Women in Real Estate (SOHO China) – Zhang Xin


Technological transformation has disrupted industries around the world, and it’s impacting a range of property sectors. The effects are far-ranging, from the way people buy and rent homes to the disruptive force of co-working players coupled with tech giants in China leaping into the real estate market.

In today’s article, we look at how Zhang Xin, a billionaire real estate mogul and founded SOHO China,  and the challenges she faced.

Who is she?

Zhang is the Co-founder and CEO of SOHO China, a dominant Beijing real estate development firm. In 2010, Zhang was named in Forbes magazine as one of the world’s 10 self-made billionaire women, with a personal fortune of $2bn (£1.35bn). She is also known as “the women who built Beijing”.

She was born into China’s past, growing up during the second half of the Cultural Revolution (1966-76), the daughter of third-generation Chinese immigrants to Burma who returned to Beijing in the 1950s, drawn partly by the dream of the new Red China. 

How SOHO China started

Zhang moved to Hong Kong at the age of 14 where she labored as a factory girl for five years before making her way to England. There, she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Sussex University and a Master’s degree in Development Economics from Cambridge University. After working in investment banking for Goldman Sachs and Travelers Group, she returned to Beijing to co-found SOHO China.

In 1995, Zhang co-founded the company with her husband. When they started out, they were among the first. Beijing had no and Shanghai had very few large buildings. At that time, it was all about building, building, building and then selling, selling, selling. They were working like a manufacturer. Soon, however, they realized that land was running out in Beijing and Shanghai. So they started keeping their buildings, and managing and renting them out. They became landowners.

SOHO China

SOHO China focuses on developing and holding high-profile branded commercial properties in Beijing and Shanghai. The Company rolled out high-quality, innovative products in prime locations and translated the innovative designs into iconic real estate which possesses strong appeal to property investors and the local businesses and customer bases. SOHO China’s properties have already become landmark buildings in the city’s modern skyline. 

Zhang has led the company to become the largest developer of prime office real estate in Beijing and Shanghai. SOHO China has developed over 54 million square feet in projects in Beijing and Shanghai, and is acclaimed for developing iconic landmark buildings. Widely credited with revolutionizing Beijing’s architectural landscape, Xin(Shynn) ZHANG’s visionary achievements have distinguished her as a creative force for China.

Challenges she faced

Apart from competing in the extremely competitive marketplace of China, Zhang said that one of the biggest challenges of any business is hiring the right people that are not only skilled, but also fit into your company culture and share the same life values.

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