Part 4 & 5 of 8

For today’s feature, we have an ambitious sister act that have pushed the limits and are each successful in their own right, Dr Louisa Ponnampalam, PHD & Katrina Ponnampalam Chia.


Katrina Ponnampalam Chia

Katrina is the Founder & Co Owner at Wilka Designs.

Wilka was launched in 2015 and it focuses on the working class women. She started off in advertising, working amongst the big players like BBDO handling major accounts including KFC, only to realize her true passion which was fashion. She decided to jump into the unknown, give up her full time job and worked to achieve and start her own brand, in a thriving and competitive industry. After all, she did graduate with a Bachelors Degree in Fashion from the Lim Kok Wing University of Creative Technology.

Wilka has been featured in Tatler Asia, as well as Sin Chew Daily newspaper, iFeel,, and Jasmine magazine. Katrina was also recently interviewed on Astro V Buzz Malaysia. This year, Katrina has taken it a notch higher, and WILKA will be making its debut at KL Fashion Week.

In a short amount of time, Katrina has gained a following and is well known in the industry, dressing the likes of Soo Wincci, Brynn Lovett, Danielle Chong, Dewi Seriestha and Sarah Lian.

What inspires you?

My parents are definitely my biggest inspiration. Watching them go through life, managing everything and everyone on their own with no help makes me want to be like them. To be strong, focused, compassionate, to always understand and be supportive.

What would you tell your 18 year old self?

Live life but never forget where you came from. Also, never put your dreams on hold!

Dr Louisa Ponnampalam, PHD

Dr Louisa is a marine mammal scientist and conservationist who is living and breathing a childhood dream.

She is the Chairperson and Co-Founder of MareCet Research Organization, Malaysia’s first and only non-profit organization dedicated to the research and conservation of marine mammals and their environment. Over the years, she has researched dolphins in the Arabian Sea, Gulf of Thailand, Andaman Sea, South China Sea and the Straits of Malacca, and currently spearheads a dugong research and conservation project in Johor. 

She is also a Research Fellow at the University of Malaya and a Research Associate of University Malaysia Sarawak. In 2013, she was asked to present at TedxYouth@KL, where she spoke on “Whales, Dolphins and What the Sea is Saying”. Dr Louisa has also done numerous interviews on local radio stations such as BFM 89.9 and Traxx FM to share about her work. Young, ambitious and hardworking, it is no wonder that Dr Louisa has many international and national accolades under her belt. In 2014, she was awarded a prestigious Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation from the Pew Charitable Trusts in the USA, followed by a National Premier Youth Award 2014 by the Ministry of Youth and Sports Malaysia. She also sits on various international committees such as the IUCN Species Survival Commission’s Cetacean and Sirenia Specialist Groups. Just recently, Dr Louisa was shortlisted for a Study UK Alumni Award 2017 in the Professional Achievement category. Despite all these, her true aim and dedication is to raise the awareness of marine mammals and the importance of marine conservation to Malaysians from all walks of life, to make local positive changes that will help safeguard our marine life, and to continue grooming and inspiring the next generation of marine conservationists in Malaysia. 

What inspires you?

I’m inspired by a deep and insane love for nature and the sea. It’s intriguing beauty and complex webs that keep planet Earth ticking, yet rapidly disappearing at the hands of humans, which propels me to dedicate my life to bring nature’s importance to the public forefront and giving it a voice.

What would you tell your 18 year old self?

I would tell my 18 year old self that being ambitious is good, but that youth is to be enjoyed, so while I have a life and career goals, I should take more time to play and be more carefree whilst I still have that chance!