February 16, 2024

How to become a Chief of AI

hero image for blog post

If you’re leading your company’s use of AI on top of your regular job, you might be thinking, “Could this actually be my job?”

Now, if you work at Microsoft, the answer is “probably not.” But if you’re at a small or medium-sized company, this is the perfect time to pitch your boss on making AI an official part of your job. 

Here’s my guide to doing it. Scroll on 👇. 

– Taylor

Why your company needs a chief of AI (your talk track)

AI is going to affect every department at your company. Here’s a short list of what it will impact over the next 3 years:

  1. You’ll need to build more software, faster, to keep up with your competition
  2. Your business model will need to evolve to incorporate AI 
  3. Every workflow will need to be re-assessed to incorporate AI
  4. Some work will have to be outsourced entirely to AI companies or agents
  5. Your younger workforce will become AI-native (quickly) and the rest will need to develop their comfort fast
  6. You’ll need to rebuild company culture (including incentive alignment and performance reviews) around AI usage

The bottom line: Your company needs someone who can look at your business holistically, identify the opportunities for AI, manage each department through the piloting process, and report back on progress. This person should own the mandate to take your business from status quo to full adoption within three years and work cross-functionally to make it happen.

What to say when they ask, “Can’t the CTO just do it?”

No – they’re already managing the increased software development. And HR shouldn’t do it, unless they’re the right type of person for the job – initiatives tend to die in HR.

The Chief of AI’s job responsibilities

To pitch yourself as the chief of AI, you need to know what the job is responsible for. If you don’t want to pitch it as your full-time job, you can take some of these responsibilities and pitch them as a side project.

The high-level mandate: Take your organization from “status quo” to “100 use cases for generative AI inside the business” within three years.

The day-to-day responsibilities: 

  • Evaluate the business’ AI readiness according to risk tolerance, resources, and buy-in [use our Optimize / Accelerate / Transform framework]
  • Identify the biggest opportunities for AI within the business
  • Prioritize AI projects according to potential ROI vs. level of effort
  • Greenlight pilots / prototypes and project managing their implementation
  • Establish KPIs for AI projects and tracking ROI
  • Measure and report on success, and advancing successful pilots to the next stage
  • Communicate the AI vision and roadmap across the company
  • Align departments and stakeholders on the company’s AI vision

Why you’re the right person for the job

Here’s our point of view on the right person to staff as Chief of AI. If you don’t have all of these traits, that’s okay – the most important thing is 1) that you believe strongly in AI and 2) that you have the influence to convince others to get on board.

  • Believes deeply in generative AI. This is the most important straight. You won’t succeed without a deep belief in the potential of generative AI for your business.
  • Strategic and organized. In other words, you understand the business holistically and have a deep project management / organizational streak. You have the analytical skills to spot the biggest opportunities and the PM chops to manage cross-functionally to get things done.
  • Hypothesis-driven and risk-tolerant. You know how to design a test and execute it quickly, and you won’t take forever hemming and hawing about risk. 
  • Strong communicator with relationships across the business. Your employees probably won’t want to integrate AI because it takes time and disrupts existing processes. As Chief of AI, you need to convince them – so you need to be persuasive and connected cross-functionally.

Steal our internal job description for Chief of AI

About the job

The Chief of AI will be the driving force behind the implementation of AI at [company]. They will identify opportunities to use AI within our business, partner with departments to stand up pilots and prototypes, measure and report on progress, and serve as our main evangelist for AI with internal and external stakeholders.

This is an exciting role that has the potential to transform our company. We will be looking at internal applicants before we post this job publicly.


  • Note: This position is open to all business functions and does not need a technical background
  • 5+ years of experience managing complex cross-functional projects
  • Experience with pilots and prototyping, from establishing hypotheses to designing and running tests to reporting out on results
  • Holistic understanding of the business and our goals and metrics
  • Strong relationships across functions
  • Excellent communicator with strong writing skills
  • Experience (non-technical) with generative AI and a strong belief in its ability to transform our business


  • Evaluate our business’ AI readiness and identify the highest-ROI opportunities for AI within the company
  • Prioritize AI projects according to potential ROI vs. level of effort
  • Greenlight pilots / prototypes
  • Project manage pilot implementation in partnership with department leads
  • Establish KPIs for AI projects and track ROI
  • Measure and report on success, including advancing successful pilots to the next stage
  • Communicate the AI vision and roadmap across the company
  • Align departments and stakeholders on the company’s AI vision

Greg Shove
Taylor Malmsheimer, Head of Strategy