Meet the Team

Meet the Team

Gabbitas Education is one of the most esteemed and respected educational consultancies in the world. Meet the team in the Middle East who can provide un-biased and expert advice on your school and university search requirements.

Fiona McKenzie – Director

meet the team fiona mckenzie gabbitas middle east director

Fiona, educated at Rugby School and St Andrew’s University, is the Head of our Middle East office.

Her experience of working in leading independent schools such as Rugby School and Milton Abbey, overseas in South Africa and Australia and her background as an educationalist enables her to offer you an expert school placement service.

In addition, her knowledge of university applications allows her to deliver un-biased and tailored careers advice and guidance for your child.

Fiona understands parents’ concerns and worries having educated her own four children in some of the most prestigious independent schools and universities.


Fiona regularly contributes as an expert voice in the media. You can find links to her recent articles and radio broadcasts below:

Drive Live Talks Education with Fiona McKenzie, 08.10.2017

Fiona discusses how to prepare for University with Tim Elliott

Drive Live Talks Education with Fiona McKenzie, 17.08.2017

Fiona discusses A Level results with Tim Elliott

Drive Live Talks Education with Fiona McKenzie, 20.05.2018

Fiona discusses the business of education with Ros Marshall, CEO of Taaleem, Poonam Bhojani, CEO of Innoventures Education

Absolutely Education Emirates Issue 1 2017

Featuring articles by Fiona on global learning (page 27) and the IB versus A-Level debate (page 48).

Absolutely Education Emirates Issue 2 2017

Fiona shares her top tips when teaching in the UAE (page 25) and highlights the benefits of summer camps (page 92).

Absolutely Education Emirates Issue 3 2017

Fiona discussing how to ensure young people make the right university choice (page 62) and sheds lights on educational acronyms (page 82).

See more articles for Absolutely Education Emirates here.


Sophie Oakes – Consultant

meet the team sophie oakes consultant gabbitasSophie has a wide knowledge of mainstream and alternative education systems and is particularly interested in new developmental approaches to education.

Sophie has extensive experience of researching schools, academic standards and of matching children to the right learning environment.

She possesses a comprehensive knowledge of Nursery and Junior Schools in Dubai and Prep Schools in the UK.

Sophie has two children who have both been educated in the UK and Dubai.


Sophie regularly writes for leading publications on nursery and primary topics. Her most recent articles can be found below:

Absolutely Education Emirates Issue 1 2017

Sophie gives her advice on making the right school choice for your child (page 32).

Absolutely Education Emirates Issue 2 2017

Read Sophie’s review of Dubai’s famous ski park.

Absolutely Education Emirates Issue 3 2017

Sophie addresses the debate as to whether school or nursery is the best place for a child of three (page 33).


Maggie Baxter – Consultant

Maggie graduated in Canada with a BA in Middle Eastern History, a BEd in Curriculum & Instruction, and recently a MEd in Educational Leadership.

After 8 years of outstanding international teaching & middle-leader roles in the UK, Ukraine and the UAE, across many subjects such as maths, history & english, she is furthering her passion for education in another field: consulting.

With experience in the American & British Curriculums, and developing inquiry based inclusive curriculum across multiple age-groups, Maggie brings her diverse classroom and cultural expertise to our early years & SEN consulting role.

Speak to Maggie with her comprehensive knowledge of Nursery and Junior Schools in Dubai about which curriculum, school, and educational environment will help your child thrive.



Shelly Man – Office Manager

meet the team shelly man office manager gabbitas

Shelly will respond to your enquiries and direct these to the most appropriate consultant.

You will communicate with Shelly frequently as she will correspond with institutions, complete registrations and arrange visits on your behalf.

Her established relationships with admissions teams across the globe ensure a seamless experience with Gabbitas.

Shelly is a graduate from the University of Birmingham.





Sara Boomsma – Business Development & Marketing Manager

meet the team Sara Boomsma headshot gabbitas

After graduating from the University of Cambridge, Sara joined Optimus Education in London. There she headed up the Conferences team and developed her in-depth knowledge of the UK education sector.

Joining Gabbitas Middle East in 2017, she brings a strong background in market research and is passionate about improving outcomes for children and young people.

Having attended schools in Dubai and the Netherlands before settling in the UK, Sara brings first-hand experience of what it is like attending schools abroad.

You can find Sara on twitter at @saraboomsma.



Hiwot Ayele – Office Manager

Hiwot works closely with our Director and consultants in providing essential services and oversees the running and operation of the Dubai office.

Hiwot loves sports, foreign languages and is passionate about learning about the different education systems in the world.



What Our Clients Say

Choosing Gabbitas has been the best decision. The team have been nothing but brilliant in helping my son acquire a place at university in his chosen degree of study. The investment was worth every penny!

Hitesh, Dubai