Rising stars: At 25, Colonial Chemical regional sales manager Carmen O’Hagan has amassed an impressive resume

Carmen O’Hagan, a 25-year-old chemical company sales manager from South Pittsburg, Tennessee, offers an interesting self-assessment.

“I really think I was brought up to be an old man,” she says.

Say again?

“I feel old, inside,” she insists.

Maybe it’s because she lived her life in a rush. O’Hagan worked on a political campaign at age 13, graduated from college at age 17, and visited every inhabited continent by age 21.

Now, at 25, O’Hagan’s resume includes stints as a reporter, photo editor, corporate recruiter, sales administrator, and most recently regional sales manager for Colonial Chemical, Inc. of eight northwestern states.

Oh, and she’s also president of the Marion County Chamber of Commerce?

If that sounds like a lot in a quarter century, then welcome to the frenetic life of Carmen O’Hagan, where sitting still just isn’t an option. “Rising star” may not be the perfect metaphor for O’Hagan; its trajectory is more like a bottle rocket.

Carmen O’Hagan

* Occupation: Northwest Territory Manager, Colonial Chemical, Inc.

* Age: 25 years old

* Hometown: South Pittsburg, Tennessee

* Interests: photography, music, hiking and travel

The daughter of a Cuban immigrant mother and a journalist-turned-lawyer father, O’Hagan says she grew up in an adult-centric environment. In her mid-teens, she went to Chattanooga State Community College to take dual-enrollment classes.

She recalls a 5:30 a.m. drive to Chattanooga with her dad, which started with coffee and the morning paper at a local Waffle House. At 16, she was answering the phone in a US congressman’s office and writing editorials for newspapers.

After earning her associate degree at Chattanooga State at age 17, she took a gap year around the world, then enrolled at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga where she majored in communications and produced a radio show.

About the gap year, she says, “I didn’t want to be 19 with my A-levels, so I took a gap year. It was awesome. I worked. I traveled. I had several different jobs. I think I went to 15 different countries during that gap year.”

She said it took her about six months after graduating with her bachelor’s degree to land a job in Chattanooga State, a position recruiting students to enroll in engineering programs. This work led her to partner with Colonial Chemical, Inc., a specialty chemical manufacturer in Marion County.

During her short time there, O’Hagan transitioned from recruiter to sales administrator in her new position as Regional Sales Manager for the Northwestern United States. Her new position requires her to divide her time between Denver and South Pittsburg, where she remains active in the Marion County Chamber and in a corporate training program.

O’Hagan says she is Marion County’s youngest House Speaker, eclipsing her brother Patrick O’Hagan’s record by a few months. Patrick, who is four years older, is Director of Regional Impact at the Kimball campus in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

O’Hagan says she was drawn to her current sales position because she believes in the products in her company’s portfolio.

“We make specialty chemicals and we focus a lot on green chemistry,” she says. “We make very valuable products. It’s easy to go to a meeting and tell someone about what we make when you have great products.”