Jobs of the Future

Consumer Goods Tech Jobs of the Future

Liz Dominguez
Managing Editor
Liz Dominguez profile picture
An AI-generated image depicting the future of work; Credit: Shutterstock in partnership with OpenAI
An AI-generated image depicting the future of work; Credit: Shutterstock in partnership with OpenAI

We don’t have a crystal ball, but it’s clear that workforce trends are shifting rapidly, transforming even in just the last two or three years as a result of a pandemic that forced companies to innovate with speed and agility — and with tech as the backbone. 

Trends come and go. While many IT-focused job titles are likely here to stay, such as chief digital and strategy officers, others will likely fade into the background as new roles emerge

CGT parsed through a wealth of workforce trends and leadership announcements from the last year, and spoke with a number of industry experts, to formulate a list of job titles we see emerging in the future. Some may sound familiar to roles already within your organization and some may be completely new — and maybe even a little bit out there! While we leave some room for interpretation, our talent forecast highlights key areas of opportunity for the consumer goods industry at large.

Why the Shift and Workforce Transformation?

The pandemic propelled faster adoption of digital tech, including automation and AI. Used to control costs or battle uncertainty, technology is a staple across warehouses, retail stores, call centers, and manufacturing operations to reduce workplace density and address surging inventory demand.

The pandemic and ongoing economic hurdles have also impacted general workforce trends, forcing companies to pivot with an eye toward flexibility and lifestyle-focused amenities. (Click here to jump to some of the trends influencing the types of emerging jobs and how CPG companies are staying competitive in their recruiting and retention efforts.)



1. Digital Disruption Manager

Job Description: A potential new contender, CGT believes that employees will play a more active role in predicting the future needs of their companies, as well as assessing incoming threats and opportunities for disruption from competitors. Leveraging algorithms that can analytically forecast future market and consumer shifts, the digital disruption manager will be tasked with staying abreast of any and all innovations across the field, leveraging these insights to create new products and introduce new opportunities.

Disruptions lasting a month or longer now occur every 3.7 years on average, according to McKinsey & Company, which estimates the cumulative cost to consumer goods companies equating to one-third of a year’s earnings every decade. While companies can handle short surges in demand, the firm notes, they are quite vulnerable to major shocks. 

The takeaway? It doesn’t hurt to be over-prepared.

2. VP of Decision Intelligence

Job Description: While many of today’s IT-focused leadership roles rely on data, there will likely emerge an executive who is solely responsible for augmenting data science efforts, merging it with social and environmental data sets and applying machine learning at scale. This individual will enforce clean data standards, implementing various strategies across information gathering, analytics, and dissemination to improve efforts across consumer loyalty, workplace optimization, and product innovation. 

Colgate-Palmolive is currently exploring the future of decision intelligence and what new roles will be required to support it. The company is already democratizing analytics across the enterprise by investing in supply chain analytics engineers for a dedicated analytics catalyst team, and also a coach to lead them. 

3. Chief Experiential and Digital Innovation Officer

Job Description: Our take on several existing roles, such as digital transformation officer and digital strategy officer, the chief experiential and digital innovation officer will lead comprehensive, enterprise-wide IT upgrade efforts, reducing redundancies, tearing down silos, and optimizing data efforts that touch every area of the business. They will largely focus on bringing digital experiences to life, whether it’s for the end consumers or employees.

Several consumer goods companies have leveraged similar skill sets within their own leadership structures. Levi Strauss & Co., for example, recently named Jason Gowans as its first chief digital officer in an effort to elevate the company’s digital commerce strategy. In the role, Gowans will be responsible for unifying engineering, data, artificial intelligence, and digital product management across all e-commerce and digital go-to-market efforts. Starbucks made a similar move, expanding the duties of Frank Britt, who is now EVP, chief strategy and transformation officer.

