Social Action Award finalists with the UK Ambassador to Kazakhstan at the national ceremony of the Study UK Alumni Awards 2023–24 in Astana, Kazakhstan
Social Action Award finalists with the UK Ambassador to Kazakhstan at the national ceremony of the Study UK Alumni Awards 2023–24 in Astana, Kazakhstan

Celebrating the achievements of alumni in Kazakhstan

On 8 February 2024, the British Council in Kazakhstan announced the winners and finalists at its 6th Study UK Alumni Awards Ceremony at the Residence of His Majesty’s Ambassador to Kazakhstan Kathy Leach.

The event was attended by a number of high level guests, including His Excellency Sayasat Nurbek, Minister of Science and Higher Education; as well as AIFC Governor Mr Renat Bekturov, Global Winner Study UK Alumni Awards 2022; Director of the British Council in Kazakhstan, Robert Taylor; and senior managers from organisations supporting alumni of governmental scholarships.

The British Council marked the tenth year of this prestigious award celebrating the outstanding achievements of the UK’s international alumni around the world, holding ceremonies in 22 countries.

The Study UK Alumni Awards are open to alumni living anywhere outside of the UK. Award winners and finalists are leaders in their fields who have used their experience of studying at a UK university to make a positive contribution to their communities, industries and countries. The Study UK Alumni Awards celebrate and showcase the impact and value of a UK higher education and raise the international profile of UK alumni and their former universities.

This year the awards were open to alumni currently residing in any country outside the UK who have either studied in the UK at an officially recognised provider of UK university degree level study for a minimum of a term or semester, or who have been awarded a full UK degree level qualification (or higher) by a UK university through a local institution overseas, within the last 15 years.

There were four award categories:

Business and Innovation Award – Recognising alumni who are active in initiating and contributing to innovative or creative new ideas, solutions or business opportunities that have the potential for growth.
Areas of work could include: Entrepreneurship, business, technology and finance.

Culture and Creativity Award – Recognising alumni who have carved a career for themselves in arts and culture. We are looking for individuals who can demonstrate their artistic ingenuity, influence and creativity.
Areas of work could include: Arts, design, humanities, traditional media, music, video, TV, sports, online content and audiovisual media creation (e.g. blogging, vlogging – including for YouTube and social media).

Science and Sustainability Award – Recognising alumni who have distinguished themselves through their career and achievements in the world of science and sustainability, and who can demonstrate the impact and scale of their achievements in their profession and beyond.
Areas of work could include: Climate action, clean energy, medicine, sustainable cities and communities, engineering, industry and construction.

Social Action Award – Recognising alumni who have made an exceptional contribution and commitment to creating positive social change and improving the lives of others.
Areas of work could include: Education, peace and justice and reducing inequality, poverty and hunger and broader humanitarian work or work for social good.


In Kazakhstan all the finalists received a certificate and the winner in each category also received a trophy and a prize of up to £2,000 for a professional development opportunity of their choice.

The benefits of winning a prestigious Alumni Award also include the opportunity to:

  • raise your international profile through global press and digital coverage
  • build your professional networks and business connections
  • win a professional networking visit to the UK if chosen to be one of four global winners.

Meet the Study UK Alumni Awards 2023–24 winners and judges in Kazakhstan

Business and Innovation Award

Winner: Gulzhan Kozhabayeva | University of Dundee, LLM in International Mineral Law and Policy (2019), University of Liverpool, MBA (2017)

Gulzhan Kozhabayeva founded Women in Mining Kazakhstan, becoming a pioneer in Central Asia in elevating women’s role in the mining sector and putting Kazakhstan on the global industry map.

Her education at the University of Dundee allowed her to delve into the evolving mineral industry, analysing its past work and transition to sustainability, and learning about regulatory frameworks crucial for responsible resource management. Gulzhan explored governmental and corporate choices that impacted environmental and social aspects of mining to enforce positive change in outdated mining practices.

Gulzhan aims to continue advocating for sustainable mining practices and empowering women in the natural resources sector, contributing to global efforts for equitable and environmentally conscious resource management.

Finalist: Saltanat Januzakova | University College London (UCL), BSc Economics (2011), MSc Economic Policy (2012)

Saltanat is Director of IT products at Beeline Kazakhstan, a leader of 150 employees, 25 scrum teams that develop and expand more than 30 products. Saltanat’s commitment to attracting more women to the tech industry has led to an increase of 14% in the number of female employees at her directorate. She is also an organiser at the Google Developers Group, which attracts more than 1,000 students to its events and has seen a substantial increase in female subscribers in the past year.

