WORDS: Simone Samuels
As KPMG’s regional managing director and a bodybuilder whose training regime and physique rivals that of professional bodybuilders, Karreem dominates in the boardroom and in the gym too but to one boy and two little girls this family man is just ‘dad’.
This humble overachiever is fuelled by the belief that there is nothing he cannot achieve and it is this very mantra that has led to his
unprecedented success at the global audit company and spurred his devotion to training. Karreem says his furious determination to give his family the best quality of life has driven his unwavering dedication to his physical wellbeing and his career goals.
The 39-year-old – who was of the youngest MD’s of a professional services firm at age 35, recalls his modest upbringing, where he once lived in a single room with his family in Tongaat, wore hand-me-down clothing and walked long distances to school.
“I came from a very poor background and those circumstances can either make or break you and that was my motivation. Although my father is the reason I am the person I am today and I admire his qualities such as his wisdom and steely determination, I didn’t want to have the same tough life that he did,” Karreem said.
Karreem, a University of KwaZulu-Natal alumni, later became the first person in his family to attain a university degree as well as a postgraduate degree in Accounting.
Karreem, who has more than 16 years of accounting, audit and advisory experience working at KPMG, climbed the ranks and secured a management role in 2002. It took him no more than two years to rise further as a senior manager.
In 2007, he attained directorship, and four years later – at only 35 years old – he secured the position as managing director of KPMG in KZN and is also currently one of the youngest members elected to KPMG’s National Policy Board.
Karreem’s thriving career also brings a high level of stressful demands and work pressures, which he refuses to succumb to. He says that the sport of bodybuilding has proven to be the ideal release from the stresses of the industry.
However, it was Karreem’s competitiveness to once again prove that he can achieve anything he sets his mind to do that led him to bodybuilding.
“I’ve been bodybuilding for the past 10 years and it has created a positive work and lifestyle balance for me but I actually started bodybuilding after I was challenged. Someone made fun of my arms, telling me they were too skinny and a year ago a friend said that I would never get a six pack or get into Men’s Health magazine,” Karreem explains.
“For me bodybuilding is crucial from a healthy living perspective; I’ve seen a lot of youngsters who neglect their physical health and it is scary that they are so easily out of breath and don’t have the energy to play with their children. I’m a kid at heart and I treasure my time with my kids, playing around in the park, hiking or swimming which are their favourites,” he says.
However, bodybuilding has become a lifestyle for Karreem, who maintains a strict eating regimen, weighing all meals and regulating all food intake and training between 9 and 12 times a week
depending on whether he is “cutting” or “bulking”.
Karreem has yet to compete in a bodybuilding competition and while it may be another notch to add to his host of achievements, he is certainly in no hurry.
However, despite catapulting to the top of his field, impressing even professional athletes with his endurance and physique, travelling to several countries while working at KPMG and having a sporty F type Jaguar as his latest toy, Karreem says his greatest achievement was becoming a husband and father.
Karreem maintains a strong sense of humility and grounds himself by never forgetting his humble roots and says this is a quality that he strongly instils in his three children.
Farouk wishes all other dads a Happy Father’s Day!