A banker by profession and a prominent educationalist
in the U.A.E., Raj has over 42 years of international experience in
India and UAE across banking & finance, education, hospitality and
healthcare. He founded Athena in 2015 by the first acquisition of
Grammar School in Dubai. Within a short span of 5 years, Raj was able to
build a portfolio of 9 profitable K-12 schools in the U.A.E with a
vision to increase this number to 25 schools in the Middle East and
select countries in African continent by the end of 2026.
In March 2021, Raj has been appointed as the Chairman
of Athena and in that capacity provides overall business strategy and
leadership to the board of directors of Athena.
While being an astute businessman who is focused on
providing high quality education and healthcare services for the common
man at an affordable cost , Raj has been a philanthropist as well. He is
a meditator and a motivational speaker. Raj has created specific
educational models by blending international standard curriculum with
strong cultural and ethical values, for preparing children of Athena
group schools for tomorrow's world. He conducts continuous research on
learning methods through the Athena Education Research Centre in Dubai.
Raj holds a M.A. degree in Economics from the University of Kerala, India.
C.N. Radhakrishnan Chief Executive Officer
Mr. Radhakrishnan has over 40 years of varied
experience working in a variety of organizations in aircraft
manufacturing, petrochemical projects, home electronics, plastics,
healthcare and education sectors across India, China, Europe and the
U.A.E. He joined the Varkey Group (the parent company who owns GEMS
Education) in Dubai in 1998 and over the 20 years that he spent in the
Education(K-12) and Healthcare (Hospitals & Clinics) Sectors,
Mr.Radha held several senior management positions in VG's Education
Business (GEMS Education) and its Healthcare Business. From 2010 till he
retired in 2018, Mr.Radha was the Senior Executive Director, a member
of the Board of Directors and the Head of Group Chairman's Office, GEMS
Education, Dubai. Post his retirement from GEMS in Dec 2018, he
co-founded "Storiyoh" which is a digital media start-up company
registered in DMCC with its initial focus in the Indian and Middle
Eastern markets for non-music audio podcasts.
A versatile and results orientated business leader
with proven success in building, enabling and managing a broad range of
businesses across multiple geographies, Mr.Radha is highly valued as
someone who provides commercial insights to businesses and who can
manage multiple stakeholders across functional areas. Mr.Radha is an
accomplished Board Member having sat on numerous multi-disciplinary
committees and boards with an eye for the detail, encouraging discussion
and enabling constructive challenge with a view to make optimizing
Mr.Radha has a BSc in Physics (University of
Kerala), MBA in Finance & Systems (XLRI Jamshedpur) and a Post
Graduate Diploma in Computer Science (University of Pune). An alumnus of
INSEAD Fontainebleau, Mr.Radha was awarded the Certificate in Corporate
Governance in October 2015, and hence he is a certified 'INSEAD IDP-C'.
Sasikala Raj Chief Operating Officer
Sasikala Raj started her career in the education
sector with Athena acquiring the Grammar School in 2015 and since then
she has been at the forefront of operations and administration of
Athena's school portfolio.
Prior to her foray into education sector, Sasikala
has been a bank professional for 27 years in India and U.A.E. having
served with the State Bank of India and Emirates NBD. The last 5 years
of her tenure with Emirates NBD was in the position of branch operations
In March 2021, Sasikala has been appointed as the
Chief Operating Officer of Athena and in that capacity, she leads all
the operational aspects of Athena's school portfolio.
Sasikala holds a post graduate degree in commerce specializing in Accountancy and Finance from University of Kerala, India.
Umesh Pradhan Chief Financial Officer
Umesh Pradhan joined Athena as Chief Financial
Officer in October 2020. Umesh has over 30 years of business experience
of working with Manufacturing, Media and Education sectors in India.
Prior to joining Athena, Umesh worked for 7 years as a
Chief Financial Officer, with one of India's listed Education
Companies, 'Zee Learn Limited'. In his previous roles, he held senior
management responsibilities with Turner General Entertainment Networks
India Pvt. Ltd (Time Warner Group), Reliance Big Broadcasting Pvt. Ltd,
Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited, J. K. Helene Curtis Ltd (a
Raymond Group Company), Guest Kean Williams, Cadbury India Ltd and Unit
Trust of India. In 2016, he was awarded as '100 Most Influential CFOs
of India' by CIMA.
Umesh has extensive experience in the fields of
strategic and financial planning, mergers and acquisitions, fund
raising, investor relationships, credit & risk management, statutory
compliances, designing internal control mechanism, treasury and working
capital management, handling audit, accounts & reporting.
Umesh holds a bachelor's degree in commerce from
Mumbai University and is a qualified Cost Accountant from Institute of
Cost and Works Accountants of India (ICAI-CMA).
Hugh MacPherson Independent Director
Hugh MacPherson is an education leader with a proven
track record within the private international school sector, meeting the
expectations and aspirations of multiple and diverse stakeholders
including investors, parents and school personnel. He thrives on the
opportunity to be the "outward face" for business improvement, growth
and development. During a career spanning four decades, Hugh held senior
executive roles with a number of school operators including Nord
Anglia, GEMS and WCL and managed successful education businesses in
Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, Eastern Europe, and
locations in UK and USA. Additionally, Hugh was the founding partner in a
fund focused on the acquisition and operation of K-12 international
schools in the GCC.
His most relevant experience relates to extensive
engagement in the successful sale of a highly attractive equity owned
education business, development of an acquisition pipeline in the K-12
sector and supporting new investors and existing operators to identify
and enter new markets.
Hugh Macpherson holds a Master of Education degree
from University of Liverpool and a bachelor's of arts degree from The
Open University. He has also acquired Certificate in Education from
University of Warwick and Licentiate of the college of preceptors from
Royal College of Preceptors London.
Aakash Moondhra Independent Director
Aakash brings with him 25+ years of unique, diverse
and global experience. He is currently Global CFO of PayU
(Naspers/Prosus Fintech Business) for the last four years, covering 20+
countries. Prior to joining PayU, he was the CFO of Snapdeal, and had
contributed immensely in the 100X growth (2012-2015) of Snapdeal, with
$1Billion+ fund raise in multiple rounds and bridge financings.
PayU has grown 4 times in the last 5 years, and the
payments business has turned around from hugely loss making to
profitable. At PayU, besides being the CFO, he is a part of the core
team that is shaping Naspers Fintech Strategy through organic and
inorganic expansion in high-growth markets ranging from India to Central
Eastern Europe to Latin America. He has played a key role in deploying
~$1 billion+ through acquisitions (Citrus, Wibmo, Red Dot, Iyzico, Zooz,
Paysense) and investments (Zest Money, Creditas, Remitly, Fisdom,
Bakkt, Libra), in 30+ transactions.
He is on the Board of V-Mart Retail Limited as an
Independent Director and Chairman of Audit Committee for the last 11
years (from PE investment into the Company to the Company going public),
and has contributed significantly in the 15X growth in the value of the
business as a Board member. He is on multiple other Boards.
Academically he is a Chartered Accountant and Company Secretary
(All India Ranks in all exams), an MBA from Southern Methodist
University, Dallas, USA with Beta Gamma Sigma, has completed a Advanced
Strategic Management Course from University of Michigan Business School,
and was a part of the Financial Leadership Program at AT&T. He has
won the CFO Roll of Honor award for the year 2014 and 2015, given by
the CFO Institute. He completed the International Directors Program –
Certified (IDP-C) from INSEAD on Corporate Governance.
PO Box 35067, Saraya Avenue Building, Block B, M-Floor,
Office BM02 Al Garhoud, Dubai, UAE