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Profile: Kristi Flores, CMO at Tektronix

Women in Tech: “There are a lot of different roles within a tech company”

Sarah Schlothauer

Four years ago, we launched a diversity series aimed at bringing the most inspirational and powerful women in the tech scene to your attention. Today, we’d like you to meet Kristi Flores, CMO at Tektronix.

research study by The National Center for Women & Information Technology showed that “gender diversity has specific benefits in technology settings,” which could explain why tech companies have started to invest in initiatives that aim to boost the number of female applicants, recruit them in a more effective way, retain them for longer, and give them the opportunity to advance. But is it enough?

Four years ago, we launched a diversity series aimed at bringing the most inspirational and powerful women in the tech scene to your attention. Today, we’d like you to meet Kristi Flores, CMO at Tektronix.

Today’s Woman in Tech: Kristi Flores, CMO at Tektronix (a Fortive Company)

As the Chief Marketing Officer at Tektronix, Kristi Flores is passionate about leading her global team 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.

When did you become interested in technology? What first got you interested in tech?

I first became interested in technology when I was a senior in high school. My senior project was to create a video for our graduation party to showcase all of the graduating seniors – which back in 1998 that meant scanning hundreds of photos and then connecting them in a digital program and adding music. At the time, I didn’t have the equipment to do it so for months I would go to my mentor’s house and use his equipment – it required long hours and was tedious, but I loved it. It’s amazing to see how accessible this technology is now.

How did you end up in your career path? What obstacles did you have to overcome?

I double majored in Political Science and Spanish from a liberal arts school, Willamette University, in Oregon. After graduating, I wanted to get into international politics and policy but with the tough job market in 2002 and no professional job experience I couldn’t get anyone to call me back let alone get a job. Someone I met and worked with in college was a recruiter at Planar Systems and shared a job opening – I was fortunate to get that job and that was the beginning of my career in technology.

As I look back on my life, I’ve always had an entrepreneurial approach. I had about 8 different jobs growing up from paper routes to selling clothes at a flea market to working in restaurants and retail. I was always hustling to meet my goal, which was to have extra cash to pay for college, and it wasn’t until later in my career that I realized I had been an entrepreneur for years. I also have a strong creative side so mixing my creative and design acumen with business passion, it ends up being a great fit for marketing.

Did you receive support from your family and friends? Do you have a role model?

Yes, one of the reasons I’m so committed to paying it forward – through mentorships, being a board member of the Technology Association of Oregon and leading the ALLIES Employees Friends Resource Group (EFRG) at Fortive is because I have received so much generosity in my life. My first role model is my mother, she is a selfless person that dedicated her life to her family and social work. To make her proud and provide financial security for her is a strong motivation for me. My father, although unconventional in a lot of senses, is an entrepreneur to his core. He loves disrupting the status quo with new ideas and concepts and is fearless about trying new things. One of the greatest opportunities my parents gave me was the gift of living in different places – Oregon, Hawaii, Australia, and Spain. The world perspective I had at a young age gave me endless inspiration from people and cultures to architecture, different industries and food. That gave me perspective, ambition and optimism that is a big part of who I am today.

I’ve also had a lot of incredible role models as leaders – my first bosses Jennifer Davis and Rob Baumgartner took a chance on me when I had no business experience but was eager and motivated. And many other leaders at Tektronix along the way who saw more in me than I often saw in myself including Sue Dancer, Martyn Etherington, Edward Smithwick, Emily Milsovic, Tami Newcombe, Kirsten Paust, Stacey Walker and Barbara Hulit.

Did anyone ever try to stop you from learning and advancing in your professional life?

I’ve been lucky to be around incredible role models that supported my endless ideas and ambitions. I did, however, have a boss early in my career who discouraged me from getting my MBA despite the fact he had an MBA. He wouldn’t support the company offering me financial assistance to go back to school. Because I had a lot of school loans at the time, I decided to wait until I paid those off first. For whatever reason he had to not support my decision, it has motivated me to always encourage my team to continue learning and developing.

A day in Kristi’s life

I am the Chief Marketing Officer at Tektronix, a $1B test and measurement company. We create and service test instruments and software for engineers. I oversee our global marketing team that employs 75 people around the world.

