Navigating the Journey from Collegiate Soccer to AI Innovation: A Story of Adaptation and Growth

In the fast-paced realm of modern business, adaptability is often heralded as a crucial trait for success. This sentiment rings true for Carl Henson, a University of South Carolina Aiken alumnus, whose journey from collegiate soccer player to Artificial Intelligence (AI) innovator exemplifies the importance of embracing change and seizing opportunities.

The Executive Exchange Series, an ICE Credit Event at the School of Business, reflected on Henson's extraordinary journey, originating from the lively city of Atlanta, on April 2. As a young athlete at USCA, Henson harbored aspirations of delving into the realm of sports marketing. Armed with a passion for marketing, he embarked on a collegiate journey marked by purpose, process, and outcome-driven encounters.

Each meeting throughout his academic career served a distinct purpose – offering insights into his evolving journey. From the educational rigors of his marketing major to the immersive experiences gained through internships and student activities, every interaction contributed to his personal and professional development. Notably, an internship in sports marketing served as a pivotal moment of realization, shedding light on his preference for engaging directly with people rather than operating behind the scenes.
Embracing the mantra of "doing as many internships as you can," Henson diversified his skill set through involvement in various campus organizations, such as social and business fraternities and student government. These experiences instilled invaluable lessons in leadership and collaboration, laying the foundation for his future endeavors.

After earning dual degrees in marketing and management, along with minors in communications and golf course management, he utilized his skills as a fresh graduate. This proactive approach proved advantageous as he secured his first job through a career fair at USCA, marking the commencement of a remarkable tenure with MAU Workforce Solutions in Augusta.

Over 26 years at MAU, Henson embarked on a trajectory characterized by continuous learning and advancement. Studying an MBA at Augusta University and joining their accelerated program fast-tracked him to progressively senior roles, ultimately becoming Vice President of Marketing and Business Development. It was then he spearheaded the expansion of sales and marketing teams across North America. 

The pursuit of knowledge reached new heights when he decided to pursue a Doctor of Business Administration at the University of Florida, where he delved into the realm of AI adoption. As the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) and Head of Innovation at MAU, he explored the transformative potential of AI, culminating in a groundbreaking dissertation on its adoption within organizations.

Looking towards the future, Henson’s entrepreneurial spirit led him to establish MarZeka Consulting, offering strategic guidance to businesses seeking growth and innovation. Notably, his expertise caught the attention of Chief Outsiders, a leading consulting firm specializing in fractional growth officers. Embracing the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the transformative power of AI, he remains at the forefront of shaping the future of business.

In a landscape increasingly shaped by AI, our protagonist emphasizes the importance of curiosity and experimentation. As technology continues to redefine industries, the integration of AI presents both opportunities and challenges. From enhancing efficiency and productivity to grappling with ethical implications, navigating this terrain requires a blend of technical acumen and human insight.

As the boundaries of AI continue to expand, Henson remains vigilant, advocating for vigilance against the proliferation of deep fakes and the preservation of authenticity in communication. With a keen eye on emerging trends and a commitment to lifelong learning, he stands as a testament to the transformative power of adaptation in an ever-evolving world.

In the pursuit of success, the journey from collegiate soccer to AI innovation serves as a poignant reminder of the limitless potential inherent in embracing change and seizing opportunities. As the Fourth Industrial Revolution unfolds, the story of Henson stands as a testament to the power of resilience, curiosity, and the relentless pursuit of growth.

For more information, contact Kate Channell -