Saltanat’s self-learning skills, honed during her studies at UCL, propelled her from a non-computer science background to becoming an IT Director, ensuring adaptability in the rapidly evolving industry.

Saltanat now mentors girls who want to enter the IT industry and hopes to further increase the representation of women in tech and bridge the salary gap.

Finalist: Daniyar Medetov | University of Reading, Henley Business School, MSc in Entrepreneurship and Management (2017)

Daniyar is an international expert in entrepreneurship education and start-up consultancy development. He currently works as Dean of Academic Affairs at the internationally accredited School of Entrepreneurship and Innovation and holds the position of Professor of Practice in Entrepreneurship and Strategy at AlmaU. Daniyar has advised more than 500 high growth firms across the CIS and the UK.

Daniyar’s exposure to entrepreneurship subjects and a broad spectrum of theoretical and practical knowledge at Henley Business School has equipped him with confidence and a far-reaching skill set that he is currently leveraging within his role.

Daniyar is now using his expertise to build a robust framework of entrepreneurship education at all levels through continuous practice and research in the SPECA sub-region.

Culture and Creativity Award

Winner: Kamila Lukpanova | University of Warwick, MA in Global Media and Communication (2013)

Kamila Lukpanova is a project management expert in the field of culture and education in the Republic of Kazakhstan. Kamila’s idea and work on the modernisation of Almaty city libraries became a successful case and as a result started the process of transformation of all libraries in Kazakhstan, as well as in villages.

Kamila’s studies in the UK made a huge impact on her professional development and personal changes through life in the UK. Kamila considers receiving a UK diploma a great opportunity and a guarantee for the implementation of many of her projects, which have become an important part of the development of society, as well as catalysts for numerous changes currently taking place in Kazakhstan.

Kamila Lukpanova is now taking a leading role in the creation of the useful spaces in Kazakhstani villages (community centres, modernised libraries), as well as building the first destination marketing organisation (DMO) in the Republic to promote Almaty city as a popular tourist destination using the skills and knowledge she acquired at the University of Warwick.

Finalist: Aigul Nurkeyeva | Newcastle University, MA in Media and Journalism (2017)

As a former editor-in-chief of the main regional newspaper Aktubinskyi vestnik and current deputy director of the Aktobe Media company, Aigul Nurkeyeva is responsible for the development of the local press.

Aigul believes that Newcastle University provided her with knowledge and skills that are crucial in her media and managerial work – from analytical and critical thinking to understanding of global media processes in the digital age.

In March 2023, Aigul was elected deputy of the regional maslikhat (local representative body) and became a member of the social commission. She intends to use all her accumulated experience not only in the company, but also to solve problems in the region.

Finalist: Gulnara Zholzhanova | Newcastle University, MA of Arts in Media and Journalism (2017)

Gulnara Zholzhanova is a journalist. She has contributed to scientific work looking for solutions to problems in traditional media. She has written numerous articles which were published in the national newspaper Eqemen Qazaqstan and discussed widely by the public.

Gulnara believes that Newcastle University taught her how to work with academic resources, present her research on a particular problem, find a solution to it and adapting it to the context of one’s own country.

Gulnara Zholzhanova now shares her skills with media experts, participates in national and international conferences not as an ordinary journalist, but as a scientist-journalist. She has written reports on Kazakhstan’s journalism and her articles were published in scientific journals.

Science and Sustainability Award

Winner: Yerkenaz Zholymbayeva | The University of Warwick, MSc in Process Business Management (2015)

Yerkenaz is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) and National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health (NEBOSH) professional with experience in uranium mining, oil and gas, research and development (R&D) projects. She is R&D project manager in the uranium mining company Kazatomprom & ORANO (KATCO). Her ground-breaking work will increase uranium production from depleted and new wells.

Yerkenaz believes that studying in the UK is something special and a unique opportunity for students, as well as a huge responsibility for graduates on return to their home country.

Yerkenaz’ broad experience and competence will allow her to develop new technologies at Kazatomprom and ORANO subsidiaries. She plans to advocate for a nuclear power plant in Kazakhstan by sharing short videos on social media and delivering workshops on nuclear safety and the importance of nuclear energy.

