Inspirational social entrepreneur Kush Kanodia honoured by Kent

Katherine Moss

Kush Kanodia is a former Kent Business School Management Science and MBA student who left a lucrative career in merchant banking for life as a social entrepreneur, creating systemic change in major organisations including NHS England and the Premier League. In 2018 he was recognised as in the top 10 most influential BAME leaders in technology and in 2019 was named second most influential disabled person in the UK.

Kush collected an Honorary Doctorate of Science at Rochester Cathedral on 20 July 2022 for his inspirational career. Speaking of his honorary doctorate, Kush says: “To receive this recognition from University of Kent as a disability and rights champion I feel so proud and honoured. Using the knowledge and wisdom gained from my studies at Kent and the connections I made enabled me to help transform major institutions such as The Premier League and NHS England, I have wonderful memories of university life and many lifelong friends.”

In 2000, after graduating in BSc Management Science and shortly before he undertook an MBA at Kent, Kush had both his hips replaced. “I started to excel in everything, I did an MBA, got a distinction and started to receive multiple awards and accolades – I realised the pain and suffering previously had been hindering my performance.”

Kush credits the MBA as being a ‘pivotal’ moment, leading to him joining as an associate for Morgan Stanley and giving him a starting point for vision and mission. “The MBA opened my eyes to the business case for systems change for disability inclusion. Through my studies, I developed an understanding of the power of presenting this in a commercial sense, to capture interest and support.”

The collapse of Lehman Brothers had a ‘profound affect’ on Kush. Social entrepreneurship became his focus and he quit banking and set up his first charity – Choice International with the help of Kent Business School. From there on Kush took on roles including as a Transformational Change Consultant at the NHS’s Northeast London Commissioning Support Unit and in 2012, was contacted to be a torch bearer in the Paralympics for London 2012 for his dedication to disability rights and being a role model with the ability to inspire the future generation.

He was also behind the biggest change in government policy surrounding disability in recent times following his campaign against charging at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital for disabled parking. After Disability Rights UK got behind his efforts and appointed him as ambassador the campaign got woven into the manifestos of all the major parties for the 2019 general election. His latest campaign focuses upon reasonable adjustments for Disabled Londoners and exemptions for Blue Badge holders from the Ultra-Low Emission Zone but above all, he is still seeking a shift in attitudes and to make our environments accessible to us all.

Despite experiencing excruciating pain and in line for a shoulder replacement in the near future, he maintains that his disability is a positive. “My disability has helped transform the purpose of my life – it helps to keep me balanced, grounded and empathetic. By reframing my disability from a negative to a positive, Its no longer a weight holding me down, but something that actually lifts me up.”

 You can read more about Kush’s achievements on the Kent Business School blog