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  • Michael Chun, Senior Vice President, Insights and Analytics, US Foods

Michael Chun, Senior Vice President, Insights and Analytics, US Foods

Describe your career to date

As the Senior Vice President of Insights and Analytics at US Foods, I lead a team of 50 data scientists and machine learning (ML) engineers, driving artificial intelligence (AI) and ML initiatives across commercial, merchandising, supply chain, and finance. Our vision is to seamlessly integrate AI and ML capabilities throughout the organization, enhancing and automating decision-making processes across the enterprise. 

We are spearheading the incorporation of experimental design capabilities in both our marketing and pricing activities and pioneering the use of generative AI (genAI) to streamline our new customer onboarding process.  

Prior to my role at US Foods, I served as the Vice President of Analytics and Insights at Starbucks Coffee Company, where I led over 100 data and decision scientists to support enterprise-wide analytics and reporting needs. At Starbucks, I established the vision and strategic roadmap for AI’s role in enhancing the retail employee and customer experience. By expanding our Deep Brew AI platform, we automated store inventory management to free up time for our baristas to focus on our customers in addition to driving greater personalized product recommendations for our customers.  

My professional journey started in the US Army, where I served as a medical operations officer. Tasked with managing medical logistics and overseeing healthcare operations for tank and infantry units, I gained invaluable experience in navigating the complexities of large-scale operations. This early exposure emphasized the critical role of data and optimization in ensuring the smooth functioning of any operation, be it military or otherwise. 

How are you developing the data literacy of your organization, including the skills of your data teams and of your business stakeholders?  

We are strategically enhancing our organization’s data literacy through two pivotal initiatives. First, we are modernizing our Cloud Data Warehouse to transform the current landscape of reports into a library of certified sources, customized for role-based consumption. These reports will be constructed with standardized metrics and curated data products, overseen by joint business and IT committees to ensure governance, simplicity, and quality.  

Second, our focus is on shifting from accumulating more data to generating actionable insights. For instance, we are transitioning from an overwhelming scorecard of customer health metrics to an ML-based churn score. This move aims to prompt appropriate actions by our sellers with enough lead time for meaningful interventions.  

Our guiding principle is that fewer, yet more credible and forward-looking indicators will foster the agility necessary to capture market share. Internally, we are dedicated to strengthening our core data science capabilities and fostering deep collaboration. Our mission is not only to act as analytic translators – transforming business problems into mathematical challenges – but also to assist stakeholders in interpreting our analytic outputs. 

What role do you play in building and delivering conventional artificial intelligence solutions, including machine learning models? Are you also involved in your organization’s adoption of generative AI?  

We are leading the next generation of AI and ML innovations to cement our position as the digital leader in the foodservice sector. Whether it is optimizing warehouse operations through flexible shift scheduling or generating personalized recommendations on our ecommerce site, our collaborative efforts with the IT team are delivering on transformational digital innovations across the enterprise.  

To ensure the seamless integration of these advancements at scale, we are investing significant resources into standardizing the construction, deployment, and maintenance of our machine learning models. Our dedicated ML Engineering team is diligently working on establishing uniform infrastructure and practices to foster a cohesive and efficient development environment. One pivotal aspect of our investment lies in harnessing the capabilities of genAI. Over the past year, our team has meticulously cataloged numerous use cases for genAI, leading to several ongoing initiatives. Notably, one initiative has progressed beyond proof of concept, evolving into a deployed product order guide generation tool. This automated guide will empower our sellers and customers to discover their ideal product match from our extensive inventory of over 350,000 products, marking a significant leap in streamlining our new customer onboarding process. 

How are you preparing your organization for AI adoption and change management?  

We are preparing US Foods for AI adoption and change management by focusing our efforts on demystifying what AI is through internal webinars and executive discussions. A major component of these discussions is to break down how AI models can help augment both tactical and strategic decision making while driving out waste in our processes.  

We also highlight how everyone has a role in understanding the source of our data and improving the quality of the information captured in our business. More importantly, we are investing in our decision scientists who serve as AI ambassadors for the business stakeholders they support; they help to make sense of the data we have and identify the opportunities to leverage predictive and forward-looking capabilities we can bring. Their domain expertise is essential to helping our business learn how to make the most of our data and analytics capabilities. 

Michael Chun
has been included in:
  • 100 Brands 2023 (USA)
  • 100 Brands 2024 (USA)