Supply Chain


4. Manufacturing Automation Manager

manufacturing automation

Job Description: The manufacturing automation manager will elevate the production line by leveraging technology that is sustainable in the long term, balancing hardware and software upgrades with improved employee workflows. By implementing tech such as robotics, automated storage and retrieval systems, and IoT sensors, this role will get companies closer to running fully automated warehouses.

Automation is already at the forefront of workforce innovation. Paul Miller, VP, principal at Forrester, tells CGT that CPG manufacturers recognize the potential of automation to make their business “cheaper, faster, and smarter.”

He refers to an “automation triangle” that advises leaders to strike a balance between physical automation, such as robots, drones and autonomous vehicles; software automation, including AI and machine learning; and the human workforce.

While some companies are doing this correctly, Miller says it can be challenging to design and implement automation that augments rather than constrains or threatens the human workforce.

Diana Wu David, a future of work consultant with workforce and career consultancy The Future Proof Lab, says it’s essential that companies assess where skills can be transitioned to ensure technology doesn’t replace job functions, but instead helps companies improve workforce planning. 

5. Director of Sustainability Analytics

sustainability analytics

Job Description: Sustainability efforts are often powered by powerful technology that can ramp up efforts while reducing energy consumption. As green initiatives accelerate as a result of government mandates and increased consumer demand, the director of sustainability analytics will take a data-focused approach to developing eco-friendly strategies.

Major consumer goods companies continue to tap into sustainability-advancing tech. Unilever, for example, has invested in palm oil traceability tech, digital twins, artificial intelligence, satellite imaging, and geolocation. And while new CEO Hein Schumacher has a track record of sustainability- and supply-chain focused leadership, it will be interesting to see if a more targeted leadership position emerges from the ongoing green evolution at the company. 

Many modern changes to supply chain infrastructure impact sustainability efforts, further emphasizing the need for leadership that is solely focused on best leveraging these benefits so there are no wasted efforts. Mars, for example, is deeply aware of the advantages of investing in digital capabilities and have found sustainability benefits from their investments even when not the original goal. 

"Some of the pieces we've built, maybe they weren't explicitly with sustainability in mind, but  they do benefit sustainability," Carol Van Den Hende, Mars' senior director of digital transformation, stated during a League of Leaders meeting last year — a CGT and RIS News membership group with digital and IT leaders from the consumer goods and retail industries. "Digital can accelerate our path to our net-zero commitments. Digital can accelerate our path to our sustainability commitments.”  

6. Chief Demand Officer

Job Description: The chief demand officer brings together several departments that have previously been siloed, integrating responsibilities related to product, sales, and marketing insights under a single role. With product demand influencing several areas of the business, this individual will analyze the impact across various functions, providing streamlined connectivity related to inventory to ensure on-self availability on the physical and digital shelf. 

We’ve taken this one directly from Impossible Foods, which created the new role early this year — and we expect this trend of cross-team integration to really take off. Impossible Foods moved its sales, marketing, insights, and product development priorities under a single umbrella. The company named Sherene Jagla to the new position.



7. SVP of Metaverse and Digital Experiences

Job Description: It can be difficult to pin down what exactly the metaverse means to the consumer goods industry, but we’re certain some variation of the metaverse is in the cards on a senior level. We see this role taking on all immersive experiences, leveraging virtual reality and augmented reality to bring consumers closer to the brand. Additionally, this individual will likely find new ways to merge the physical and virtual worlds to keep shoppers tied down to reality, making real-life purchases, while they enjoy the benefits of interactive journeys.

Wu David says the metaverse has exploded in popularity, and the industry is already reaping the benefits, such as monetization via NFTs and other virtual purchasing. 

“No excess inventory costs and increased brand awareness drive people to physical stores for in-real-life purchases,” she says. “From a consumer perspective, these purchases can also be monetized via rental or resale.”

