Yerkin Tatishev is the Founder and Chairman of the Kusto Group.
Born in 1976, Yerkin Tatishev came of age in the aftermath of the collapse of the USSR in Kazakhstan. Years of under-investment and mismanagement had done significant damage to the country’s infrastructure and industries. As a student at Moscow State Management University and witness to these changes, Tatishev observed that the hardest hit by these conditions were single-resource towns and communities, whose prosperity was tied to an ecosystem of inter-dependent mines, factories and manufacturing units.
Aged just 22, Tatishev and a group of like-minded, entrepreneurial colleagues set their sights on transforming the local mining and manufacturing enterprise in Zhitigara, a small mining town in north-western Kazakhstan, whose history was built around the operation.
Their efforts to transform failing and mismanaged assets in single industry towns such as Zhitigara, grew into a story of successful transformation, under difficult conditions. The transformative effect of Tatishev and his colleagues on the region means today, Kusto Group maintains strong ties with communities in the region.
In implementing innovative management techniques, which eliminated traditional top down hierarchies and by creating strong links with the local population and workforce, Tatishev began the process of revitalising business operations with a clear vision for a focused, profitable business.
By 2002, the situation was transformed, which saw Yerkin launch Kusto Group, a separate and new entity. The Group was founded with the lessons learned from that time; transparency, reinvestment, flat hierarchies, worker safety and deep community engagement. These ideas have always been central to Tatishev’s leadership and business strategies.
The company continued to grow internationally and in 2013, Yerkin moved the company headquarters from Almaty to Singapore and took on the formal position of Group Chairman.
Tatishev’s dedication to improving the lives of communities through industry saw him set up the Yerzhan Tatishev Foundation in 2005, named in honour of his late brother. The Foundation’s goal is to develop a new generation of young people equipped with the necessary skills in business, finance and industry to lead Kazakhstan towards a brighter future.
As part of this desire to help boost the skills of a new generation of Kazakhs’, Tatishev is applying his mind to preparing the next generation of business and community leaders in a brand new high school.
The school – recently opened in Almaty – fosters a solutions-oriented ethos through its project-based learning (PBL) curriculum. Working with Almaty educationalists, Tatishev is funding the building and operations of the school in cooperation the successful High Tech High model in San Diego, California.
Yerkin is married with four children and speaks English, Kazakh and Russian. He cites Nelson Mandela, Ghandi, Tolstoy, Muhammad Ali and Joe Fraser as his personal inspirations.