He is the former Chairman of the Management Board of Samruk-Kazyna National Welfare Fund and a member of the Board of Directors of the Gazprom company. As of October 2015, he was listed as the third richest man in Kazakhstan and the 894th richest in the world with a fortune of $2.1 billion. Kulibayev has been called "the most important business figure in the resource-rich" Republic of Kazakhstan by The Daily Telegraph.
Kulibayev was born on 10 September 1966 in Alma-Ata (now Almaty), Kazakh SSR, USSR. In 1988, he graduated from Lomonosov Moscow State University, majoring in "National Economy Planning", making him an economist by profession. He has a Ph.D. in Economics, and defended a thesis on: "Improvement of Organizational and Economic Mechanism of Enterprise Management in Market Environment (based on the oil industry)" (1999). He has a number of research publications. He speaks fluent Kazakh, Russian and English.
From 1988 to 1992, he worked as an economist. He was a junior research assistant at the Scientific-Research Economics Institute of Planning and Normative Standards (SREIP&NS) under the State Plan of Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic, and was a director of the Scientific-Consulting Center of the Fund of Cultural, Social, Scientific and Technological Development of Kazakhstan.
In 1990, he was the director of the Research and Consultative Center under the Fund for Cultural, Social and Technological Development in Kazakhstan. He headed Altyn-Alma and was Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Almaty Trade and Industry Bank. In 1997 he was appointed as the head of the Directorate for Project Assessment and Negotiating under the Investment Committee of Kazakhstan (exercising rights of the Deputy Chairman).
From May 1997 until March 1999, he was the Vice-President on Economy and Finance of CJSC National Oil and Gas Company Kazkhoil. In March 1999 he became the President of CJSC National Company for Oil Transportation KazTransOil. From May 2001 till February 2002 he was the General Director of CJSC National Company Oil and Gas Transportation (created on the basis of KazTransOil and KazTransGas). From February 2002 until October 2005 he was the First Vice-President of JSC NC KazMunayGas, a merger of CJSC NC KazakhOil and CJSC NC Oil and Gas Transportation.
From May 1997 until March 1999 he was the Vice-President on Economy and Finance of CJSC National Oil and Gas Company Kazkhoil. In March 1999 he became the President of CJSC National Company for Oil Transportation KazTransOil. From May 2001 until February 2002 he was the General Director of CJSC National Company Oil and Gas Transportation (created on the basis of KazTransOil and KazTransGas). From February 2002 until October 2005, he was the First Vice-President of JSC NC KazMunayGas, a merger of CJSC NC KazakhOil and CJSC NC Oil and Gas Transportation.
After his resignation from the post in KazMunaiGas, he has initiated foundation and headed the Association of Legal Entities Kazakhstan Association of Oil, Gas and Energy Sector Organizations KAZENERGY that united major national and foreign companies, operating in the energy sector of Kazakhstan. At the same time he became part-time Adviser to the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan. In 2005-06 and 2007-08 he combined a public activity with a direct management of his own private business.
From April 2006 till August 2007, he was the Deputy Chairman of the Management Board of JSC Kazakhstan Holding Company for State Assets Management Samruk. Simultaneously he was the Chairman of Board of Directors of JSC KEGOC and NC KazMunaiGas. In October 2008 he became the Deputy Chairman of the Management Board of JSC National Welfare Fund Samruk-Kazyna. He is Chairman of the Boards of Directors of JSC Kazatomprom, JSC NC KazMunayGas, JSC NC Kazakhstan TemirZholy, JSC Kazakhstan Company on Power Grid Management (KEGOC), JSC Samruk-Energo.
By decree of the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan #409, on 12 April 2011, he was appointed to the post of the Chairman of the Management Board of JSC NWF Samruk-Kazyna. Based on the voting results by Decree of the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan #410 of 12 April 2011, he was elected to the membership of the Board of Directors. The election of T.A. Kulibayev to the Board of Directors of the Russian largest energy company shows the particular importance of economic cooperation between Kazakhstan and the Russian Federation, as well as a recognition of high professional qualities of the Chief Executive of Samruk-Kazyna Fund.
On 26 December 2011, Kulibayev resigned from the post of Chairman of the Board of Samruk-Kazyna.
Since June 2008, he has been Chairman of the Kazakhstan National Committee of the World Petroleum Council.
Since 2004 – honorary member of the Council of Federation of the Republican Public Association “National Federation of Golf of RoK”.
Since 2008 – chairman of Kazakhstan National Committee of World Petroleum Council.
Since 2009 – president of Kazakhstan Boxing Federation.
Since 2010 – a member of the Executive Committee of the National Olympic Committee of RoK.
Since 2011 – chairman of the Board of Trustees of “Arystan” specialized lyceum (Talgar town);
Since 2012 –vice-president, a member of the Executive Committee of International Boxing Association (AIBA).
Since 2012 – chairman of Kazakhstan Confederation of Сombat and Strength Sports.
Since 2014 – a member of the National Olympic Committee.
Since 2014 – chairman of Multi-Sport Games of “SportAccord” International Convention.
Since 2015 – president of the National Olympic Committee of RoK.
Since 2016 - Vice President (Central Asia) of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA)
He is married to Dinara Nursultanovna (née Nazarbayeva), daughter of Kazakhstan's long-time president Nursultan Nazarbayev. They have three children: a son Altay (born 1990), and daughters Deniza (2004) and Alishya (2010). He has an additional two natural children with entrepreneur and socialite Goga Ashkenazi, both sons: Adam, born in 2007, and Alan, born in 2012.
Kulibayev is an avid fan of sports, especially golf, and often competes in golf tournaments. He is president of Kazakhstani Boxing Federation.
Awards of the Republic of Kazakhstan:Kurmet order (2001)
Barys order of 3-d degree (2009)
Barys order of 1-t degree (2014)
Jubilee medal “The 10-th Anniversary of Kazakhstan Constitution” (2005)
Jubilee medal “The 10-th Anniversary of Astana (2008)
Jubilee medal “The 20-th Anniversary of Independence of RoK” (2011)
Awards of the Russian Federation:“Druzhba” order of the Russian Federation (2007)
“Honorary Railman” medal (2011)