AI closeup: Ashley Sardjoe of Novartis details how ChatGPT elevates company’s HR work

'It has significantly not only improved the speed of implementation, but the quality,' says global people head

AI closeup: Ashley Sardjoe of Novartis details how ChatGPT elevates company’s HR work

Many employees are experimenting with AI tools and finding ways to integrate it into our daily workflows, and that includes HR directors as well.

Canadian HR Reporter recently spoke with Novartis Canada’s Global People and Organization Leader, Ashley Sardjoe, about how he is using generative AI to make his life and job easier.

“I will fully acknowledge that there is always a big FOMO on my end, because I do believe that there is so much more that I could use,” he says, admitting that most of his use of ChatGPT so far has been to help him craft policies and internal communications – and it’s been mostly self-taught.

Novartis already has its own branded ChatGPT that Sardjoe says he uses for “the most mundane and most basic topics,” but offloading those basic tasks is saving him hours of time.

“When I have to write a new job description for a new role or if I have to write a communication to inform people about a change in a policy … instead of starting from scratch, I myself, or I challenge my team to, use ChatGPT to get inspired,” he says. “Sometimes, I only use two or three sentences out of the output of ChatGPT, but those two or three sentences, I believe, help me to elevate the messages or the quality of the communication.”

Balancing efficiency with ethics a challenge for AI in HR

Sardjoe encourages his team to try implementing ChatGPT but “I don’t think that they are fully onboard,” he admits – a common challenge encountered by hopeful managers bringing the new tech to their teams.

He says he’s been introducing it to his team organically, through moments that present themselves as opportunities for experimentation.

“To give you a very tangible example, we had to send out a communication with regard to some changes in our expense policy. One of the people partners in my team took that on, drafted the communication … I was not super happy because it didn't read well,” says Sardjoe.

“I just asked her, ‘Hey, look, can you do me a favour, please? Can you just go to ChatGPT, here is the link, and just ask ChatGPT to write you a communication with ABC,’ and she did it and she came back to me with an updated version that I still had some feedback on, but it was 90 percent good to go.”

The tool allows HR at Novartis to cut down on valuable time used to write the framework of policies and guidelines.

“We are in the process of updating our all our policies and guidelines, and there's new policies to be written; for example, around hybrid working or working abroad. Why start that yourself? And that's why I challenge them: ‘Go into ChatGPT, ask for the starting point, and then craft it from there.’

“It has significantly not only improved speed of implementation of things, but I will even say the quality.”

Preserving humanity in HR communication with generative AI

But Sardjoe stresses that preserving integrity of human thought and ideas is still important to him – when it comes to speaking about more “profound” topics like company culture that is meant to inspire employees, he still relies on his own words and the communications team to help him craft the message.

“That is something that I want to come from me myself,” he says.

“I want to make the distinction that there are certain things I believe you could leverage AI for in terms of writing, but there's qualifiers, where I believe you should stay away from it as much as you can, because you want to make sure that the personal touch, the human touch, comes through.”

However, using ChatGPT has been a trial-and-error process, in giving it tasks to do and then comparing that to what he would have written himself, Sardjoe says. By doing it this way, he is able to evaluate the quality of the output, he says.

“Once I saw that the quality of the output was as expected — and for a non-native English speaker like myself, sometimes even better than I could have crafted myself — it has really accelerated my personal adoption of these technologies.”

Sardjoe’s next steps into artificial intelligence use are going to involve Microsoft’s Copilot technology, he says. In the meantime, he’s happy to continue exploring ChatGPT’s uses, including at home where he says he’s used it to create personalized bedtime stories for his kids.

“I asked ChatGPT to write me a bedtime story about two kids that were born in Switzerland and in the Netherlands, and are now living in Canada and went on a very exciting adventure. I gave it a lot of input and it just spit out a bedtime story that they absolutely adored.”

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