Zhang Xin regarded as one of the world’s most powerful women, will be awarded Doctor of Laws in recognition of her contribution to the economic development of China. (Tuesday 9th July 2013).
Born in Beijing in 1965, Zhang Xin moved to Hong Kong at the age of 14 where she worked in a garment factory for five years before making her way to England. Here, she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Sussex and a Masters degree in Development Economics from Cambridge.
After working in investment banking on Wall Street for Goldman Sachs and Travelers Group, she returned to Beijing to co-found SOHO China in 1995 with her husband Pan Shiyi, both of whom remain the CEO and Chairman (respectively) today. Together with her husband, Zhang Xin has led SOHO China to become the largest office property developer in Beijing and Shanghai, with over 5.2 million square metres in projects.
SOHO China is highly acclaimed for redefining the modern architectural landscapes of China’s leading cities. As CEO, Zhang Xin has led SOHO China to collaborate with internationally acclaimed architects, translating their innovative designs into iconic real estate and dramatically modern commercial properties, designed by the likes of Kengo Kuma and Pritzker Prize winning architect Zaha Hadid.
SOHO China’s 18 properties in China’s capital are recognised as landmark buildings, and their groundbreaking aesthetic is representative of a modern and constantly evolving China. Since 2009 the company has successfully expanded into and established its presence in Shanghai, through the acquisition and development of a total of 14 properties.
Zhang Xin’s visionary achievements have distinguished her as a creative force in China. Commune by the Great Wall, featuring the works of 12 Asian architects nestled into the mountain valleys of the Great Wall of China, garnered Zhang Xin a special prize as a patron of architectural works at the 2002 Venice Biennale. Most recently, SOHO China’s Galaxy SOHO in Beijing, was bestowed a RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) Award.
Featured frequently both in China and around the world as an opinion leader on China’s real-estate market and economic development, Zhang Xin’s triumphant entrepreneurship and personal story have led her to be recognized internationally as an emblem of the China’s growth, and domestically as a celebrity figure, with over six million followers on weibo, the Chinese version of twitter, where she regularly shares her views on business, current affairs and architecture.
Zhang Xin has been named repeatedly by Forbes magazine among the ‘World’s 100 Most Powerful Women’, ranking 50th in this year’s listing. In 2012, Forbes also recognized Zhang Xin and her husband Pan Shiyi as one of the ‘World’s 15 Most Powerful Couples’.