Executive Interview: Chris Witt, VP and GM of Portfolio Solutions, Tektronix
1. Tektronix is celebrating their 75th year with a great history in spinning off many successful companies and being the origin of high-tech in Oregon, what special activities or plans do you have to commemorate your diamond anniversary?
I’m proud to be a part of Tektronix as we celebrate this milestone 75th anniversary. From the early days of electronics, our inventions and products have played key roles in technological advancement, spurring innovation and acceleration throughout the world. Our test and measurement equipment has been used everywhere from NASA’s first space shuttle to the smartphones we use each day. We’re excited to highlight the people and products throughout this year and while in-person parties may be out of the question, we are looking forward to finding some creative ways to connect with our long-time customers and community supporters around the world in honor of 75 years together.
2. What are some key strategies for Tektronix in the last couple of years?
Our hardware test capabilities have been a strong suit for us since our inception. In recent years we have been expanding to software and cloud services, which have really been a hit with our customers. It’s an exciting time for wireless communications as we expand into 5G and 6G solutions. Tektronix continues to be a key contributor with solutions for high speed wired communications from the data center out to edge connected devices. We will continue to follow our internal growth accelerator model to innovate new ideas internally, retire products in a timely fashion and free up resources to continue to supply our customers with the support they need to test and measure for their next break-through work.
3. What are the highest growth markets for Tektronix in the next few years?
We expect to see further explosion of the mobile market, with video and social networks driving changes throughout the communication infrastructure expanding demand for greater speed and data capacity. Tektronix plays a big role in this expansion, from the core of data networks all the way to the edge with mobile. Major players within the semiconductor development industry have been driving these breakthrough technologies, with advances in speed particularly accelerating design and product development for both data centers and products, and it’s super exciting to be providing them the tools they need for this work.
With this expansion of connected devices and our communication infrastructure comes a major focus in the power industry around developing more technologically advanced batteries which can handle these new system demands. Our mobile devices are going to demand more advanced power management systems, which will require support from Tek’s solutions in the development of longer lasting, more reliable and efficient batteries that don’t just power our tech needs, but use less energy overtime to protect our planet.
4. Tektronix moved into its campus in Beaverton in 1959 and is Oregon’s first high technology company that was instrumental in the creation of the “Silicon Forest” — what type of community engagement is Tektronix involved in today?
As part of Fortive, and as a global organization ourselves, Tektronix is engaged with Fortive’s Day of Caring and several other global events each year that contribute significant funds to charities ranging from the Red Cross and local food banks to organizations supporting women in technology and social justice. Last year, our Tektronix Day of Caring activities went virtual, and we held a global activity challenge, encouraging employees to get out and walk, run and bike, donating money to three global charities for each employee mile logged. It always feels good to see our community work grow beyond our initial hometowns to represent our global footprint.
A highlight of my time at Tektronix here in Oregon has been our company’s engagement with the local Pacific Northwest chapter of Girls Inc. From building new furniture for their office to hosting a group of young learners at the Tektronix campus, it’s so rewarding to support a local nonprofit organization that is doing some incredible work to inspire and empower the next generation to become involved in technology.
5. Tektronix is a committed partner with universities around the world, how are you engaging and enabling university students in engineering activities?
Education has always been a priority for Tektronix. We are in constant contact with the world’s top university engineering labs and their faculty to get a sense of their needs and how we can make their curriculum most aligned with the demands of the marketplace. We’re dedicated to fostering learning on industry-leading technology. Tektronix tools can be found in every one of the top 25 engineering and technology universities from the classroom to the lab.
Our oscilloscopes are also agile for educational use, allowing instructors to turn off automatic settings so students can learn to use scopes manually, gaining those fundamental skills. I’m always impressed with my colleagues’ deep commitment to helping students explore the world of electronics before they enter the professional work environment. Whether it’s a school’s racing team testing their electric car with our equipment or a researcher working on next-gen wireless communications, we at Tek love seeing our products helping people make a difference wherever they are on their educational journey.
6. What are some of the ways that Tektronix is attracting new talent to the company and industry?
First and foremost, we believe that we have amazing products and cutting edge technology, foster a great company culture and provide an environment where people can grow and thrive, at Tek, our sister operating companies, and at Fortive, our parent company. We really are a 75-year-old start-up, constantly striving to innovate. On the early career front, Tektronix offers an extensive internship program to college students. We’re continuing to grow our relationships with universities and other talent pools to attract diverse engineers into our workforce. Our Tektronix portfolio of entry products continues to be some of the first pieces of technology that engineers use early on in their careers. We’re proud to play a role very early on in an inventor’s journey with our products.
As one of few billion-dollar technology companies with a female president and a company that has celebrated women engineers since our early days, we’re increasing our effort to invest in women in technology and provide role models so women and students of color can see themselves in the leadership ranks of the tech world. We are also building deeper relationships with organizations that will allow us to broaden our recruiting reach across the globe.
7. You have developed strong diversity and inclusion programs in the company, why has this been a key strategy and what types of programs are you operating?
First and foremost, we want all our employees to feel comfortable and confident so they can bring their best to work each day, whether they are working from home or in the office. As a global organization, we don’t just need strong cross-cultural connections to run our organization, we need strong character and trust to be positive parts of our communities.
That’s why we have expanded our employee resource groups to foster more allyship across the organization and give underrepresented groups better support internally. Our Black Excellence Matters group, for example, has helped amplify the voices of our Black engineers across the company and helped us expand our commitment to promote technology access at HBCUs and Hispanic-serving institutions to introduce more students to the world of engineering. Tek’s Women in Technology group fosters an inclusive environment for women with their on-campus and virtual events. It’s important to me that our full customer base is reflected in our employees, because diversity makes our organization stronger for the future.
8. Tektronix recently was the first to market with a native oscilloscope-to-cloud software solution, how has that been received and what future developments might come from this platform?
TekScope and TekDrive, our TekCloud products have received a great reception from our customers. Professional engineers have been demanding these solutions and to be the first to market with a direct oscilloscope-to-cloud software solution was a real highlight for us last year. TekScope is great for remote work and has been rapidly adopted by engineers, well-timed for the situation we all found ourselves in in 2020. TekDrive, our data collaboration software, facilitates workflow between engineers by offering cloud-based collaboration on real-time data from oscilloscopes. These new products received some of the highest scores and reviews ever from our customers. We’re excited to continue building upon these technologies in the future with more software solutions we know our customers demand.
9. What other products or platforms do you see potential for high growth?
As the industry has seen with our recent launch of the 6 Series MSO, Tektronix will continue to invest in leading measurement platforms. We’re continuing to drive innovation, which you’ll see both this year and in the future to address demand for innovations in power (efficiency and duration).
10. What technologies in our industry are you most excited about in 2021?
I continue to be interested in what’s happening both in the data center and with mobile devices. Tektronix is playing an increased role in wireless communication as 5G progresses to its next stage of development. Tek’s solutions can cut the test time of these measurements now that they have moved to wide band technologies in multi-channels. In addition, I’m also excited about the future of power, from battery technology to devices. It’s been a bigger part of Tek’s solution space and I expect that it will continue to expand as we enter 2021 and beyond.