Leveraging global talent and AI in the CPG industry – Interview with Drew Cesario


According to a report by EY, nearly all retail and CPG companies are experimenting with generative AI to improve customer engagement, enhance operational efficiency, and drive innovation–believing that AI will play a significant role.

As the global marketplace becomes increasingly competitive, companies constantly seek innovative strategies to streamline operations, enhance productivity, and stay ahead. In this context, the integration of global talent and AI can potentially change how businesses operate.

In a recent interview with RoboticsBiz, revenue growth expert Drew Cesario discussed leveraging global talent and AI for efficiency in the consumer packaged goods industry. Drew Cesario is an accomplished business consultant with experience spearheading sales and marketing teams, championing a startup towards a triumphant exit, and now implementing strategic initiatives to drive revenue growth as a Fractional Chief Revenue Officer at Eco Six Pack Rings.

With a passion for sustainable and eco-conscious CPG enterprises, his focus is helping leaders declutter strategies and elevate their businesses through adept revenue operations and intricate marketing systems. Drew’s recent projects include exploring offshoring and pioneering AI applications to boost productivity and reduce costs–focusing on how these strategies intersect with improved talent retention.

His passion for the outdoors and conservation led him to create Botanical Grp, a leader in sustainable CPG consulting offering revenue paths without compromising our planet. Here is the excerpt of the interview:

1. Can you elaborate on how combining global talent with AI technologies can revolutionize efficiency and innovation within the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry?

Drew Cesario
Drew Cesario, founder of Botanical Grp

Since the release of ChatGPT on November 30th, 2022, the AI sector has seen an explosion of interest and applications. New jobs like prompt engineer have emerged as high-paying roles where specialization and knowledge of how to get the most out of platforms, like large language models (LLMs) and image creators, have leveled the playing field.

We’re at the infancy of AI development and application, and that means investing in dedicated international talent within your organization who can independently learn how to level up your customer service, sales, R&D, and Market Research is as cost-effective as it has ever been.

CPG businesses at various stages, from early prototyping to global distribution, can lean on AI-powered tools to assist in nearly every aspect of their business.

Start small and low-stakes, such as a GPT that has access to all employee training and documentation and has its answer to HR questions. See how this little tool can answer questions and expand from there.

2. How does AI not only automate tasks but also contribute to strategic decision-making and innovation within the CPG sector, and what are the key advantages of this approach?

The internet has democratized knowledge, but we still do not know what we don’t know. That’s where conversational platforms, such as Leveraging Large Language Models (LLMs), like ChatGPT, can allow leaders and decision makers to hold up a mirror and expose opportunities for development within your organization and personally.

LLMs aren’t going to give you the exact answer for everything, nor should they be trusted to make decisions. It’ll never have the experience and context necessary to get as close to the challenge as you. By learning and leveraging prompting frameworks, leaders can unlock insights around new ideas, expose blind spots and biases, and learn the meta concepts around the challenges they face instantaneously.

3. Could you discuss the significance of embracing AI-powered tools to improve the CPG industry’s recruitment process, particularly in attracting top talent, reducing bias, and enhancing candidate experience?

When people typically think of AI-powered tools in talent recruitment, people generally think of AI-scanning resumes and cover letters. Maybe…maybe that is useful to scan through the onslaught of applicants that Indeed fires over to you, but this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Instead of using AI to sort applicants, why not use AI to prospect non-applicants, people who are heads down, happily cranking at their job because they are great at what they do?

If you’re serious about talent density, you need to be actively outbound recruiting. That takes time, planning, and resources. Sounds like a job for AI.

Many AI tools, from Apollo and Relevance.AI to Dripify, can be developed to actively scan and engage with ideal candidates based on their LinkedIn profiles, recent activities, and post announcements.

Instead of waiting for people to apply, spark a conversation directly with your ideal candidate and take an active approach.

For example, you may need to hire a Business Development Representative (BDR). You’re looking for someone with 3+ years of experience as a Sales Development Representative (SDR) who can come in with years of training and development and immediately add value.

One way you can proactively go about recruiting for this position is to leverage an AI-powered tool to create a targeted list of candidates who are:

  • Currently an SDR
  • Have been in the role for 3+ years
  • Are within similar industries and businesses as yours

Then, take that list and automate connection requests, outreach, and follow-ups to invite them to consider the open role you’ve posted. Insert your calendar link in these messages, then tweak the campaign as responses flood in. This active approach eliminates biases and elevates candidates’ quality within your pool.

To ensure you respect everyone’s time, automate communication around your hiring process and their application through these platforms.

4. What are the main benefits and challenges associated with utilizing platforms like Upwork, Toptal, and Guru to access international talent pools for CPG companies, and how do these platforms contribute to maintaining high standards while ensuring affordability?

These platforms are great proving grounds for international talent. Although there is a considerable quantity of inept talent representing themselves with inaccurate or inflated reviews, if you’re patient and develop a clear process for weeding out talent, you can find high-quality international talent for fractions of what U.S.-based workers would require.

5. In your experience, how can sustainable and eco-conscious CPG enterprises leverage global talent and AI to drive revenue and contribute positively to environmental sustainability and social responsibility?

At the heart of all businesses is a Why. For mission-driven businesses, contribution to their given causes, like 1% For the Planet (a membership Botanical is proud of being a part of), requires profits. Leveraging AI platforms and international talent to maximize the efficiency of your CPG company allows the remaining resources to be contributed to those causes.

When you build customer service bots that resolve customer service questions in fewer minutes, with higher satisfaction and greater accuracy, saving your enterprise $60-70k a year per customer service employee, that money can go directly to environmental and social impact causes.