Growing up, he first went to Harbin Industrial University in Heilongjiang Province, and then continued his education and earned his doctorate from Nankai University, Tianjin.
After graduation he began working at the China International Trust & Investment Corporation (CITIC), a state-owned corporation responsible for overseeing the government’s international and domestic investments. In the late 1980s he was transferred to Shenzhen, an eye-opening experience that made him think differently about his career choices.
In 1989 Zhang left CITIC to set up his own business, Neptunus Bioengineering, in Shenzhen near Hong Kong, producing a marine organic health product made from oysters, which together with many other products was sold on the retail market and through the company’s own stores. In 2006 Neptunus Group Holding Co. employed about 2750 people, and the company produced approximately 400 different products, including chemical pharmaceuticals, biological pharmaceuticals, traditional Chinese medicines, and healthcare products. Neptunus operates mainly in the domestic market, whose expansion has contributed to the company’s success. During the year ending 31 December 2006, approximately 80 percent of the company’s total revenue was from Eastern China. Neptunus controls six wholly-owned subsidiaries, three partially-owned subsidiaries and five pharmaceutical manufacturing bases. The company is headquartered in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, China. Neptunus came to the world’s attention in June 2004 when Goldman Sachs decided to invest US$40 million into this Chinese pharmaceutical giant. Neptunus is the most widely recognized pharmaceutical brand in China, and through the proposed acquisitions of companies such as AVT Plasma and further expansion, the company under Zhang’s leadership is on track to make further impacts within the Chinese pharmaceutical industry and on international publicly-traded companies.
Zhang is called the ‘captain of the pharmaceutical industry in China.’ Although he has accumulated a remarkable personal fortune in a relatively short time, Zhang is also known as one of the most generous philanthropists in the areas of education and health- care throughout China, and ranked fourteenth in the 2004 China Philanthropist List. Zhang has demonstrated the strength to persevere throughout his endeavors; he has also maintained the strict ethical standards which a national figure should uphold. As a true entrepreneur, he answers the call of the Chinese Central Government for the development of Chinese-born businesses, and thus exemplifies the model Chinese businessman for students and many others to strive for.