How I got where I am today: Managing director

What did you want to be when you were young?
Like many young boys I changed my mind a lot – but I’ve always been ambitious so astronaut and doctor were all in there of course, along with fighter pilot. The truth is that I didn’t figure out any enjoyment in any role until I was much older, when I was able to appreciate the true sense of job satisfaction.
What are the main career stepping stones you have taken?
I’ve never been the type of person to wait until I was told I was ready to take the next step. Having been given an opportunity to work as a trainee wellhead engineer many years ago, I pushed forward career wise and with an enthusiasm and ambition to deliver something new or better. I progressed very quickly during my time at Technip, and having seen the opportunity to grow my own business, I jumped at the chance with the backing from my family.

Chris Tierney

I’m really proud to have started SETS – I’ve had the chance to employ some of the best people in the industry and to do something truly different. SETS offers a complete consultancy and project development packaging from field development to decommissioning – with experienced and knowledgeable personnel, utilising state-of-the-art processes, which I believe is essential to today’s oil and gas business.

Anything you would do differently?
Probably lots, but not in an entirely remorseful way. My only regret would be to say that I hadn't given something a try. I believe it is better to learn from something which just simply didn’t work out.
Are you scared of making mistakes?
Definitely not. Making the same mistake twice however is a different matter. I do submit to the thought process of discussing decisions with the team around me, however that doesn’t always lead to a democratic decision if it’s something I want to try.
Pet hate?
I meet a lot of people who tell me they were “going to start a business but …” and then proceed to advise me how to run mine or come up with ideas as to what I “should try”.  I do believe in learning from other people, but I try to learn from those who have been there on the coal face instead of watching from the outside.
Best achievement so far?
As well as managing to organise a surprise Flash Mob for my wife in Las Vegas for our 10th anniversary without her knowing, I am extremely proud of being able to grow SETS. The oil and gas business is changing and I saw the need to offer a different approach. By focusing on hiring extremely experienced engineers, training up fresh talent, and always looking for the latest technology, we are able provide an integrated project management service, to meet the needs of today’s energy industry. I’m also immensely proud of SETSgrid, our pioneering software which allows clients to track previous workscopes, procedures and equipment.

What's your idea of the perfect retirement?
If retirement is still a reality when I get there, sitting beside a pool with my wife in a reasonably warm climate, reading and listening to an eclectic music collection sounds perfect.

What's the best way to motivate others?
I subscribe more to the carrot than the rod. People essentially want to be motivated and not always by money or material things. Recognition of hard work and a job well done is enough for most and typically will be rewarded in both directions.

What's your best career advice?  
I believe in constantly improving and being persistent. You don’t get if you don’t ask. I’ve been warned that there is a fine line between persistence and stalking, however I wouldn’t have got to where I am by not pushing to get answers – even if it’s not always the answers I want.
Is there any day in your career you would like to live again?
I hope that day has still to come.
Is there a time in your career you miss most?
I met my wife, Sharon, almost 20 years ago when we both worked for a sales company while I was moving around the UK. We have fantastic memories of having a lot of success and a lot of fun with no real worries and no thought of the future. I wouldn’t go back there, but it might be nice to experience it again just for one day.

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