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Four business leaders who shocked their friends


Pan Shiyi, chairman of SOHO China, and wife Zhang Xin, the company's CEO at a news conference in Hong Kong in August 2016

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Pan Shiyi, chairman of SOHO China, and wife Zhang Xin, the company’s CEO at a news conference in Hong Kong in August 2016

“We fell in love, and four days later he said: ‘I think you should be my wife.’ And I was, like: ‘Oh, this is interesting. And sure, why not?’ So we decided to get married.”

“I remember when I told my friends, everyone was like: ‘Are you out of your mind? Like, you’re going to get married with a guy you just met four days ago? And with a guy who has never stepped out of China for a day? Are you sure this is going to work?’ And I was telling people: ‘Yes, I’m sure that’s going to work.'”

Zhang and Pan founded the company that would become one of Beijing’s largest real estate developers, Soho China, in 1995. But the course of true love did not run smoothly, with the couple considering a separation after their different approaches caused arguments.

Zhang stepped down from the business for a time, but after a while they found a way of working together, with her focusing on design and him on sales. She’s now CEO of Sho China and together, the couple is worth upwards of $3 billion.

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