The Team

Meet the team behind Global University Systems


The senior leadership team at Global University Systems is comprised of individuals who have excelled in academia and industry, bringing together years of invaluable experience and knowledge, allowing us to seamlessly blend innovation and entrepreneurship with academic rigour and quality.

Aaron EtingenChief Executive Officer

Aaron Etingen is the CEO of Global University Systems. He leads a team of over 2,000 employees, ensuring that innovation, creativity and a strong commitment to high standards are embedded across the group. With a background in the finance and banking sectors and strong management credentials, he led GUS from a small business school with four students to a global organisation with 85,000 students, alumni from over 150 countries and a growing presence worldwide. His leadership is one of the key reasons behind the success of the company.

Gary NarunskyGroup Chief Financial Officer

Gary holds a variety of appointments within GUS portfolio companies; Executive Chairman for GUS Canada, Head of the GUS Investment Committee and Board Observer of Arden University. Prior to GUS, Gary was the CFO and Partner of Grovepoint, an investment firm which operated as Principal Investor and Investment Manager. He also helped found and spent a decade as the CFO of global education group, Cognita. Gary has an MBA from London Business School and was previously a Vice President at Merrill Lynch. Gary is a qualified Chartered Accountant (South Africa). Gary also serves as Vice Chairman and Honorary Treasurer of AMBA. 

Professor Maurits van RooijenChief Academic Officer

Professor Maurits van Rooijen is the Chief Academic Officer (CAO) of GUS and Rector of the University of Europe for Applied Sciences, Germany. In addition to these roles, he is the Board Chair for IBAT College Dublin, Ireland and GISMA, Germany. He was awarded the Constance Meldrum prize for Vision and Leadership from the European Association for International Education (EAIE) and the Insignia d’Ouro of the Universidad Santiago de Compostela.

Max EtingenVice President International

Max joined the group in 2008. He holds a Bachelor degree from the Schulich School of Business at York University, Canada, and has lived in Canada, Hong Kong, Russia and Israel before moving to the UK. Max sits on the boards of numerous institutions including the University of Europe for Applied Sciences, GISMA Business School, LSBF Singapore, University Canada West and Toronto School of Management. Max’s area of expertise is in international strategy, international student recruitment, branding, marketing and digital transformation.

Elad RachevskyVice President of Corporate Development and Capital Markets

Elad Rachevsky leads our corporate finance and acquisition activities. With more than 10 years of experience in corporate finance, including capital markets and M&A transactions, Elad previously worked in a boutique financial advisory firm and as an investment banker at Citigroup within the Financial Sponsors team. Elad is a Magna Cum Laude graduate from Macalester College with a double major in Mathematics and Economics.

Sitora AzimovaGroup Operations Director

Sitora Azimova has over 15 years of experience in managing B2B commercial operations, both in the UK and internationally. Sitora has been with the group since its inception and has been instrumental in business transformation, expansion into new markets, and leads the integration of GUS shared services. Prior to working at GUS, Sitora worked extensively in the field of international executive recruitment.


Professor Philip WilsonGroup Chief Executive (Academic) of Colleges Division, Europe

Professor Philip Wilson's successful career spans over many decades in Academia and business leadership, delivering sustained shareholder value. Prior to GUS, he was a Founder and Provost & Chief Executive at UCFB, a world leading private higher-education institution, with three UK campuses and international locations, as well as leading on the global restructure of Conde Nast education business, as Global Chief Executive. He is a Trustee at Burnley Football Club, a previous Chair of a Paralympic governing body and Chair of Independent HE. Philip sits on the Board of the Quality Assurance Agency and Advisory Committee of Degree Awarding Powers. He holds an MBA from University of Liverpool.

Nitin GuptaPortfolio Co-Managing Director, Colleges Division, Europe

Nitin has 16 years of experience in the higher education industry. He is a strong business development professional and holds an MBA and Master of Philosophy (MPhil), focused on International Business. Nitin specialise in negotiation, business planning, customer service and coaching. 

Professor Andrea NollentVice-Chancellor and CEO of The University of Law

Andrea Nollent was appointed Vice-Chancellor of The University of Law in 2012, becoming CEO in 2016. She previously held academic and senior leadership positions at Sheffield Hallam University and Nottingham Trent University. Andrea has extensive experience in professional course development across a range of disciplines and has also designed and delivered dual qualifying law degrees and legal professional training. Other achievements include working as a Visiting Professor of Fundamental Human Rights at the University of Paris-Est.


