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Voices of Law: Interview with Sue Kukadia - Partner at Mazars

Written by: Evie Courtier
Published on: 25 Jul 2023


TotallyLegal recently interviewed Sue Kakadia - Head of Immigration (Specialist Tax) and Partner of leading international audit, tax and advisory firm Mazars. Sue brings with her over 25 years’ experience within the professional services industry, having held roles with Ernst and Young, Deloitte and BDO.

Born with spina bifida, Sue provides a transparent and honest account of how she juggles her health with her invaluable work, discussing her inspirational career to date, the challenges faced by disabled employees in the workplace, and how her role as Chair of the Disability Network, continues to champion the wellbeing of disabled employees company-wide.

How did you start your career?

“I was born with spina bifida and lived in hospital until I was a teenager. I have had over 140 operations, and was only able to stand with callipers when I reached 16 years of age, and then started to mobilise on crutches.

Going into hospital and having surgery was a big part of my life until I was at least 25 years old. Although I walked with a limp, and needed help with day to day activities, it didn't stop me going to university, getting my qualifications to practise immigration law. I also held down many part-time jobs. I struggled with mobility, and public transport – but found a way.”

Can you give us an overview of your career prior to Mazars?

“I have over 25 years working in the Immigration field, holding senior leadership positions and developing teams.

I started my career working for a very small immigration consultancy based in London, I learnt everything I could about Immigration and absolutely loved it. I then joined Deloitte as a Consultant in the UK immigration team. In September 2000, I joined BDO Stoy Hayward. I was presented with a challenging opportunity to build an immigration team from scratch, I was there for 5 years, and then moved to a law firm; Bates Wells and Braithwaite as Head of International Business Immigration. In 2010 I joined EY as a Senior Manager initially, and was promoted to Director within a year. Despite the disability, I travelled extensively to service my clients. In 2016 I joined Santa Fe Relocation, this was a global role managing over 200 team members globally. In 2017, I decided to join HSBC to Head up their inhouse Immigration department.

I would say that until a few years ago, I had a good 'run' if you pardon the pun. I managed to cope with my leg and back pain, and learned to make it a part of my life.

In 2017, I started to feel more severe pain in my leg and hip, it stopped me from walking unaided and caused me a lot of discomfort. I saw several consultants who although sympathised, were not willing to take a risk and operate on my hip. I finally found an orthopaedic consultant who agreed to take me on. I had full hip reconstructive surgery, and repair to a broken femur in January 2018. I followed the rehabilitation program intensely.

After 12 weeks, I was due for a follow up appointment, this was going to be the day the consultant would tell me, it was healed and I could start walking unaided. Instead, during an x-ray, they found that the hip was dislocated and I needed to have the entire surgery redone, the next day. You can imagine my devastation. I had all the emotions - from tears to shock, and above all, 'why me', 'it's not fair'.

In the weeks following the surgery, my personality completely changed. I wasn't speaking to anyone and I felt alone in my thoughts. I then re-read a text from my 14 year old niece. In the message she said she was sorry to hear my news and that she was there if I needed to talk, scream or shout. She said to me that this was just a blip and I would be back to walking soon, and she said I should talk about it. Although only 14 years old, my niece was right.

I realised it was okay to be sad, it was okay to feel hard done by. And it was okay to speak to the people around you about how you feel. During this time my employer helped me. I was able to work remotely whilst I was recovering, they continuously checked in on me and more importantly made the necessary adjustments to allow me to go back to work in the physical office. As I prepare for yet more surgery, I feel that workplace support is essential to someone with a disability.”

Can you provide an overview of your position as Partner, Head of Immigration, and Chair of the Disability network at Mazars?

“I joined Mazars in 2019, I was on crutches and in some pain. I openly spoke about being disabled and the support that I would require in order to carry out my employment. What was clear was the firm had an Inclusion Diversity and Wellbeing strategy but it needed to be elevated. I was offered the additional role of Chair of the disability network.

Since joining and leading the network, I have strived to be a role model, and make a difference. I have been involved in the accessibility policy for the firm, working with key personnel on office accessibility. Ensuing doors are motorised, lifts speak to the floors so someone who is visually impaired can hear where they are. Working with recruitment and HR to ensure we capture candidates with disability from the outset.

I have also helped the technology team with developing the App to make it easier for people to join the network – of which we have 700+ members. As a network we celebrate key disability awareness days, and involve the entire firm. We have joined the Value 500 where the firm has made a commitment to drive disability awareness within the firm. We have also introduced a 10000 disabled interns program – giving opportunity to those with disability to enter the workplace. We have also joined the Disability Business Forum, to support and guide us.”

As someone with a long term health condition how did you identify an inclusive employer?

“My disability is visible, more so now as I use crutches all the time. I am very upfront about my disability, and I ask questions, such as; is the building accessible, do you have disabled parking. Employers are required to make reasonable adjustments, those that are inclusive will work with you to support you.”

“Own your disability, don’t let the disability own you. There are no barriers to success. If you need support, ask for it, and if it is not available then don’t let it dishearten you, seek out an alternative.”

Sue has used her own lived experience to aid people with disabilities by setting up her own facebook page as well as being a regular motivational speaker – AbilityinDisability, “a platform for people with a disability to come together as a community to share stories and connect.”

Voices of Law


To find out more about the role and responsibilities of a Partner / Head of Department, discover our Head of Legal job description article. Apply for your next Head of Department job, or Partner job role, simply head over to our latest job listings.

For further advice on how to feel confident as a disabled candidate, please see our latest Diversity and Inclusion article: ‘Disability Confidence: How to Feel Confident in Your Job Search as a Disabled Candidate

Would you like to take part in an interview about your experience as a Partner? If so, we would love to hear from you. Get in touch on to find out more.

LinkedIn: Sue Kukadia

Facebook: Connect with AbilityinDisability.