Meet Tom Wilcox, Senior Partner at Counterculture

Music curator, producer and musician Tom Wilcox is Senior Partner at Counterculture where he helps creative organisations thrive while making and presenting great art and cultural projects. Tom’s specialisms include strategic and business planning, finance, governance, commercial operations and capital projects. Before joining Counterculture, Tom was Managing Director at the Whitechapel Gallery where he oversaw a £13m expansion. He was previously at Arts Council England, the Poetry Society and Siobhan Davies Dance Company, and was a contributor to the book Common Ground, a collection of writing about authorship and place.

10 minutes with Tom…

How would you describe what you do in 5 words?

Help present/make great art.

What was your first job?

My first job at 15 was working for my Dad, who was a tree surgeon. I joined PricewaterhouseCoopers after graduating which was the start of my career in earnest.

What was your worst job?

Working in the Burger King on Colchester High Street makes you ask serious questions about yourself and your life, I can tell you that.

What achievement are you most proud of?

Transforming Whitechapel Gallery as an iconic building and international brand, and my two daughters.

What’s your greatest fear for the creative and cultural sector?

Lack of ambition and undue reticence in the face of danger.  

What are three unexpected qualities any leader needs?

Eliminating variables;

Understanding history; and

A sense of manifest destiny.

What’s your superpower?

Always making public art galleries financially successful.

What motivates you every day?

Fear of ending up back where I started.  

What was the best piece of early career advice you received from a mentor?

Iwona Blazwick (Director of Whitechapel Gallery) often used to say, “steal with pride”.

What advice of your own would you give to an aspiring or emerging leader?

“Seize the world and shake it upside down,” Iggy Pop. I would also — shamelessly — advise aspiring or emerging leaders to read my book on arts management which will be published in 2019.

Tom Wilcox will be running a Leadership Hack at Emerging Futures 2018 on the theme of Conceptual Continuity and ‘resisting the forceful pull towards the generic’.

You can follow him on Twitter @wilcoxtommy