level playing field, especially as it pertains to AI. No matter what they study AI will touch so many arms of what they do. Art, marketing, finance, it’s exciting and also a little scary that we all have this new tool to use.

Well, I certainly agree with Kevin’s shared experience. AI is becoming increasingly important in the retail industry and has the potential to improve efficiency. As AI continues to evolve, we can expect to see it utilized more and more in the future.

Maya James
Assistant Director for AI Career Pathways
Career Connections center

By Julia Vollrath
Julia Vollrath