Long interested in science and reading, Kay E. Kienast grew up in a family that loved numbers. She was particularly influenced by her stepfather and stepbrothers, who were all engineers. Joining Kansas State University, she earned both a Bachelor of Business Administration and a Master of Business Administration. From there, she became one of 32 individuals to receive a scholarship for a doctorate program sponsored by the United States Department of Health, Education and Welfare, which allowed her to obtain a Doctor of Philosophy in education and business from East Texas State University, now Texas A&M University-Commerce. Dr. Kienast began her career with Dell, where she gained substantial knowledge in marketing and found her love of the data-centered and numbers-focused aspects of marketing and sales.
Following her time with Dell, Dr. Kienast worked as the commercial sector marketing general manager for product marketing, growth and performance with CDW in 2003. In 2006, she joined the Crawford Group as a principal consultant for brand strategy, messaging, demand center and product marketing, holding this role until she was appointed as the chief marketing officer for Avocent — now known as Vertiv — from 2007 to 2009. During her tenure with Avocent, Dr. Kienast was responsible for repositioning the company and was able to increase its sales pipeline by 200%, causing the shares to jump considerably.
Dr. Kienast returned to the Crawford Group from 2009 to 2010 as a principal consultant for growth strategy, channel strategy and product marketing and subsequently became the worldwide vice president of marketing for Lexmark from 2010 to 2013. From 2013 to 2015, she served as the vice president of marketing and strategy for large enterprise organization with Xerox before spending a year as the head of marketing for Seagate/EVault with Seagate Technology LLC from 2015 to 2016. In this time, she helped to turn Seagate/EVault around before it was sold. Dr. Kienast went on to work as the head of global marketing operations for GE Digital from 2016 to 2018.
In 2018, Dr. Kienast brought her expertise in growth strategy, demand generation and data analytics to True Influence as their chief marketing officer. True Influence is a marketing and sales company that sells intent data — information that gauges the level of interest in online products and services, software and technology. Global clients around the world have included companies such as Microsoft and Cisco. It was acquired by MeritB2B in 2021. Under her leadership as chief marketing officer, True Influence enjoyed 29 consecutive quarters of profitability and 32% revenue growth.
Now with iCMO, Dr. Kienast leverages her expertise to provide guidance in growth strategy, demand generation, product marketing and branding. She attributes much of her success to the work ethic she developed as one of eight children growing up on a farm. Applying this work ethic to both her education and career, she honed her leadership skills and was able to cement herself as a competent woman professional in a highly male-dominated industry. Looking toward the future, Dr. Kienast hopes to help other start-up and medium-sized companies that cannot afford a chief marketing officer grow and prosper.
Alongside her primary career responsibilities, Dr. Kienast has been involved in a variety of other professional endeavors. Since 2021, she has been a founding member of Growth Blazers and also holds membership with Chief, the customer advisory committee of Sirius Decisions, the Forbes Communication Council, Athena and CMO Coffee Talk. Furthermore, she sits on the board of directors for the Televerde Foundation. As a result of her decades of expertise, Dr. Kienast has proffered her expertise through various publications. She has had two articles appear in Forbes, “Take an ‘Always On’ Approach to Marketing and Demand Generation” in 2019 and “Reshaping B2B Marketing and Sales Through Precision Targeting and Intent-Powered Initiatives” in 2020, and one in CustomerThink, “Tips for Fostering Collaboration Between Marketing & Sales: It Starts at the Top,” in 2020.
Having accomplished much over the course of her career, Dr. Kienast is proud to have worked for such world-renowned companies as General Electric, CDW and Xerox, as well as start-up firms, which has allowed her to amass a wide range of marketing knowledge. She is also deeply grateful to the professional teams at the three companies where she was able to provide graceful and clean exit plans for her departure after getting their marketing and sales on track. For her excellence, Dr. Kienast was named one of the Top 50 MarTech Leaders Setting Innovation Ablaze by MarTech Cube in 2021.