Finalist: Zarina Temirbulatova | University of Bristol, MSc in International Commercial Law (2019)

Zarina Temirbulatova is the Legal and Corporate Affairs Co-ordinator at Arm Wind LLP, the renewables subsidiary of the international energy giant Eni S.p.A. in Kazakhstan. Zarina played a pivotal role in the development of three large-scale renewable energy projects across Kazakhstan, serving clean energy to thousands by navigating various legal matters and ensuring smooth contract negotiations and compliance.

Zarina thinks that Bristol’s highly competitive environment, coupled with its rigorous grading system, instilled in her a relentless pursuit of excellence. The demanding academic landscape taught her not just to merely pass exams or get by, but to continuously evolve, face challenges head-on and adapt to challenging tasks.

Zarina intends to continue her professional development in the renewables sector and enhance her knowledge and skills in negotiating and drafting power purchase agreements.

Finalist: Alina Alimbekova | University of Dundee, LLM Law (2020)

Alina Alimbekova is an expert in the field of legislation and compliance who has contributed to the establishment of advanced sanctions compliance and export control institutes with minimal impact on business and employees, which has enabled companies to develop sustainably and confidently despite today’s challenging times and geopolitical realities.

Alina believes that knowledge, analytical skills and methodologies she acquired at the University of Dundee and University of Leicester helped her to efficiently solve challenging tasks in a short period of time.

Alina applies her skills to launch, maintain and enhance the export control process in Kazakhstan, recognised as the most advanced in the whole Schneider Electric world (Fortune 500 company).

Social Action Award

Winner: Khalida Azhigulova | University of Leicester, PhD in Law (2019)

Dr Khalida Azhigulova is a human rights lawyer, Children’s Ombudsperson in Almaty (Kazakhstan) and an international consultant on the prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse for UN Agencies in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Khalida’s work helped pass progressive legislation that banned the bullying of children and required all Kazakhstani schools have internal anti-bullying policies.

Khalida believes that studying at the University of Leicester enhanced her analytical, research and advocacy skills, while living in Leicester gave her first-hand experience of child protection issues.

Khalida continues her research and advocacy work to pass effective child welfare and protection laws in Kazakhstan.

Finalist: Aigerim Mussabalinova | University of Sussex, PhD in Law (2021)

Aigerim is a national consultant on children’s rights in Kazakhstan. Aigerim’s regular consultations for official bodies and NGOs helped her to advocate for the best interests and rights of children deprived of parental care. Currently, she teaches Children’s Rights at KIMEP University.

Aigerim acknowledges that her doctoral study and teaching at Sussex broadened her perspective and vision of inclusive education, and helped develop her independent and original problem-solving, critical thinking and teaching skills.

Aigerim is now making use of her skills to advocate for children’s rights in her home country, advising the government to take children’s interests into account in all actions related to them.

Finalist: Almat Igenbayev | University College London (UCL), LLM Law (2017)

Almat conducts commercial cases at the Astana International Financial Centre Court and International Arbitration Centre, ensuring compliance with the globally recognised principles of English Common Law. Almat enhances his impact through legal education, providing training in mediation and dispute resolution to empower legal professionals.

Almat’s UCL education deepened his understanding of dispute resolution through rigorous academic study, extensive research opportunities, a vibrant community and world-class infrastructure, which provided him with valuable insights and practical skills for real-world application.

Almat’s work contributes to the creation of a robust legal infrastructure in Eurasia, the promotion of global standards and the strengthening of the rule of law in the region.

This year’s judges

  • Daniyar Mukitanov, Head of Experimentation, UNDP Kazakhstan
  • Gulzira Amanturlina, President of the Association of Social Entrepreneurs
  • Gainel Usstayeva, Director of the Centre on Bioethics at Al-Farabi Kazakh National University
  • Aliya Sembayeva, Vice-President of Science Fund
  • Galym Baitimbetov, Founder and CEO of AquaPoint LLP, Study UK Alumni Awards Winner 2020
  • Indira Kyilybayeva, Executive director for economic planning and analysis, Transtelecom, Study UK Alumni Awards Winner 2023
  • Aigul Maratkyzy, Director of Creative Industries Centre, AlmaU
  • Dinara Bekmagambetova, Public Relations manager, the British Embassy

All finalists will be put forward for the global Alumni Awards.

When outstanding individuals receive a world-class education in the UK, the effects can last a lifetime. The Alumni Awards shine a light on the impact that alumni of UK higher education institutions are making in their chosen field and how this was sparked by their studies in the UK.

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