Chris Hagemo is living His way

August 1, 2011

“I wanted to be an architect,” Chris Hagemo (’01) recounts, “and one day my architecture teacher told me, ‘You don’t want to be an architect; they don’t make any money. You should be a chemical engineer like my son.’ Although I had no clue what chemical engineering was, I said, ‘Okay!’”

So Hagemo came to Florida College in 1999 from Anoka, Minn., with his aims set on a career in chemical engineering. After obtaining the necessary math and science courses at Florida College, he transferred to the University of South Florida and graduated in 2004.

Hagemo is now the production superintendent of the sulfuric acid department at Mosaic—a global fertilizer producer—in Riverview, Fla. He oversees a team of fifty-five people, managing everything from safety details to environmental concerns to the payroll.

He started out at Mosaic (then Cargill) as a co-op while a full-time student, and over the course of seven years held eight positions at three different chemical plants and mines across Florida.

Even though he’d considered going into management, he never imagined getting his current job. After applying and interviewing, he received a call one day from the plant manager letting him know that he was their top candidate. Hagemo’s response: “You’re kidding me, right?”

He was the youngest person to get the job by ten years—jumping two pay grade levels and over people with three times his experience.

He attributes the promotion to the company’s desire to bring in a fresh perspective, but his character and reputation no doubt played an enormous role. “You don’t move anywhere quickly unless you have solid work ethic,” Hagemo says. For him, that includes honoring and supporting your boss, treating everyone around you with respect, and bringing excellence to everything you do.

Ever since he was a 12-year-old caddy for a country club, Hagemo has held deep convictions about having a strong work ethic. His father taught him the principle of working hard, and later, his conversion to Christ made his ethic even stronger. Florida College further cultivated his moral grounding and gave him the opportunity to practice debate and impromptu speaking—skills that have served him immensely in the business world.

“A typical manager has ten people reporting to him,” he says, “and maybe two out of ten are responsible, hardworking. The vast majority put the minimum amount of effort in. They’re not thinking, ‘How do I make this department better? How do I make sure I’m delivering a value and a service to my boss and to my customers?’”

“It makes you stand out,” he says. “Just showing up for work on time, having a good attitude, doing what your boss tells you without griping and complaining. And doing it really well—that goes so far.”

The impact of Hagemo’s character makes him not only an outstanding asset to Mosaic, but a fine example of a Florida College alumnus who is living His way.