Navin Valrani, W’93, GED’18, and Monica Valrani

November 19, 2018

by Karen Doss Bowman

Navin Valrani, W’93, GED’18, and his wife, Monica, believe passionately in the power of education.

“We believe that education can solve the majority of the world’s problems,” says Navin, a member of the Penn GSE Board of Overseers who graduated this year from the School’s Education Entrepreneurship program.

As CEO of engineering services at Al Shirawi Group in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Navin leads eleven companies and was named to the 2018 Construction Week Power 100 list. Monica, a certified Montessori teacher, is CEO of Ladybird Nurseries, one of the leading early years education providers in Dubai.

When Al Shirawi embarked on a venture to improve the K–12 edu­cational landscape for children in Dubai, Navin took on his additional role as CEO of Arcadia Education, in which he oversaw the opening of The Arcadia Preparatory School for elementary-age students. That undertaking brought Navin to Penn GSE to continue his own education. While he holds an MBA from London Business School in addition to his undergraduate degree from Wharton, he wanted to study entre­preneurship in the context of education and gain the academic and practical experience that would best prepare him to chart Arcadia’s future. “First and foremost, the faculty at Penn GSE are truly world-class,” says Navin. “And the program provides an excellent toolkit for educational entrepreneurs to take their respective businesses forward and create real impact in the world.”

“We believe we have a responsibility to try and make a difference in the lives of those who don’t have the kind of ac­cess to education that we had."

Navin is now developing a secondary school scheduled to open in December 2019 and a large K–12 school to be launched at a later date. He envisions expanding Arcadia’s reach beyond Dubai by estab­lishing more schools around the world, a vision that he sees as parallel to Penn GSE’s work advancing education locally, nationally, and globally. “As we build out Arcadia’s footprint, what’s most critical is this mission to provide world-class education to those who normally wouldn’t have the opportunity to get one,” he says.

Sharing a desire to expand educational access, he and Monica have chosen philanthropy as another avenue to address the barriers that many students face. At Penn GSE the couple has established the Monica and Navin Valrani Scholarship to support minority women in graduate programs. “We believe we have a responsibility to try and make a difference in the lives of those who don’t have the kind of ac­cess to education that we had,” says Navin.

To learn more about the Extraordinary Impact Campaign, visit or contact us at 215.573.6623 or

This article originally appeared in the Fall 2018 issue of The Penn GSE Magazine.

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