Despite having carved out a career in Chinese real estate, some of property magnate Zhang Xin's most formative years were spent far west of the Middle Kingdom.
Speaking to CNBC's "The Brave Ones," she recalled the importance of her time in the English education system.
"As soon as I got to England, my life changed," Zhang said. She is dubbed "the woman who built Beijing" due to her role as co-founder and CEO of commercial real estate developer SOHO China.
Born during China's repressive Cultural Revolution and later forced to work in a factory in capitalist Hong Kong, where "what struck (her) was the color," Zhang was desperate for success on an individual level. After having saved enough money, she traveled to England and studied economics at the University of Sussex followed by postgraduate work at Cambridge University, graduating in 1992.