Striking a balance with human-led AI at Owens & Minor, 5 key takeaways from a fireside chat with Carlos Guerra

Erin Biehl
Erin Biehl
May 12 2024
3 min read
Striking a balance with human-led AI at Owens & Minor, 5 key takeaways from a fireside chat with Carlos Guerra

On May 5, 2024, during a fireside chat hosted by CLO Exchange, Carlos Guerra, SVP of HR at Owens & Minor, and Nirvano Brans, CRO of GrowthSpace, delved into the nuanced integration of artificial intelligence (AI) within human resources. The conversation highlighted the challenges and opportunities of blending AI with human-driven processes in talent management. Here are the 5 key takeaways from their discussion:

1. Embracing AI to enhance talent management

Carlos Guerra shared insights into how Owens & Minor is leveraging AI to refine talent management strategies. He emphasized the value of AI in providing rapid access to critical data, which supports more informed decision-making. “What excites me is that you have access to data faster… it’s all about speed. It’s all about finding ways to be more productive,” Carlos explained. This approach has enabled Owens & Minor to address complex challenges more efficiently, benefiting from AI’s ability to quickly analyze and interpret large data sets.

2. The Human element in AI implementation

Despite the advantages of AI, Carlos highlighted the importance of maintaining a human touch within HR processes. He stressed that AI should complement, not replace, human interactions, especially in areas like employee support and management. “It can be scary because technically at some point, maybe AI is gonna replace me… Finding the balance I think is key,” Carlos stated. This balance is crucial in ensuring that technology enhances rather than detracts from the human aspects of HR.

3. Challenges of AI integration

The transition to AI-driven processes is not without its challenges. Carlos discussed the complexities of implementing AI in a company like Owens & Minor, which operates in the highly regulated healthcare industry. He shared his experiences of needing to adapt strategies from past roles in different sectors, emphasizing that “you cannot just apply what you learn from a different company and just apply to the next one. You have to be able to learn and you have to be able to maybe flex.”

4. Practical benefits of AI in HR

Carlos provided concrete examples of how AI has transformed HR operations at Owens & Minor, particularly through their partnership with Growthapace. One significant area where AI has made an impact is in talent development and attrition management. Carlos explained how the collaboration with Growthspace allows for a more targeted approach to employee development: “Actually partnering with Growthspace has been… a game changer because I have access to data quicker and I have access to recommendations and using the technology that you guys use with AI, it just helps me to be more effective in my role.”

5. Future directions for AI in HR

Looking ahead, Carlos and Nirvano discussed the potential for AI to further transform HR practices. They talked about the ongoing need to evaluate the effectiveness of AI tools and to ensure they are aligned with the company’s strategic goals. As AI technology continues to evolve, so too will its applications in improving organizational outcomes.


The fireside chat with Carlos Guerra and Nirvano Brans offered valuable insights into the integration of AI within HR functions at Owens & Minor. As companies navigate the complexities of modern HR challenges, the thoughtful application of AI, balanced with a strong human focus, will be critical to their success. This conversation underscores the importance of technology in enhancing but not replacing the human elements that are fundamental to effective human resource management.

For a deeper dive into the conversation, watch the full video here:

Erin Biehl
Erin Biehl
Over the past 20 years, Erin Biehl has led teams in the education, hospitality, and technology sectors, excelling in customer success and as a Learning & Development manager. In her L&D role, she designed a leadership framework and developed a comprehensive L&D program for a global company from scratch. Certified as both a DISC and change management facilitator, Erin merges her professional expertise with her academic background, holding a degree in education. Beyond work, her enthusiasm for teaching shines through as a group fitness instructor, specializing in barre and dance classes. Also, a proud mom to her son and two lovable pups, Erin relishes her family life in the beautiful state of Maine

Read more

The hidden potential of older workers: A strategic advantage
5 min read

The hidden potential of older workers: A strategic advantage

More experienced workers have lived through numerous technological revolutions—from the introduction of the personal computer to the rise of the internet and now AI. Their adaptability and capacity to learn new tools and technologies have been proven time and again. They are not only capable of understanding and utilizing new technologies but also offer the wisdom to apply these tools effectively within organizational contexts.

Discover the Growthspace difference