Daniel BolzCEO of GUS Germany

As Chief Executive Officer for GUS Germany, responsible for GISMA, BSBI, University of Applied Sciences Europe and HTK Academy. Prior to joining GUS, Daniel was the Group Director of Corporate Development at SIG plc based in London, a FTSE 250 company with sales of £2.7bn and 9,000 employees, where he served in various leadership positions and was responsible for group strategy, mergers & acquisitions as well as general management of different business units.

Dr Sky ZhengCEO of InterActive Pro

Dr Sky Zheng is CEO of Interactive Pro, one of UK’s leading online programme management (OPM) companies to help higher education institutions and industry partners launch online education programmes. Sky joined GUS in 2017 as Managing Director of  Transnational Education (TNE). Sky has over 13 years' experience in international higher education and has held a number of senior international  roles in public universities in the UK. In 2011, Sky and his team won the prestigious Times Higher Education award for Outstanding International Strategy. He received his PhD in Cross-Cultural Communication and International Education from Birkbeck, University of London.

Vitaly KlopotChief Commercial Officer at Arden University

Vitaly Klopot is Chief Commercial Officer at Arden University where he oversees the objectives and implementations of all commercial strategies. He has over a decade worth of experience in higher education with specialisations in online learning, digital transformation and international marketing in the education technology field. Before his role at Arden university, Vitaly was Chief Operating Officer or InterActive Pro, where he started out as Managing Director. InterActive Pro creates delivery methods for online education with a focus on new ed-tech solutions. Whilst at Interactive Pro, Vitaly grew the team from 30 to 250 people and partnered with over 20 higher education institutions.

Vitaly also sits on the board of Dignity Health Global Education, a workforce accelerator.In addition to his career in education, Vitaly also mentors and advises start-ups in the Data, Search, Analytics and Education space. Vitaly speaks fluent Hebrew and Russian.

Sagi Hartov Co-founder and Chairman of BSBI and LCCA

Sagi Hartov joined GUS in 2011 and is also Principal of Creative Arts for GUS. As a professional international cellist who recorded and appeared on BBC1, BBC4, Universal Records, he was the founder of the Ernest Bloch international classical competition. Since 2010, Sagi has been a member of the London Mozart Trio. Sagi’s outstanding talent has been rewarded by lifetime loans of both a Maucotel 1849 cello, as well as a Silvestre et Maucotel, (Paris 1912). Following his position as the cultural Attaché in London, England 2004-6, Sagi was the director of Spiro Ark Tzavta centre where he created over 100 events a year including for the London mayors

Karina KizhnerManaging Director of LSBF

Karina is responsible for Strategy, Partnerships, Operations and P&L. She holds a Master’s degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science and a Graduate Diploma in Law from the University of Law. She has over 13 years’ experience building and launching academic partnerships with UK Universities, such as University of Bradford, Brunel University London, University of Central Lancashire and private entities, such as The Times. Karina embarked on her Higher Education career as a lecturer.

Dr Kate ArmstrongHead of College at LCCA

Dr Kate Armstrong holds a PhD in consumer values and the consumption of complementary medicine. As well as holding leadership academic positions, she is the founder and Chair of the Fashion Marketing Consumption & Discourse (FMCD) research network and is Founder and Director of the Imagination Research Lab at the Institute of Imagination, a charity that focuses on enriching lives through creative education, to which she remains linked on a pro bono basis. Dr Armstrong’s industry experience as a research and brand consultant within the creative industries on projects for Tate and the Southbank Centre have informed her career and research.


Joe GoreyPrincipal of IBAT

Joe manages all academic functions in the college, including Higher Education, Professional Diplomas, and the Largest English Language School in Ireland. The point of contact for all accrediting bodies and Business groups. Responsible for the QA for the College and the adherence to all relevant legislation. Prior to IBAT, Joe worked at Intel for 15 years, firstly in Production Management with a staff of 45 responsible for daily and weekly planning and targets, staff management and appraisal and for the last 5 years in HR managing the relocation of senior staff around the world.


