In the world of business, few names resonate as strongly as Zhong Huijuan. Born in April 1961 in Lianyungang, Jiangsu Province, she has not only become a prominent figure in the pharmaceutical industry but is also celebrated as the world's richest self-made woman. Zhong is the driving force behind the success of Hansoh Pharmaceutical, a company that has redefined the pharmaceutical landscape and placed her among the wealthiest individuals globally.
Zhong's journey to becoming a pharmaceutical mogul is a remarkable tale of tenacity and innovation. After completing her studies in chemistry at Jiangsu Normal University in July 1982, she embarked on a career as a chemistry teacher at Yan'an Middle School in Lianyungang. Meanwhile, her husband, Sun Piaoyang, was managing a state-owned pharmaceutical factory in the same city, which would later evolve into Jiangsu Hengrui Medicine, China's largest listed pharmaceutical company.
It was in 1995 that Sun and a Hong Kong-based investor initiated a new pharmaceutical venture, ultimately forming Hansoh Pharmaceutical Group. However, Sun's commitments at the state-owned factory left him with little time to oversee the burgeoning enterprise. This was Zhong's moment to step into the pharmaceutical realm as a founder, marking a turning point in her career.
Hansoh Pharmaceutical began with just a handful of employees, but it didn't take long for the company to flourish. By 1997, it had generated $4.5 million in revenue. Zhong's commitment to the company's growth was evident as she reinvested a substantial 5% of sales revenue into research and development. The company delved into creating various pharmaceutical products, including antibiotics, cancer treatments, and drugs related to psychotropic, endocrine, and gastrointestinal disorders.
Zhong's unwavering commitment to research and development saw the budget for this purpose rise to nearly 10% of the company's revenue, a significant investment in the industry.
Hansoh Pharmaceutical marked a significant milestone when it conducted its initial public offering on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in June 2019, raising an impressive $1 billion. This achievement catapulted Zhong to the status of the richest self-made woman in Asia, with a net worth of $10.5 billion, surpassing even her husband's fortune of $9.4 billion.
Zhong is the company's majority shareholder, possessing a commanding 66% stake in Hansoh Pharmaceutical. In 2021, Forbes recognised her as the world's 89th richest person, boasting a remarkable net worth of $19.7 billion.
By 2019, the company had emerged as the largest producer of psychotropic drugs in China. Zhong, who owns 66% of the company through the Sunrise Trust registered in the British Virgin Islands, experienced a considerable increase in her wealth in 2020, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. In that year, Forbes recognised her as the world's 9th richest woman and the 20th richest individual in China, according to Hurun.
Zhong's exceptional contributions haven't gone unnoticed. In 2007, she was honoured with the March 8th Red Banner Pacesetter Award, recognising her outstanding achievements as a working woman in China.
While Zhong and her husband, Sun Piaoyang, have amassed substantial wealth and influence, they remain relatively private figures, seldom granting interviews. Their daughter, Sun Yuan, also holds an executive role in Hansoh Pharmaceutical and has a stake in the company, ensuring the family's legacy in the pharmaceutical industry.
Zhong Huijuan's remarkable journey from a chemistry teacher to the helm of a pharmaceutical empire stands as a testament to her unwavering commitment to innovation and excellence. Her impact on the pharmaceutical world is a source of inspiration for aspiring entrepreneurs and business leaders alike.