Sunny Varkey Age, Wife, Family, Biography & More

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Wife: Shirley Varkey
Religion: Christianity
Age: 67 Years

Sunny Varkey

Profession(s)Educationist, Entrepreneur
Physical Stats & More
Height (approx.)in centimeters- 178 cm
in meters- 1.78 m
in feet & inches- 5’ 10”
Eye ColourDark Brown
Hair ColourSalt and Pepper
Awards & Honours• Global Indian Business Award (2007)
• CEO Middle East Award in the Corporate Social Responsibility category (2007)
• Outstanding Asian Businessman of the Year (2007)
• Rajiv Gandhi Award for Eminent Educationist (2008)
• India’s fourth-highest civilian award, Padma Shri (2009)
• Public Recognition Award from the Government of Russia (2011)
• Award of Distinction by the UAE government (2011)
• Middle East Excellence CEO of the Year in the Knowledge Development and Education Partnership category (2012)
• Education Business Leader of the Year Award by Gulf Business Industry (2012)
• Honorary Doctorate by Heriot-Watt University (2012)
A picture of Sunny Varkey taken when he was receiving the Honorary degree
• Arabian Business Achievement Award (2017)
Sunny Varkey posing for a photo with his Arabian Business Achievement Award
• Entrepreneur of the Year by The Asian Awards (2018)
Personal Life
Date of BirthYear, 1957
Age (as of 2023)67 Years
BirthplaceRanni, Kerala, India
SignatureSunny Varkey's signature
NationalityNot known
School• Infant Jesus Anglo-Indian Boys’ School, Kollam, Kerala (1981)
• J. M. J. Catholic Boarding School, Mumbai
• St. Mary’s Catholic High School, Dubai
• Bembridge School, United Kingdom
• British Council, Dubai
College/UniversityHe never attended any college.
Educational Qualification(s)• He completed his O levels at St. Mary’s Catholic High School.
• He pursued his A levels for a year at Bembridge School.
• He finished his A levels at British Council.
Relationships & More
Marital StatusMarried
Wife/SpouseShirley Varkey (works in the GEMS Education)
Sunny Varkey with Shirley Varkey
ChildrenSon(s)- 2
• Jay Varkey (Group Executive Director at GEMS Education)
• Dino Varkey (CEO of GEMS Education)
Sunny Varkey with Jay Varkey and Dino Varkey
ParentsFather- K. S. Varkey (deceased; banker, educationist)
Mother- Mariamma Varkey (deceased; educationist)
A photo of Mariamma Varkey standing below her husband's portrait
SiblingsSister- Susan Mathews (educationist)
Money Factor
Net Worth (approx.)His net worth on 28 March 2023 was $3 billion.
Sunny Varkey's net worth's screenshot

Sunny Varkey

Some Lesser Known Facts About Sunny Varkey

  • Sunny Varkey is a Dubai-based businessman, philanthropist, and educationist, who was born in India. He is known for establishing the world’s largest chain of private kindergarten-to-grade-12 schools under the flagship of Global Education Management Systems (GEMS) aka GEMS Education.
  • Sunny Varkey was born into a Syrian Christian family in Kerala. [1]The Guardian
  • In 1959, aged two, Sunny moved to Dubai from India along with his parents.
  • While studying at Infant Jesus Anglo-Indian Boys’ School in Kollam, Kerala, Sunny used to work as a fruit vendor to earn extra money. Talking about it, in an interview, he said,

    I started to sell fruits on the streets in Kerala, just to make more money. I had always dreamt of becoming a businessman, since childhood it was my dream.”

  • After completing his O-level education in Dubai, Sunny was sent to the United Kingdom by his parents to pursue A-level education because back then there were very few schools in Dubai, which offered A-level education. While giving an interview, he said,

    After I passed my O levels, my parents decided to send me to the UK to complete my A levels at Bembridge College in the Isle of Wight. Many students from the UAE used to go there to complete their studies, as there was no higher education available in Dubai at the time.”

  • By the time Sunny completed his formal education, his parents had established Our Own English High School in Dubai. Sunny, however, decided to become a banker and joined the Al Shamal branch of the Standard Chartered Bank in Dubai. While talking about the reason for becoming a banker, Sunny said that he became a banker as he wanted to avoid confrontation with his parents over the ways of running the school.
  • Sunny left the bank after working there for some time as he believed that the bank paid an inadequate amount of salary. While talking about it, in an interview, he said,

    I was preparing some accounts and saw, quite by accident, that my manager, who had worked with the bank for 22 years, earned a salary of Dh6,000 a month. I was shocked, and calculated that even with subsequent payrises for maybe ten years, I would never be able to earn even Dh10,000 a month. I decided right away to quit and start my own business.”

  • In 1978, Sunny established the Chicago Maintenance Company in Dubai. He decided to give his company a western name to lure businesses and contracts from western companies working in Dubai.
  • Sunny founded a trading company named J.M.J. Trading in 1979. He named the company after the school in which he studies in Mumbai.
  • He established a hotel named Dubai Plaza in 1980 with a partner. Later, the name of the hotel was changed to Rydges Plaza Dubai.
  • In 1980, he took over the running of Our Own English High School after the Dubai Municipality temporarily shut down the school till the construction of an adequate schooling infrastructure. Upon assuming control over the functioning of the school, Sunny constructed school premises, where the classes resumed in portable cabins. He later made the director of Dubai Municipality, Qassim Sultan, the patron of the school.

    A 1980s photo of Our Own English High School

    A 1980s photo of Our Own English High School

  • Sunny established many schools in Dubai under the banner of GEMS Education, which was established in 2000.
  • Sunny bought the Sherfield School in Hampshire, United Kingdom in 2003. He went on to buy ten more schools in Northern England.
  • In 2004, Sunny, under the flagship of GEMS Education, founded schools in different parts of India and Pakistan.
  • Under his leadership, GEMS Education joined the World Economic Forum’s Global Growth Companies in June 2010.
  • In the same year, GEMS Education became a strategic partner of the Clinton Global Initiative, established by the former President of the United States Bill Clinton.
  • To provide free education to poor kids around the globe, Sunny established Varkey GEMS Foundation (now known as Varkey Foundation) in 2010. As per the charter of the foundation, the foundation will educate a hundred children for a child who enrols in a school run by GEMS Education.
  • The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) chose Sunny as its Goodwill Ambassador in 2012.

    Sunny Varkey's picture taken while he was receiving a certificate after he was appointed the UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador

    Sunny Varkey’s picture taken while he was receiving a certificate after he was appointed the UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador

  • Sunny was featured on Global Citizen Magazine’s cover page in 2012.

    Sunny Varkey's photo on the Global Citizen Magazine's cover

    Sunny Varkey’s photo on the Global Citizen Magazine’s cover

  • Since 2013, the Varkey Foundation has conducted the Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai every year.
  • When the President of Kenya visited UAE in 2014, he signed a pact with GEMS Education following which it established several schools in Nairobi.
  • The schools operating under GEMS Education provide education in International Baccalaureate (IB), Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), and Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE).
  • With the intent of providing quality education to underprivileged girls in Ghana, the Varkey Foundation started an initiative named MGCubed – Making Ghana Girls Great.
  • Over the years, the Varkey Foundation has initiated numerous educational projects in close coordination with international organisations like UNICEF, the Clinton Global Initiative, Oxfam, Pratham, Dubai Cares, and the Brookings Institution.
  • Sunny Varkey pledged $1.4 million to Kerala Aid Fund in 2018.