Ehsan SafdariManaging Director of GUS Canada Colleges Division

Ehsan holds an MSc in Computer Network & Architectures from Iran University of Science and Technology (IUST) and an MBA from the University of Kent. Currently, Ehsan is the Managing Director of GUS Canada Colleges, including TSoM, CCTB, Trebas Institute and The Language Gallery. As Managing Director, Ehsan oversees a team of various operational staff and departments. Ehsan has an extensive Business and Technology background with more than 10 years’ experience in leading and growing all departments of an educational institution to make it a dynamic and progressive organization. Ehsan is a member of the Board of Career Colleges of Ontario.

Steve RodgerChief Executive Officer of R3

Steve Rodger is the CEO of R3. He is responsible for providing strategic direction and general oversight to R3. Prior to founding R3, he led various other businesses, including Cushcraft Corporation and Diamond Communications, in a similar capacity. Steven is also Founder of Equinox Capital, a private equity firm based in Greenwich, CT and holds a BA from the University of Virginia and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Deborah HayesPrincipal of St Patrick's College

Deborah has gained 25 years of experience in Higher Education in Public and Private Sector institutions (GSM London, University of Greenwich, University of the Arts London). She also worked in advertising, design and public relations for 12 years. Deborah also has a track record of academic publications and founded the Creative Industries Journal.

Lars van der Leeuw-HoltvoethChief Operating Officer of GUS Germany

As COO, Lars is responsible for UE, GGG, HTK, BSBI and GISMA on all shared services issues, leading the IT legal department and is also a member of the board of governors for GGG. Lars is responsible for the compliant procedure, university development plans and Quality Assurance throughout the German eco-system of GUS. He started at UE as a student in 2004 and worked his way up to CO. Lars holds a Master‘s degree in Corporate Management and Former Chancellor of the University of Europe.

Professor Ashraf Jawaid OBECEO of International and Partnerships

Professor Ashraf Jawaid is responsible for developing international partnerships for the Group and leads the development of Transnational Education and Partnerships for Arden University. Professor Jawaid completed his Master’s in Production Management from Birmingham University in 1979. In 1982, he completed his PhD from the University of Warwick and then worked at Warwick University for 12 years in various positions. His previous position was at the University of Bedfordshire as Deputy Vice Chancellor where he was responsible for Home, EU and International Recruitment.  As DVC he also looked after the Home and International Partnerships of the University. 

Prior to that, he was appointed as Associate Dean of Engineering at Coventry University, where he stayed for 15 years, firstly as Associate Dean and then as the Dean of the School of Engineering. He was responsible for the International Affairs and the Graduate Culture for the University, doubling international income in three years. In 2012, Professor Ashraf was appointed as the Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) by her Majesty the Queen in her Birthday 2012 Honours List for contribution to Higher Education.

Valery KisilevskyGroup Managing Director

Valery Kisilevsky is Group Managing Director of GUS. Valery has a BA (Hons) in Political Science, Ethics, Law and Economics from the University of Toronto, MSc International Political Economy from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), and is a Graduate Diploma in Law from the College of Law of England and Wales. He works closely with Aaron Etingen to develop GUS' creative, driven and energetic corporate culture.

Fabrizio GuccioneDeputy CEO

As the Deputy CEO of GUS, Fabrizio works with all senior management across the business, focusing on continued growth as GUS strengthens its leadership and commercial competencies. Previously, Fabrizio acted as COO and CEO at Laureate International Universities, operating globally. Prior to that, he worked at Colgate-Palmolive in various senior marketing and sales roles, including VP of Customer Development for Canada and General Manager for Spain. His unique experience enables him to lead diverse, multicultural teams driving business results and implementing organisational change. Fabrizio is fluent in Italian, Spanish and English.



Graeme SimpsonChief Marketing Officer

Graeme Simpson has more than 12 years of experience in digital marketing. He previously aided investment specialists ADVFN, as their Head of Global Marketing, to grow from a UK-only operation to a multinational working across 16 countries. His expertise helps him to manage a marketing budget of £10 million per year at GUS. Such sizeable marketing budgets are just one resource that Graeme and his team can offer to educational institutions seeking to extend their global reach. 

Anton ZakharovChief of Staff

Anton has over 26 years of experience in Human Resources and Business Development, across many diverse industries including FMCG, Oil and Gas, Banking and Management Consulting sectors and Higher Education. His exposure to international growth projects in Europe, India and the Philippines has given him an understanding of how the best companies are ran. He is passionate about ensuring high quality, cost-effective and timely delivery of business objectives by the Executive Team and CEO’s direct reports. Anton is responsible for BPO projects and post-acquisition integration.  He is also a passionate mentor and team leader.