Like many people, I spend a lot of my workday meeting with my colleagues – focusing on strategic planning across the company, the ways we’re deploying our strategies, check-ins with my peers in leadership, and working to stay connected in this virtual world with my own team members here and across the global team. Because we’re a global company my day can start early, so I can engage with our teams in Europe, or run late, to connect with our teams in Asia.

I’m trying to get better about finding breaks to reflect, exercise, and make time for family. When I can, I like to walk my kids to school or pick them up from the bus stop. With our hybrid approach to working from home, I’m able to find opportunities to enjoy special moments with my family which is very important to me. I am also trying to prioritize my health more – I have a Peloton that I love but I also enjoy walking our new puppy Millie who gets me outside.

I’m trying to get better about finding breaks to reflect, exercise, and make time for family.

What are you most proud of in your career?

That some of my biggest career growth and promotions happened after I had kids. I think I spent less time at work, but I was more effective – I told myself that if I couldn’t be with my kids I was going to use every minute to make them proud and do something special. Through that promise, I was more courageous, and laser-focused on making a bigger impact.

Why aren’t there more women in tech? What’s your take on that?

Although I was very curious and excited about joining high tech, I remember when I started there were very few female role models in upper management and leadership. Because of that, I wasn’t sure of the possibilities for me. If you don’t see anyone that looks like you or thinks like you – you wonder how successful you’ll be, or how much you can grow with that company. I have to say, Tami Newcome my current boss helped to break down barriers and the profile of success – I admire her for that and will be forever grateful.

Could you name a few challenges (or obstacles) women in tech face?

Sometimes it can be lonely, or women can feel like they’re not included. If the loudest voices are the same, and not like yours, you can question your contribution. When people don’t feel included or like they are making an impact they will usually leave – that is the danger when we have a lack of representation of women or other minorities for that matter in the STEM field.

Because a lot of the parenting responsibilities fall on women, the long and inflexible hours could also hamper women’s abilities to continue to grow in their careers. With the increased openness to hybrid models of remote work, it’s easier for women to balance the two. Of course, having men share equal responsibilities for parenting also makes a tremendous impact as well.

That’s why I always appreciate when my male colleagues speak up to amplify other female voices or speak openly about their parental obligations.

How would our world be different if there were more women working in STEM? What would be the (social, economic, and cultural) impact?

What I’ve found is when we have more diverse teams, the results are better. Teams that are made up of people with diverse points of view are more creative, impactful and broaden the lens that we evaluate problems through. When women are in STEM I believe the ideas and solutions we put into the world are different and can help to address some of the broader challenges women and underrepresented minorities face.

Your voice and perspective are not only important, but they could change the trajectory of technology development and the innovations of tomorrow.

The discussion about diversity is gaining momentum. How long will it take to see results from the current discussion?

I see results and change now, but like everything change takes time and with progress, we get to face new opportunities. The fact that corporations are taking accountability about diversity, and it’s being reported to boards and shareholders is an incredible advancement. The goals we need to meet for diverse leadership are far from where we are at currently, but I’m optimistic. I’m also an advocate for inclusion and have seen first-hand how important it is to be inclusive. With increased diversity there needs to be conversations about how we create and build environments where our teams can be their best selves and succeed. I’m proud of the work Tektronix parent company Fortive is doing in this space.

What advice (and tips) would you give to women who want a tech career? What should they know about this industry?

There are a lot of different roles within a tech company, not everyone is an engineer. If there’s something you like to do or that you’re good at, there’s probably a need for it within a tech company – whether you’re more creative or analytical. With any career in a male-dominated field, it’s important to find mentors and allies who believe in you and will build you up.

Your voice and perspective are not only important, but they could change the trajectory of technology development and the innovations of tomorrow. Through diverse experiences and perspectives, we will create better and drive innovation that impacts our world.

More Women in Tech:

For even more Women in Tech, click here

Author
Sarah Schlothauer

Sarah Schlothauer

All Posts by Sarah Schlothauer

Sarah Schlothauer is the editor for JAXenter.com. She received her Bachelor's degree from Monmouth University, West Long Branch, New Jersey. She currently lives in Frankfurt, Germany with her husband and cat where she enjoys reading, writing, and medieval reenactment. She is also the editor for Conditio Humana, an online magazine about ethics, AI, and technology.

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