A significant hurdle is cost. Large companies are investing in the space, but it will likely be some time before mid-tier brands join the effort. 

cheetos metaverse
Cheetos Chesterville Metaverse Experience; Credit: Frito-Lay

“Companies are experimenting with what the future might look like, and lifestyle luxury brands are leading the way because they have innovation or ad budgets and don't shy away from down spending on campaigns and experimenting with new channels,” says Sonia Schechter, retail co-chair of the VR/AR Association — an international organization that collaborates with solution providers and end users to foster VR and AR research and education.

While still a relatively untapped market, we’ve seen one iteration of metaverse in leadership, with retailer Crate & Barrel’s new senior vice president for product design, development, and metaverse. In the role, Sebastian Brauer leads the company’s vision for the future metaverse and web3. We expect this type of role to catch on at other brands, such as PepsiCo and Frito-Lay, which have already started diving into metaverse experiences.

Human Resources


8. VP of People Analytics

Job Description: The relationship between people and analytics is increasingly growing closer, and so we believe this job title is here to stay. The VP of people analytics harnesses the power of data to inform improved workforce strategies, better align on culture-focused implementations, hire with purpose and long-term viability, and overall increase loyalty retention rates. 


Kellogg’s is one example of a company that is already leveraging these skills. Petra Mudder, director of global people analytics at the Kellogg Company, is merging the worlds of data and human resources to create an employee-centric culture. 

“People and business data are tremendous assets that, when analyzed effectively, can drive our HR strategies and culture, including equity, diversity, and inclusion; retention and engagement, and manager effectiveness,” said Mudder earlier this year. “Another area where data is powerful is addressing the evolving needs of today's hybrid workforce.”

9. Director of IT Upskilling

Job Description: As we saw within the automation space, fears around being replaced by technology persist. The director of IT upskilling will be responsible for balancing IT implementation with human efforts: navigating gray areas such as generative AI and optimizing processes to focus human resources on profit-building tasks so that automation takes manual, time-consuming tasks off the table. Additionally, they will keep the workforce engaged in continued learning and training to promote from within and strengthen valuable skill sets, reducing costs related to labor churn and maintaining a powerful talent pool.

Wu David emphasizes that skills will take precedence, “with people who can use technology to augment their work winning big.” 

“Imagine outsourcing key components of your marketing job to AI to carve out time to keep track of new developments in web3 and the metaverse. Those who cannot compete in rote tasks or in the uniquely human endeavors of empathy, judgment, and physical connection should consider how they can re-skill quickly,” she adds. 

What are CPG companies offering to attract more talent?

Consumer Brands Association:

  • Work environments that convey inclusivity and a strong sense of community
  • Flexible work options and enhanced employee benefits
  • Onboarding bonuses and wage increases
  • More robust health benefits that include support and resources for fitness and mental health
  • Tuition reimbursement and upskilling opportunities to meet increased workforce demand for jobs that offer career growth and mobility

Without a reinforced labor strategy that takes employee values and needs into account, these leadership efforts will fall short. CGT spoke with Joseph Aquilina, senior director and associate general counsel at the Consumer Brands Association, to get a better understanding of how general workforce trends have changed over the years, what today’s employees are prioritizing, and how consumer goods companies are responding.

“The seismic post-pandemic shift in worker attitudes has significantly elevated the need for greater workplace flexibility,” says Aquilina. “CPG companies are now implementing innovative tactics to recruit and retain workers, such as more flexible work schedules, promotional opportunities that reward longer-term employment, among a variety of new incentives that strive to meet changing workforce preferences.”

Consumer goods companies are recognizing the importance of investing in their employees, Aquilina notes, particularly as they play an increasingly large role in keeping the business moving forward.

“A reliable workforce is an essential spoke in the wheel of our nation’s supply chain, which is already being burdened by increased post-pandemic consumer demand, ingredient shortages, extreme weather, and geopolitical events, among a variety of other challenges,” he says. “We have seen our companies go above and beyond to attract, train, and retain their workforce all while putting the employees first through robust benefits, increased wages, and flexibility.”