Leadership Team

Aparna Verma, Chief Executive Offiicer

Aparna Verma, the CEO of Scholars International Group, has committed her life to providing quality education for the youth of the UAE.

Since taking over Dubai Scholars in 1984, Ms. Verma has lived her life facing challenges, taking risks and being an outlier. She has followed her passion for endowing younger generations with the skills of grit, perseverance and confidence. This desire originates from her own personal experiences when at the age of seventeen, she was thrust into the role of the family matriarch after her parents’ untimely passing.

Ms. Verma has been the architect from operating a small local nursery to creating an educational platform delivering high quality and powerful learning experiences to nearly 3,500 children every year. Her efforts and her journey have been recognized including an acknowledgment as the Arabian Business Woman CEO of the Year.

Ms. Verma holds a BSc. degree from Georgetown University and has continued her education, attending the Principals Center at the Harvard Graduate School of Education as well as a degree from New York’s Parsons School of Design.


Kumar Verma, Chief Operating Officer

Kumar Verma is the Chief Operating Officer of Scholars International Group. He oversees the day to day operations as well as future project initiatives.

Prior to joining Scholars International Group, Mr. Verma was the President of Digital Root, Inc. a pioneering online advertising and technology company based in New York City. Mr. Verma oversaw the development of a revolutionary self-service advertising platform that enabled smaller businesses to participate in the benefits of online advertising. Affiliate divisions in Mumbai and Dubai oversaw one of India’s earlier social media networks as well as a MENA online brand network. Mr. Verma was also a founding member of the New York Angels, a globally recognized angel investment group.

Mr. Verma has acted as a mentor, judge, moderator, host and speaker. He holds a BSBA from Georgetown University as well as a leadership certificate from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.


Paul Lieblich, Executive Principal

As Executive Principal, Dr. Lieblich oversees the programming across the Scholars International Group portfolio of schools. He joined Scholars International Group after several years in China leading both the Cowin and Eton House education groups.

Dr. Lieblich has been recognized as a National Distinguished Principal by the US State Department, Office of Overseas Schools. He has held Headship positions at several leading international schools since 1995, including Lyford Cay International School, Zurich International School and the International School of Amsterdam.

Dr. Lieblich’s global recognition stems from his co-initiation and authorship of the International Schools Curriculum Project which is now the IB PYP. Dr. Lieblich has also served on the advisory council to the IB regarding the integration of IB programs and the development of IB professional development programs.

Dr. Lieblich earned a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from the University of Northern Colorado. He holds a Master’s in Diagnostic & Prescriptive Teaching from the College of William & Mary. He received a Bachelor’s in Economics from Bethany College.


Janet O’ Keeffe, Director of School Improvement

Ms. O’ Keeffe leads school improvement across Scholars International Group portfolio of schools. Prior to joining SIG, Janet was the driving force leading accrediting qualifications and growth of the Fortes schools in Dubai, as well as the chain of Jumeirah International Nurseries. She has lived and worked in Dubai for 20 years. During that time, she has taken on multiple leadership positions including Head of School, Head of School Operations and Corporate Advisor.

In her role at SIG, she works closely with senior leadership teams to ensure that our schools achieve the highest standards in each area of school life.


Shubhi Gupta, Group Finance Director

Shubhi is a senior finance professional with 17 plus years of experience in banking and consulting in UAE and India. Her areas of expertise include Corporate finance strategy, funding, capital planning, and financial risk management.

Prior to joining SIG Education, she was a partner and a co-founder of a boutique corporate finance advisory, specializing in the education sector and have consulted a number of education groups in the region. Previously, Shubhi has also worked in the Corporate Treasury with Emirates NBD where her role involved advising on hedging financial risks to large corporates in UAE.

Shubhi holds an MBA in Finance from Goa Institute of Management, India, and a Bachelor of Science in Physics from the University of Delhi.


Dileep Menon, Director of Operations

Mr. Menon, oversees operations and campus improvements across Scholars International Group portfolio of schools. Prior to his move to Dubai, he headed Indian operations for the parent company. Working closely with school leadership and administrators, he will ensure each school’s ability to meet current and future operational and facility challenges.

Dileep holds an MBA from the US and Bachelor of Engineering in Industrial Engineering from India. He brings his vast experience across several industries including education, financial services, real estate and hospitality to SIG management and operations.


Susan Simmons Whistler, Director of Communications

Ms. Whistler joined Scholars International Group as the Communications Director after a tenure at Uptown School, part of the Taleem Group, where she was the Communications and Marketing Officer.

She moved to Dubai in 2009 from Boston, Massachusetts where she was Communications Director for the Harvard University Medical School, Department of Emergency Medicine. From 1991 to 2001 Ms. Whistler held positions of Creative Director and Senior Director at the New York Times, in New York City. While at the New York Times Ms. Whistler won the prestigious NYT Publisher’s Award and the Society of News Editors Award. Ms. Whistler began her career in New York at CBS news and has worked at some of the most influential American media institutions, among them The New Yorker, U.S. News and World Report, The Atlantic Monthly Magazine, Boston Neighborhood Network and WGBH Public Broadcasting, and New York Magazine.

Ms. Whistler holds a Bachelor of Arts from Meredith College, Raleigh North Carolina Her artwork is in the collections of the North Carolina Museum of Art, Knox Albright Gallery and the Walker Art Center Collection. She studied advertising and copy writing at the School for Visual Arts in New York City.