MarTech Interview with Kristi Flores, VP of Global Marketing at Tektronix

With customers expecting more transparency and accountability from the brands they deal with, it is integral for marketers to strengthen a few of their core operational and outreach processes using better data collection practices, Kristi Flores, VP of Global Marketing at Tektronix shares a few thoughts:


Welcome to this MarTech Series chat, Kristi. Tell us more about your years at Tektronix and how you’ve evolved in your various roles…

I started at Tektronix thirteen years ago. After college I worked for another technology company, Planar Systems, for 5 years. Planar was a great place to start my career but it was small and the marketing function was decentralized across the business. As an early-career marketer, I knew I wouldn’t grow at the pace I wanted to by working alone without great mentors. That’s why I came to Tektronix – to work in a larger, global organization that had an incredible marketing team I could learn and grow from. I’m happy to say, after thirteen years I got even more than I expected.

During my tenure at Tek, I started as a marketing communications manager and eventually grew to lead most of the teams within the department – from digital and regional marketing to global communications. I even spent 1 year working with our parent company Fortive to build and grow our new approach to innovation management. In August 2020 I was promoted to Chief Marketing Officer. I dreamed of becoming the CMO when I started 13 years ago – to realize that dream was exciting and a little surreal.

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What would you share with marketing executives who are climbing up the ladder today, i.e. a few marketing success best practices from the point of shaping careers, growing quick and fast?

I have a few thoughts on this. First, build your skillset beyond marketing. CEOs and companies need the C-suite to have an enterprise mindset that, of course, understands the function they lead but can also help contribute to the larger initiatives of the company. That means understanding how the business works across functions and leaning in to progress the company strategy and larger initiatives. One way to do this earlier in your career is to be open to job rotations outside of marketing to build your skillset. Taking advantage of development programs or stretch assignments that give you access or work outside of your core function is another option.

Second, don’t ask for permission. As a hardworking, eager to please employee early in my career I often had great ideas that I didn’t share or didn’t act upon because I wasn’t sure if that was my role. Do what’s right for the business, lean-in and be bold, often times it’s just what the team and the company needs.

Lastly, be curious. Ask a lot of questions and listen more than you talk. The best leaders I know have stayed curious and understand that the best ideas often come from the people they manage. They don’t tell their teams how to do the work – they set the strategy and then clear the path for their people to be creative and collaborative. Extraordinary things happen when we trust and empower our team members.

For brands that have a range of services and products, what are some common challenges you notice in this regard?

Although it’s easy to start with business needs and goals, we like to center our approach on our customers. We start by evaluating our customer’s needs: what are they trying to accomplish and what are their biggest barriers to success. Doing this keeps us grounded and deeply connected to the customer experience allowing us to deliver relevant messages and solutions. In companies with multiple markets and audiences, it orders to be more relevant and effective, we focus on solutions across products, services, or software as it pertains to the customer applications and their use cases.

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Tell us more about your marketing strategies at Tektronix and of course, more about the martech that helps drive it?

In my career, I’ve seen marketing organizations become critical engines of demand generation and awareness for the business – and they will continue to be. However, what we believe our customers need now more than ever are partners and brands who they believe in, trust and who can help them grow and develop. For our customers in particular, engineers and lab technicians, they need to keep up with the latest test and engineering standards and are under pressure to do more with less. Instead of telling them about our Brand we’re adapting to make sure we are helping to add value – that means we focus on educating and inspiring engineers globally. Last year, we had a global 2-day conference that was focused on inspiring and educating engineers, we even had wellness activities. Instead of just talking about our products we’re creating a relationship that starts with helping our most valuable asset, our customers. So, although generating demand is important, finding ways to create trust and add value is more important than ever.

The other focus, which has only accelerated with COVID-19, is our focus on digitizing our business. As a 75-year-old company, a lot of our approach has been human to human and although we’ve been focusing on digital for over a two decades, there is work to do to make sure we’re not just easy to do business with digitally but it’s also a delightful user experience. More of our customers want to self-serve – get information and details online when it’s convenient – we’re working to create an experience that enables that. It aligns with how we’ve done business and what we’re known for – caring for our customers.

As a marketing leader, how do you see the future of B2B marketing and how is martech shaping up to create more change in the industry?

The lines between B2B and B2C marketing are getting smaller and smaller. Customers expect transparency and accountability from brands as well as an easy experience.

How that impacts us is our technology across the business, not just in marketing, needs to be better connected across platforms to ensure we’re creating a holistic view of customer needs to better serve them. Customers want information fast and easy – from the start to the end of their experience. Because of that, I expect more consolidation of tools through acquisitions in the industry to realize the connectedness of the data.

Another trend I see is how consumers are holding brands accountable for how we use and save their data. Our approach is to be transparent with how we’re using the data so our customers feel comfortable and informed.

Some last thoughts and marketing/martech takeaways before we wrap up?

To keep up with the fast-changing needs of customers and our business, we are building a culture around rapid experimentation. We have found that when we’re open to experimentation across the organization the quality and quantity of ideas goes up and the end result is a better experience for our customers that also modernizes our approach in the business. This plays into the martech stack as well, before we invest in large scale new tools we need to understand how we might test the capabilities of that tool to see how our customers like it and it’s impact on our business.

We’ve also very focused on making sure we have the right team and processes set up before we invest in a tool. Often times, we get lured into the new functionality and underestimate the time and team needed to fully implement a tool. We need to ensure our team has the understanding and new processes necessary to realize the full capabilities. That means estimating the full time and effort to implement from back-end resources to training and upskilling our teams.

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Tektronix designs and manufactures test and measurement solutions to break through the walls of complexity and accelerate global innovation.

As the Chief Marketing Officer at Tektronix, Kristi Flores is passionate about leading her globalteam of marketers. She excels at helping her team develop and hone their skills through the Fortive Business System (FBS), a powerful set of tools and methods developed by Tek’s parent company, Fortive, to help drive growth, innovation, and continuous improvement. In addition to heading up the global marketing team, Kristi leads the ALLIES Across Fortive, an employee and friends resource group that promotes allyship and elevates inclusion and diversity across Fortive companies. Kristi serves on the board of directors of the Technology Association of Oregon.

Kristi was born in Oregon and earned her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Government from Willamette University before starting her 18-year career in high tech. Prior to her 13-year career at Tektronix, Kristi spent five years at Planar systems working in sales and product marketing.

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