People often say that life never gives us what we want so we have to take out what we want from what life offers to us; just like forming lemons into lemonade. This turns out to be the narrative for many who have turned out great and successful in our world today.

One characteristic of these people is that they chose not to negotiate with life rather they wisely purchase for themselves through diligence, wisdom, and hard-work the things which they want. Most of them though born with little or nothing, have grown far beyond their expectation just because they chose not to settle for less.

Zhang Xin shares this same storyline. She moved from a factory worker to a real estate billionaire, spreading her wealth to the under-privileged having escaped their predicament. Here is her story.

Zhang Xin was born a year before China’s Cultural Revolution began (1966-1976), on the 24 of August 1965 in Beijing, China. Her parents were separated during the Revolution and her mother moved with her only child (Zhang) to Hong Kong.

Zhang was fourteen when this happened she had to support her mother to earn a living. They were able to afford a room just big enough for two bunk beds which they lived in until Zhang left for London to further her education.

Before then, she worked for five years in small garment factories and electronic products in order to save for her education.

She was 19 years old when she finally had enough to cater for airfare to London. Getting to London, she enrolled for English study at secretarial school but later furthered her education studying Economics at the University of Sussex where she finally graduated from in 1992.

Zhang is a master’s degree holder in Development Economics from Cambridge University, and a doctorate degree holder in law, which she earned from her Alma Mater, theUniversity of Sussex in 2013.

She moved to Hong Kong after received an appointment to work for Goldman Sachs investment bank in Hong Kong.

But after a while, she got married and returned to her hometown, Beijing where she co-foundedHongshi (meaning Red Stone), with her husband Pan Shiyi in 1995.

Hongshi was later changed to SOHO China, one of China’s largest prime office property developers in Beijing and Shanghai with 5.4 million square meters (54 million square feet) in developments.

Zhang Xin is a renowned patron of the architecture sector in China and an innovative entrepreneur whose work has been recognized internationally.

Her partnerships with world-renowned architects have created the establishment of iconic landmark buildings that transformed Chinese skylines

Zhang Xinis also the co-founded the SOHO China Foundation which was initiated in 2005 alongside her husband. The SOHO China Foundation is a philanthropic organization that engages in education-focused initiatives to alleviate poverty.

In July 2014, the SOHO China Foundation announced the SOHO China Scholarships a US $100 million initiative to endow financial aid scholarships at leading international universities.

As a result of her commendable effort both in economic development and humanitarian services, she has received numerous awards including international.

She was awarded a Special Prize at the 8th la Biennale di Venezia by the Great Wall, a private collection of architecture featuring the works of twelve Asian architects.

Zhang Xin is a member and Young Global Leader of World Economic Forum, Davos, a member of the Global Board of Advisors of the Council on Foreign Relations, and a Board Member of the Harvard Global Advisory Council.

She served as a Trustee of the China Institute in America from 2005 to 2010 and was recognized by the China Institute with the Blue Cloud Award in 2010.

She is happily married to her husband Pan Shiyi, and they reside in Beijing.

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