Zhang Xin, CEO & Co-founder – SOHO China
Think Donald Trump is the richest Real Estate Mogul on the planet – think again! There’s a new Real Estate Mogul in town with an estimated net worth of $3.6 billion, according to Forbes Magazine. As 1 of only 24 self-made billionaires in the world, not to mention one of the few, self-made FEMALE billionaires, Zhang Xin, is a force to be reckoned with. Not only is she wealthier than the “Donald” and the queen of daytime tv, Oprah Winfrey, Zhang is the 7th richest, self-made woman in the world.
Zhang Xin founded SOHO China in 1995 with her husband, Pan Shiyi, a company which ultimately became China’s largest real estate developers. Together, they own a estimated 56 million square feet in both Beijing and Shanghai. Zhang was one of the first private entrepreneurs to engage in commercial real estate development in China. As CEO of SOHO China, she also led the company to an IPO on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in October 2007, which has the distinction of being Asia’s largest commercial real estate IPO as of today.
Zhang Xin has been responsible for conceptualizing all SOHO China development projects, striking a successful balance between architectural aesthetics and commercial viability. She and her husband have been instrumental in introducing the SOHO (Small Office-Home Office) to China by building efficient, multi-functional spaces that cater to China’s new entrepreneurialism. In addition to the many iconic projects she has developed in Beijing’s city center, Zhang Xin has also overseen the development of two award-winning boutique resorts, including the Commune by the Great Wall, for which she received an honor as patron of architectural works at the 8th la Biennale di Venezia.
Real Estate in the U.S.
In the U.S., Zhang has grabbed headlines for buying a 40 percent stake in the GM Building located in the heart of New York. Zhang, and Brazilian banking mogul, Moise Safra, paid about $1.4 billion for the stake in the famous building, which values the 767 Fifth Avenue property at around $3.4 billion – America’s most valuable office property.
Despite her extraordinary success, Zhang has come a long way from a life filled with poverty and backbreaking hard work in Chinese factories. Born in Beijing in 1965, Zhang moved to Hong Kong at the age of 14. While still a teenager, Zhange worked in a Chinese factory for 5 years before she was able to save up enough money for a one way ticket to England. While in England, Zhang studied Economics at the University of Sussex. She graduated in 1992 with a Master’s degree in Development Economics from Cambridge University. Afterwards, she began working for one of the largest investment firms in the world, Goldman Sachs and Traveler’s Group before deciding to return to her hometown of Beijing to co-found SOHO China.
Philanthropy – SOHO China Foundation
Aside form her entrepreneurial endeavors, Zhang has a passion for art and architecture and is deeply involved in her philanthropic work through SOHO China Foundation. She co-foudned the foundation with her husband in 2005. The charity organization is dedicated to the advancement of education as a means of alleviating poverty. The mission of SOHO China Foundation is to drive societal progress while also promoting spiritual advancement with the belief that both material and spiritual prosperity must develop in a balanced way.