Photographed by Nishant Shukla in the Queen's House

Find Katy Wickremesinghe on Instagram

What does your work involve? 

In my day job, I am the founder of KTW and The Wick – a global strategic communications consultancy and content platform on a mission to connect the culturally curious and to make businesses more art-engaged and responsible. 

The Wick, which I founded over lockdown, is a cultural content hub. It’s dedicated to education and creativity, and helps users navigate a complex art world, allowing anyone to be an art-world insider, and enabling individuals and businesses to engage closely with visual arts, culture and design. 

In my wider life I also dedicate time to the broader conversations around culture and protecting legacy, as a trustee for various public institutions, including the Royal Academy of Arts, Dulwich Picture Gallery and The Line. I also work in advisory or mentoring roles with the Association of Women in the Arts, Creative Circuit and Founders Forum, and as a patron of the Serpentine Future Contemporaries and V&A Patrons.
What inspires you? 

I see art and culture as the unequivocal points of human connection and, as someone driven by a want to create, connect and educate, communications was a natural career path.

Prior to starting my business, I had spent a decade working with inspirational thought leaders from the fields of technology, film and politics, which really gave me a strong rigour and grounding in my work – all of them left imprints on the way I operated at that time.

My parents also very much inspired me. They were both medical professionals for their entire lives, working as a surgeon and nurse for the NHS. I knew I wanted my work to serve a wider purpose.

I am half Sri Lankan, but was born in south London. I definitely think growing up in a family that bridges the culture and belief systems of East and West has informed the way I live my life. I’m half an island and city girl combined in one. Growing up, I was consistently surrounded by family and at the core of everything was fluid conversation and big get-togethers, which gave me a strong sense of self.

In terms of my inspiration now and the push to move forward, I take that from myself, from my inner voice. Ultimately, I want my work to outlive me and to imprint cultural change, diversity and education on the world and for myself. I continuously want to learn and be filled quite literally with cultural curiosity.

What message would you give to the next generation? 

Learn. Learn. Learn. Ask questions and lots of them, and never presume you know the answer. I still know I have huge amounts to learn and I hope it’s my humility and collaborative nature that makes people want to work with me, my team and the business.

Also, don’t give up. You will have bad months, maybe even years, but if you can stay consistent in the little things then the big moments usually start to arrive.

The next generation has a huge opportunity to take ownership of and autonomy over conversations, so I would say use your channels, your technologies and dedicate your time to the big things that matter – the things you want to change in the world. Even if the most you can do right now is read about them and post on Instagram, this learning will build and your voice will be heard.

Finally, I would say learn from expertise and spend time in human company. Embrace physical books, meetings and conversations. Most importantly, be proud of who you are and where you come from. Everyone is relevant.

See the full series

This profile is part of Pioneers: A Renaissance in South Asian Creativity, on display at the National Maritime Museum