Rehan Greeff explains that using failure and bad experiences as a springboard is essential for success.
Rehan Greeff grew up in Burgersdorp, a small town in the Eastern Cape, and studied accounting and finance at the University of Free State. He moved to Johannesburg to do his articles at Deloitte, where he obtained his CA(SA) qualification.
He added that his passion for accounting started during a job shadowing project in high school, where he got to understand what the job was all about.
While studying, Rehan faced a conundrum of differentiating between failing at something and being a failure: “When I started failing exams, I felt like I didn’t just fail an exam, but that I was now a failure,” he said.
He added that this experience taught him to use failure as a motivator in life.
“For me, this was a story of failing forward, continuing to fail, but continuing to stand up.”
Despite the challenges faced, Rehan explained that he pushed himself and managed to qualify as a CA and travel abroad with his young family.
Ambitious and ready to blaze a trail, Rehan moved to London in 2015 to work for EY in the UK, a move which turned out to be a great experience and a positive step towards his career.
As a manager in the London EY office, he has to work alongside the companies within the financial services industry’s CFO office, where he has successfully been facilitating change management projects on some of the largest multinational corporations.
Failure is not the end
Besides being a chartered accountant, Rehan is a fitness enthusiast and an unlikely ultra-marathon runner with multiple records behind his name, including a 300km route around London (49 hours) and the 700km route between the UK’s National Three Peaks (seven days and 11 hours).
Rehan’s childhood dream was to become a future Springbok player, but because of injuries, he was forced to forget his dream of having a future in the sport at a very young age.
“Between the ages of 13 and 16, I had five knee operations due to rugby injuries. Two on the left knee, and three on the right. The orthopaedic surgeons told me that I would most probably have knee replacements by the age of 30, and I should rather call it a day,” he said.
Despite the response from the doctor, Rehan’s passion for sports did not die. He refocused on track events and continued to train despite challenges, including excruciating pain and bordering on addiction to pain medication.
Run Forest Run
However, in 2017, Rehan received a miraculous healing from these debilitating knee injuries. He added that having the ability to run again gave birth to the Run Forest Run initiative, inspired by his high school nickname “Forest.”
Run Forest Run is a running community used to raise funds for the less fortunate. Apart from running himself, Rehan also trains others to challenge themselves. The team has managed to raise more than R2 million towards ‘ForAfrika’ – Africa’s largest indigenous non-governmental organisation that feeds school children and with a vision to see an Africa that thrives.
This action earned him a place as a finalist in SAICA’s Top 35 under 35 competition in 2022 – a competition that acknowledges and promotes CAs(SA) under the age of 35 who are making a remarkable difference.
For Rehan, being included as a SAICA Top 35 under 35 finalist gave him the opportunity to reflect on his journey as a CA.
“I think we neglect reflecting on our journey. Reflecting is such a powerful tool. Inspecting the growth over the years, the trajectory that you’re on, and the lessons that you’ve learned,” he said.
In September 2022, Rehan was also honoured as the Social Impact award winner at the African Achievers Awards at a prestigious event in London. In 2023, he received the Kovsie Ambassador Award from his alma mater, the University of the Free State, for the positive role he is playing in society.