VNP Raj

VNP Raj

Promoter, Managing Director and CEO

Mr. VNP Raj is an Indian national and a resident of Dubai for more than 25 years. A banker by profession and a prominent educationist in UAE, Mr. Raj has over 33 years of international experience in India and UAE across banking & finance, education and healthcare. He is also the founder managing director of a management consulting firm that is at the forefront of financial services, providing management solutions to businesses in the UAE.
As a businessman, he has been a philanthropist focused on providing, high quality education and healthcare for the common citizen at an affordable cost.  
His passion in Education has led him to acquire schools in the UAE and startup schools and nurseries in India in his personal capacity.  In a short span of less than 2 years, the number of schools and nurseries under his care has moved from 0 to 7, with the vision to take up this number to 20 in the foreseeable future.  Being an educational visionary, a meditator and motivational speaker, he has created specific models of education focused on preparing children of group schools who are ready for the ever-transforming global world in the years to come.

Sasikala Raj

Deputy Managing Director

Mrs. Raj is a through bred banking professional, with 25 years of banking experience in India and UAE. She has been at the forefront on the Operations and administration of the schools and nursery education. Earlier for last 13 years she performed varied operational roles with Emirates ENBD. Prior to that, she worked in banking operations of State Bank of India for 10 years. Additionally, she heads HR Function of the entire group, leading all HR professionals on balanced policy formulation and implementation. She plays a critical role in the acquisition of schools, evaluating options from the prospective of financial soundness, human resources and external evaluation tracking of the schools, done by the external authorities.

Sasikala Raj
Harsh Sinha

Harsh Sinha

Group Executive Director & Board Member – Promoting quality Learning

Mr. Harsh oversees the Athena Academic Board, promoting Quality Learning.  Mr. Harsh has an MBA from XLRI, he brings his experience in education management from his time at the Shri Ram School group that has multiple campuses across India. He is responsible for the transformations done in each school in terms of infrastructure development and building capacity. He has played a key role in bringing in software and hardware systems for academic and administration efficiency. He is the main person behind all the policy development and creation of SOPs. He has also been working with education council to strengthen the academics.

Dr. S. M. Sivakumar

Director & Head of Group H R D Department

Dr. Sivakumar has a postgraduate in Engineering and a Doctorate in Finance (XLRI) with over 30 years of banking experience, he oversees the human resource department as the group head of Human Resource at Athena. With a mission of staffing for learning excellence, the Human Resource Department oversees the full spectrum of HR functions; manpower planning, talent sourcing, performance management, training and development and separation for all schools and the corporate head office.

Dr. S. M. Sivakumar
Ian McNiff

Ian McNiff

Director of Schools – Improvement of Learning

Mr. McNiff is the Director of US curriculum based schools including American International School, International Academic School, Al Wahda Private School, Al Resalah International School of Sciences, and Al Resalah American International. Mr. Ian has over 35 years of experience working for government regulating bodies and schools within the middle east as well as in the UK. He has been the director for UK schools as well as one of the largest catholic school groups in the UK. Ian has also worked in public office in the UK for various ministries, he brings a vast amount if experience and knowledge to Athena with his full profile of experience.

Kekshan Salaria,

Director of Schools : Improvement of Learning in Schools

Ms. Salaria Director of UK curriculum-based schools including Al Sadiq Islamic English, Grammar School, Oaktree Primary School, Balloon International Nursery, Suweihat Nursery and Latifa Nursery. She is expert in Child Safeguarding and is the primary liaison for UK curriculum based schools. Ms. Kekshan has been a director of schools in the UK for over 35 years. She has vast experience in managing and directing schools and also worked within the KHDA and various government agencies regarding inspection and qualities of schools.

Kekshan Salaria,
Jan Horn

Jan Horn

Group Head of Operations

Jan leads and guides Athena Operations to achieve sustainable growth and development by ensuring efficiency, productivity and profitability. As a member of the Academic Board, Jan is responsible for the overall efficiency and performance of the group and to ensure all operations support an environment that optimize teaching and learning impact for each child. In consultation with the directors, senior managers and school leadership he develops strategic plans and works with the Principals to translate these into operational projects. Jan has a lifelong commitment towards education and people development, and has more than 25 years of experience in the education sector, more than half of this time in management positions ranging from junior to senior management level.

Dr. Gihan Fradi

Group Head of Curriculum & Assessment

Dr. Fradi is responsible for coordination and development of academic curriculums across all Athena Schools. Informing schools are meeting graduation requirements as well as conducting internal and external assessments. Ensuring various standards and curriculum are being met such as Grade Level Curriculum standards and the National Agenda Education Requirements. Dr. Fradi has been working within schools for the past ten years. She brings a vast amount of information in regards to curriculum development and assessment.

Dr. Gihan Fradi
Catherine O'Farrell

Catherine O'Farrell

Group Head of Inclusion

Catherine O’Farrell is the Group Head of Inclusion across all Athena schools. Catherine has been leading inclusion internationally from Ireland to Australia, spending 8 years in the UAE. She is regularly published in educational magazines and is a director on the Dubai Inclusion Network. Catherine is passionate about removing barriers to learning to ensure that every child can reach their full potential in an inclusive, caring environment.