Fridman started as a theatre ticket checker as a student. This was before he graduated from the Moscow Institute of Steel and Alloys in 1986.
He started as an entrepreneur in 1988, establishing Courier, a window-washing business, with a group of friends from University, where they employed students from different Moscow universities. Together with several partners he founded the Alfa Group Consortium in 1989, primarily focusing on computer trading and copy machine maintenance, expanding into imports and exports, trading commodities and importing consumer goods. Alfa-Bank was established in December 1990, and grew to be one of the largest private banks in Russia today. In 1997, Alfa Group Consortium together with Access Industries/Renova Group acquired the TNK Oil Company. In 2003, Alfa Group and its partners completed a deal with BP to form the 50/50 TNK–BP joint venture. Mikhail served as a CEO of TNK-BP until July 2012, when it was sold to Rosneft for 56 billion USD. L1 was established in 2013 to invest in international projects. As well as being Chairman of the Board of Directors of L1 Holdings and L1 Investment Holdings, Mikhail is Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Alfa Croup Consortium, one of the Russia’s largest privately owned financial-industrial conglomerates.
He has been an active supporter of Jewish initiatives in Russia and elsewhere in Europe. In 1996 Fridman was one of the founders of the Russian Jewish Congress, now sitting on the RJC Presidium. He makes large contribution to the work of the European Jewish Fund, a non-profit organization aimed at developing European Jewry and promoting tolerance and reconciliation on the continent.
Fridman is a member of the prestigious International Advisory Board of the Council of Foreign Relations. Along with that, he is also a member of the Public Chamber of Russia. Also, he is a member and on the Board of Directors of Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs.
Fridman is an active supporter of the national literary award "Big Book" and a member of the board of the "Center support for native literature" focused on implementing cultural programs, promoting the ideals of humanism and respect for the values of Russian culture, supporting creative writing and book publishing in Russia.
Though he is a smart businessman, Fridman has been involved in some purchasing controversies, most recently the luxury houses controversy in 2005. He remains to be an inspirational figure to many Russian businessmen.
He is also known to have a very social public image and can often be seen in many public functions and get-togethers.
Married; 2 children.