During the 2016 presidential primaries, you’ve undoubtedly heard the name “Ben Carson” quite a bit. As it turns out, that famous neurosurgeon/politician isn’t the only one with a diverse and impressive career.
“I have had a very circuitous path,” laughs the “other” Ben Carson, looking back on the career route that would eventually make him global search engine marketing (SEM) manager of the Microsoft Store. “As an undergrad, I studied psychology and biology; I thought I wanted to be a pediatrician … I worked in rural clinics in Kenya and Tanzania, and I started a chicken farm in a leprosy colony in India.”
If you think that’s interesting, just wait. “Then I ditched all that and did music for awhile,” explains Carson. “I wrote and recorded my own music, licensing it to Red Bull, Lionsgate, the NFL and NBC.”
Some might be tempted to dust off the old mantra, “jack of all trades; master of none.” But for Carson, keeping his mind open to such random career explorations ultimately led to a passion that blends them all: paid search.
“I didn't want to go in one direction or the other, in terms of being extremely analytical or extremely creative — and for me, paid search and analytics is a blend of being creative while being a researcher as well,” explains Carson, who says with pride that he goes to work every day looking forward to the challenges that lie ahead. “Now, I don't have to turn off either side of my brain. I have to be a creative problem solver. I have to think outside the box, but I have to be really analytical and scientific in terms of my approach.”
Finding that “sweet spot” between the two extremes is Carson’s specialty — and it’s why he is uniquely qualified for his job. “What I love about this role is that I get to use different natural aptitudes,” he reasons. “Microsoft gives me the ultimate opportunity, in terms of having resources to really scratch that itch, to say, ‘Hey, I've got an idea, I think it will drive revenue, here's the data that supports it, can I go test it?’ As long as you have a sound argument that's backed by data, a lot of times the answer is yes. That's what I love about paid search and applying it in this environment.”