SOHO China (SOHOF) founder and CEO Zhang Xin has lived a remarkable life that started with a job in a sweatshop and a dream of changing her homeland.
The 47-year-old grew up in poverty after her and her parents were exiled from Beijing by Mao Zedong’s government to the poor countryside in China according to Celebrity Net Worth. Xin’s parents had university degrees and the communist leader didn’t trust educated people so he sent them to the countryside to get ‘re-educated.’
Young Xin eventually worked at a sweat shop for five years before fleeing to London to start her new life. She worked at a fish and chips stand, learned English and eventually got a scholarship to study in the University of Sussex. Xin then got her Master’s degree in Economics in Cambridge before getting hired by Goldman Sachs.
Dissatisfied with investment banking, the former sweat shop girl went back to China and got married to Pan Shiyi, a man with similar ideals as her. The two had their difficulties but they eventually built the life that Xin always dreamed of and founded SOHO China, a real estate development company.
Xin eventually transformed Beijing into an international mecca with SOHO China. The company — which is now worth $10 billion in assets — now has a total of 56 million square feet in prime developments with 18 developments in Beijing and 11 in Shanghai.
The once-impoverished dreamer came from nothing to creating an empire that continues to modernize and create more homes in China. Xin’s net worth is about $3.6 billion, making her the seventh-richest woman alive.