Alona LigayGroup General Counsel

Alona Ligay is Group General Counsel. Alona joined GUS in 2013 and holds an LLB from Osgoode Hall Law School of York University, Toronto. She is admitted as a solicitor in Ontario, Canada and England and Wales. Alona trained with Baker McKenzie before moving to London from Canada to join the Capital Markets practice at Clifford Chance. Following this, Alona joined Withers in the Banking and Corporate practice before joining GUS. Alona leads the group's legal function, which covers legal and corporate governance matters and advises the Board and executive management team on various strategic, operational, regulatory and risk issues.

Miguel BlazquezChief Technology Officer

Miguel Blazquez is the Chief  Technology Officer of GUS. With over eight years of experience leading the technology function in Higher Education, he facilitates business operation optimization, increases business effectiveness and leads digital transformation. Previously, Miguel was responsible for the technological organization in Laureate International Universities for the EMEA region. Prior to GUS, he worked in Merk & Co, in several executive IT positions including the Global Head of Manufacturing Systems, Regional Commercial and Analytics Platforms Leader.

Boaz ArbelPortfolio Co-Managing Director, Colleges Division, Europe

Boaz Arbel is the Co-Managing Director of the Colleges Division which includes multiple brands in the UK, Ireland, Netherland, and Germany. Boaz joined GUS in 2016 with over 10 years’ experience in the education sector and over 20 years’ experience managing businesses and transforming businesses through increased sales, operational efficiencies, and high profits. 



Rob ForbesCommunications and PR Director

Rob joined GUS in 2013. He manages the Communications Team and works with agencies to promote and protect GUS and its portfolio companies’ image. Rob works closely with the Executive Chairman and colleagues across the C-suite. Leading the PR function, he has delivered employee relations and PR campaigns, whilst ensuring the SEO, Social Media, Copy and digital strategies are aligned. Aside from digital communications, Rob works on employee branding, internal relations, crisis and change management, student journey activity and sponsorship activation. Prior to GUS, Rob worked for FNZ, Octopus Investments, was lead spokesperson for Currys/ PC World and ran his own PR agency.

Cyndi McLeodCEO of GUS Canada

Cyndi McLeod is an award-winning education executive with over 30 years of leadership experience in the international arena. Cyndi joined Global University Systems as CEO in Canada with the responsibility for the group's expansion and operations in the country, which includes University Canada West, The Language Gallery and the Toronto School of Management. Cyndi’s expertise lies in building strategic business and educational connections that result in growth and expansion in the institutions she has been involved in. She has led the way for numerous joint ventures between education entities in Canada, Asia, Middle East, Latin America and Europe



Sharad MehraCEO of GUS Asia Pacific

Sharad Mehra is CEO of GUS Asia Pacific. Sharad is a corporate strategist, thought leader and futurist. He is passionate about transformative education and has 24 years of professional experience in diverse industries. His previous roles include CEO, Laureate Education India. Prior to this, Sharad served as Laureate’s Chief Executive Officer for South Africa, where he turned around operations in less than a year.

Professor Carl LygoCEO and Vice chancellor of Arden

Carl Lygo, Professor of Law and Barrister, is Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive Officer of Arden, and also Chairman of the University of Applied Sciences Europe. As well as being the former group CEO of BPP Professional Education Group, he also founded BPP University & Turner Schools Group and he is Director of Higher Education Regulators Ofs & HEFCE. Professor Lygo was voted one of the Top 50 Most Influential people in UK Higher Education and, Hot 100 lawyers. In 2018, he won Lifetime Achievement Award  by Education Investor Magazine and Association of Colleges Global Medal Winner.


Paddy OsbornManaging Director of LAT

Paddy Osborn is Academic Dean and Managing Director of the London Academy of Trading and a visiting lecturer at Cass Business School, as well as a market analyst and trader. Paddy is an accomplished Financial Markets Trader & Analyst, Sales Director, Academic Dean and University Lecturer with over 30 years of financial market experience. He is also a skilled public speaker on Financial Markets Trading, Technical Analysis, Foreign Exchange, Trading Psychology and Hedge Funds, providing seminars to international banks, brokers, fund managers and private traders.

