Ari Seirlis is the type of person you will remember for life – and it takes only a few minutes to get to know him.
To introduce Ari Seirlis, one would have to probably circulate a book about his 61years and His autobiography has just been published “Wheels of Fire”.
He matriculated at Hilton College, Studied for a short period of time at UCT and after his National Service where he was a second lieutenant in the infantry initially in the special forces and then leading a platoon of Bushmen Trackers in Angola, completed a 3yr Diploma in Marketing (IMM).
Provincial colours in a few sports and just after having completed the Comrades Marathon in 1985, he broke his neck in a diving accident, whilst modelling for a TV commercial in Durban at the age of 23 and this rendered him quadriplegic.
After 6 months of Rehabilitation, he chose Entrepreneurship as an avenue of becoming economically active. A clothing manufacturing business that exported, a signage company, a frozen yoghurt franchise, a bakery and more ventures that are interesting, saw him being one of three finalists in the Durban Chamber of Commerce “Businessman of the Year”.
Ari was the CEO of the QuadPara Association of South Africa for 20 years, leading their Strategic Plan “developing the full potential of quadriplegics and paraplegics”.
His unique strategy, management style and partnership building skills have seen the organisation grow serving it’s thousands of members with interesting and meaningful projects.
He made the most profound impact in his advocacy and lobbying expertise having partnered with OUTA to stop the E-TOLLS in Gauteng, ensured safety in schoolboy rugby by taking on SARU, make sure that all stadia and services at the 2010 World Cup tournament were accessible for people with disabilities and insured universal design and access was implemented.
QASA is now a leading NPO in the disability sector as a result of his leadership and his lobby & advocacy efforts have made him famous for his moral courage.
In 2015, he Graduated as top student and Cum Laude on the Social Entrepreneurship Programme (SEP) at the Gordon Institute of Business Science (Gibs).
Along the way he has travelled all over the world, rode an adapted Yamaha quad bike more than 20,000 km off road all over SA, bungee jumped, scuba dived, water skied, painted in acrylic, hand cycled the NYM twice, have completed 185 Park Runs, learnt to play a musical instrument, been on a reality show, got married and divorced and is back on placid waters fly fishing again.
He has had a tiff with FW, had lunch with Mandela, smoked a cigar with Mbeki, danced late into the night with Zuma at a party, got stabbed in the back as a Member of Parliament by Patricia Delille, drank whiskey with John McEnroe, had some laughs and told some jokes with Robin Williams, been on the red carpet with Kim Cattral (Sex in the City), attended a dinner with Travolta, had a front row seat at a Wimbledon final and most interestingly, spent much time with the late Christopher Reeve (Superman) at his home in New York.
His friendship with the late Christopher Reeve was acknowledged internationally and his relationship building skills are legendary.
He retired from QASA and now consults in small business development, sustainability, disability and business strategy. He also presently advises the President on disability.
He is a renowned public speaker, has influenced many an audience on embracing change, diversity, business strategy and sustainability. His repertoire is not “yes you can because I can”, but far more effective by using analogies from his experience to show that opportunities and success are possible.