Born in Artvin in 1925, Nihat Gökyiğit received his BA at Robert College in 1946 and his MA in Civil Engineering at the University of Michigan in 1948.
In 1956, he founded, with his partners, Feyyaz Berker and Necati Akçaglilar, the company FNN Müsavir Mühendislik (Consultant Engineering), which was the seed of Tekfen Holding. Since then, he has served either as a member or chairman of the Boards of Directors of more than 50 of Tekfen's group companies.
For 35 years, he has served as Chairman of the Advisory Board of AIESEC-Turkey, the world's largest student organization. A member of the Turkish Industrialists' and Businessmen's Association (TÜSİAD) and the Foreign Economic Relations Board (DEIK), Gökyiğit was a member of the Boards of Directors of DEIK between 1988 and 2005 and of TÜSIAD between 1985 and 1987. He worked for 10 years as Chairman of the Turkish-CIS Business Council, under the auspices of DEIK, and as the Turkish Representative on the Black Sea Business Council. Gökyiğit is the Honorary Consul of Georgia and Kyrgyzstan and an honorary citizen of Georgia. He is still an Honorary Member of DEIK and a member of TÜSIAD.
Gökyiğit is the Founding Honorary Chairman of the Turkish Green Building Council and the Turkish Foundation for Combatting Erosion, for Reforestation and Protection of Natural Habitats (TEMA). He helped TEMA to launch its first projects, related to the environment, protection of natural resources and rural development. One of these, the Camili Region Sustainable Development Project, won an award at the 2002 Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development.
Through the ANG Foundation, which bears his name, he established the Nezahat Gökyiğit Botanical Garden on 50 hectares of land in Istanbul in memory of his wife. He is also the founder of the Tekfen Philharmonic Orchestra, an important cultural institution that also serves world peace.
Gökyiğit is an active member of many international organizations concerned with water, energy, the environment and natural resources. He is the founder and co-chairman of the East Meets West International Energy Conference, which has been held annually for the past 10 years in Istanbul.
Gökyiğit was given the Environmental Service Award by Akdeniz University and has received an honorary doctorate from Çukurova, Bosphorus and Gazi Osman Paşa Universities.
Nihat Gökyiğit was awarded the Order of Merit by the Turkish President in 1997, the Order of Merit by the Turkish Parliament in 2010, and he was named the Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst&Young in 2009.