Mr. Zhang is a co-founder of Thayer International Group (TIG), a leading global hospitality investment firm, established in collaboration with his esteemed partners Lee Pillsbury, the former Chief Corporate Officer of Marriott Hotels and co-founder of Thayer Lodging Group; and Fred Malek, former President of Marriott Hotels and Campaign Manager for George H.W. Bush. With a rich career spanning over 25 years in the travel and lodging sector, Mr. Zhang’s expertise has been a cornerstone of TIG’s success.
During his tenure at Thayer, Mr. Zhang notably served as the Managing Director of Thayer Lodging Group (a member of Brookfield Asset Management, NYSE:BAM), a prominent private equity firm specializing in lodging investment in the US. He spearheaded the firm’s new ventures, international expansion, and robust acquisition strategies. Thayer boasts an impressive IRR of 26.8% over a 25-year investment horizon, with landmark acquisitions and investments including the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, Interstate Hotels Group, and The Louvre Hotels Group, among others.
Mr. Zhang played a pivotal role in propelling Jinjiang Hotels Group from a modest portfolio of fewer than 100 hotels to a global conglomerate of over 6,500 hotels, securing its position as the second-largest hotel group worldwide. This monumental growth was achieved through five joint ventures between Thayer and Jinjiang over a span of 12 years, which involved strategic investments and acquisitions in notable hotel groups such as Accor, Platino, Vienna, and Radisson, etc.
In a visionary move, Mr. Zhang founded HUBS1 to bridge global connections – It was the exclusive hotel reservation platform for the 2010 Shanghai World Expo, serving 70 million visitors during the 6-month period. In 2009 and 2010, the innovative venture was lauded by Silicon Valley’s “Red Herring” magazine as one of the top 100 companies in Asia and the world, respectively—a testament to HUBS1’s significant impact on leveraging technology to enhance the human experience.
Over his career, Mr. Zhang has received numerous accolades including being named among the Top Financial Executives by US CFO & Controller magazine and Top 10 CEOs by China Times. His remarkable achievements were spotlighted in China Daily’s “60 year, 60 people, 60 story” feature commemorating the 60th anniversary of PRC, and he was honored as one of the 40 influential individuals in China’s hotel industry during the 40-year “opening-up and reform” policy celebration by the China Hotel Association.
Mr. Zhang has also contributed to academia, serving as a special consul to the Dean of Cornell Hotel School and being a member of the Dean’s advisory board, Cornell China Council. He holds the position of an adjunct professor at The School of Management at Kyoto University and was a visiting professor for the 88th Cornell Hotel School Dean’s Distinguished Lecture Series. Mr. Zhang holds the distinction of being the first graduate from mainland China of the Cornell School of Hotel Administration, earning a Bachelor of Science degree. He also holds an M.B.A. from The Wharton School.