Shashi JaligamaManaging Director of GUS Education India

Having won multiple awards, Shashi Jaligama is a seasoned marketing professional who has explored the breadths and depths of digital marketing across an assortment of different businesses in his 18 years of experience. His forte has been the education sector for the past 8 years now. He spent almost a decade working in the UK within leadership roles, before returning to his roots in India and building the coveted brand – GUS Education India at Hyderabad.

From his stint as the Head of Affiliates at London School of Business & Finance (LSBF) to being the Managing Director at GUS Education India, Shashi currently leads a team of over 1,000 employees and believes in showcasing strong commitment to ethical and professional values across the organisation. He has an integrated and holistic approach towards the functioning of business and aspires for consistent growth across all functions whilst maintaining a high quality of output. He is a passionate leader who strives to promote academia, growth and innovation.

Rathakrishnan GovindCEO of LSBF Singapore

Prior to leading LSBF Singapore, Rathakrishnan held senior management positions at the Singapore Youth Olympic Games Organising Committee, as well as the Really Fun Connection, a documentary production company. His most distinguished career achievement was with the Singaporean Armed Forces, where he held the position of Senior Special Forces Officer from 1984 to 1998. He was involved in a number of high-profile anti-terrorist operations, as well as humanitarian and rescue missions in various countries.

Ilana ErlikhExecutive Director of GISMA

Ilana Erlikh is Executive Director of GISMA. Prior to assuming her current role, Ilana served as the Global Group Director of Operations and Business Development at GUS. Ilana is also a qualified accountant who holds an MBA in International Business.

Brock Dykeman President and Vice Chancellor of University Canada West

Brock holds 30 years of experience in both the public and private post-secondary education sector, including roles as faculty member, MBA Director and Vice-President Academic. Brock is a Chartered Accountant and holds a MSc from the University of Saskatchewan.

Boris PoludoHead of Faculty, CCTB

Boris is a seasoned IT consultant with nearly 25 years of experience in leading, coordinating and managing software development projects. Boris develops and implements planning processes, project plans and creates strategies for industry-leading organisations in education, telecommunications, health care, government agencies and crown-controlled corporations. Boris has been training technology students, corporate employees and IT professionals in concept, methodology and practical application of state-of-the-art technologies since 2004. Boris has earned the reputation of a talented mentor and educator, applying his unique training methodology for rapid learning results and driving both individual IT professionals as well as project teams to eminent success.


Louisa TanziPresident of Trebas Institute

Luisa Tanzi is a McGill University graduate and CGA. For over 20 years Luisa has been responsible for seamlessly managing all operations for the Montreal and Toronto Campus, while ensuring exceptional educational standards. In addition to her role at Trebas, she is a board member for the Association des colleges privés non subventionnés (ACPNS) as well as Career Colleges Ontario (CCO) where she is currently serving in the capacity as of Treasurer.

Professor Stefan SteinRector of GISMA

Professor Dr. Stefan Stein is the President of GISMA as well as a member of the Board of Governors for the University of Europe for Applied Sciences. Professor Dr. Stefan Stein was previously the Rector of the University of Europe for Applied Sciences and has held various positions within the university as Professor of Finance and Asset Management, Pro-Rector for teaching and founding Dean of the Department of Economics. His expertise spans studies of various federal ministries, banks and insurance companies. He holds a doctorate in economics and was Managing Director of the renowned Institute for Banking and Finance, ikf°, at the Ruhr University Bochum for more than 13 years. He is a member of the supervisory board of the consulting firm Moore Stephens Naust AG. He is also a member of the university council at Shanghai Polytechnic University.

Anthony KeffelHead of Academy at HTK Academy

Anthony Keffel started directly in the digital industry after his studies and founded his own digital media agency, in the late 90s. He then began to gain experience as a Lecturer in the field of Communication Design. After selling his agency in 2003, he switched to the private education sector and has been shaping the image of the HTK Academy for over 20 years. Under his responsibility, he has shaped HTK into an award-winning academy with globally successful graduates and a clear digital and innovative focus. New programs such as Game Creation and Illustration Design have been successfully launched in recent years, followed by cooperations with universities in the GUS network. When time permits, he still teaches Infographic & Game Design, and he also produces electronic music and develops mobile games privately.