Tsai Ing-wen, elected Taiwan's first female president, worked for a string of government agencies after earning a doctorate in law from the London School of Economics in 1984.
While working on the National Security Council under Taiwan’s first native-born president, Lee Teng-hui, she helped draft Lee's 1999 statement describing China and Taiwan's relationship as "state-to-state" rather than as being between central and local governments.
Tsai, who is leader of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), worked in the first DPP administration at the beginning of the 2000s. She served as chairwoman of the Mainland Affairs Council, which handled Taiwan's policy toward China, and later as a DPP legislator and vice-premier.
The 59-year-old took the helm of the DPP in May 2008 after the grassroots party suffered an electoral debacle in early 2008, when Ma Ying-jeou won the presidency by a landslide and his Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) won a three-fourths legislative majority.
She brought her fractious party together and revived its reputation for competent governance and clean politics. In November 2010, the party won nine of 13 legislative by-elections.
But there were setbacks on her path to becoming president.
In those same 2010 polls, Tsai lost her race for mayor of New Taipei City to the KMT candidate. It was her first time standing for a direct election.
Then, after campaigning under the slogan "Taiwan Next," Tsai lost her 2012 presidential bid to the incumbent Ma by a 6 percentage points.
Tsai told a tearful crowd of thousands outside her campaign headquarters: "We will be back!"
After being nominated as the DPP's candidate in April 2015, Tsai led a reform-oriented campaign, vowing to change Taiwan`s development model to focus on "innovation, employment and distribution." She also promoted major political reforms while calling for stable relations with China.
"Tomorrow, the people will take back the power. Tomorrow, we will win back Taiwan," Tsai told over 100,000 supporters in a rally outside the Office of the President during pouring rain Friday evening.
Tsai made good on her promise Saturday, leading the DPP to retake the presidency and garner an unprecedented parliamentary majority.