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Cornelia Brinkman: The One With the Wings

‘Everybody told me that Russian people don’t smile. But I must say, it’s been just the opposite for me.’

Published: February 5, 2014 (Issue # 1796)



  • Cornelia Brinkman’s greatest task is to identify and nurture talents with the potential for growth.
    Photo: For SPT

Appointed to the post of general manager of the Renaissance St. Petersburg Baltic Hotel and Courtyard by Marriott Vasilievsky Hotel in late 2013, Cornelia Brinkman came to Russia for the first time in her life and immediately felt in love with the country and the city. She has 20 years of experience in hospitality industry, including more than ten years with the Marriott hotels chain. Working her way up in the organization, Brinkman is certain there is no better way to achieve success and believes her mission is to discover young talent and provide opportunities for people to develop.

Brinkman sat with The St. Petersburg Times at Courtyard by Marriott Vasilievsky Hotel on Vasilievsky Island and said that if she had not joined the hospitality industry, she would have become a journalist. Although she does not speak Russian, she feels comfortable here because the locals are very friendly and helpful.

Related: Courtyard Celebrates 30 Years

Q: When did you decide to join the hospitality industry?

A: I started my career in hospitality when I completed my A levels. I was about 20 years old and did an apprenticeship. This is a very common practice in Germany. You do a job for two and a half years, working and studying at the same time. I chose it because my neighbor had started an apprenticeship as a cook and told me about a wonderful hotel she was working at. I thought maybe I should have a look. I went there for a week of volunteer work experience, just to see what was happening. I liked it very much and thought it could be a job I would like to do.

I was lucky that the hotel offered me an apprenticeship once I had finished my A levels. So that’s how I started. But when I was at school, I always wanted to be a journalist. That was my dream.

Q: What was the first position you held?

A: I did everything. I cleaned rooms, worked at reception, did some accounting and all types of administration, I was even cooking. I did everything in these two and a half years. After that I decided that I liked working at reception most and I began as a receptionist. Then I changed hotels and I was quickly given the opportunity to become a front-office manager. This is how my career started.

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Times Talk

ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Apr. 24


Learn more about Denmark during the Danish Business Delegation’s visit to SPIBA this evening starting at 5:30 p.m. at the Danish Culture Institute. Danish Consul general Klaus Sorensen will be in attendance and the buffet following a presentation on Danish companies in Russia will be the perfect opportunity to network with the assembled businessmen.


AmCham’s Human Resources Committee Meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. this morning in their St. Petersburg office. Check their website for more details.



Friday, Apr. 25


Light Music presents the main events for their Cultural Kitchen project at Loft-Project Etagi today. A B2B event that focuses on Finnish food, arts, travel, music and design, the evening will conclude with a dinner by chef Jyrki Tsutsunen and dancing to music by Aino Venna. The event, which began yesterday with presentations by tourism and cultural institutions, concludes today with a preview of Finland’s Flow festival and other musical events. Invitations are available from www.culturalkitchen.fi.



Saturday, Apr. 26


At 6 p.m. this evening, stylist Liliana Modigliani offers 50 simple ways to up your style quotient with beauty tips at the Galeria shopping center on Ligovsky Prospekt. The event is part of the final day of the shopping mall’s Fashion Saturday sales event, this week focusing on top brands located on the ground floor as well as presentation from fashion experts on sprucing up your spring look.



Sunday, Apr. 27


Families shouldn’t miss Childhood Planet 2014, the trade fair that started yesterday and concludes today at LenExpo. Not only will goods and services be provided for children and families but the event hopes to promote Russian brands and eco-friendly products using the latest technology available in the childcare industry.



Monday, Apr. 28


The Hotel Indigo will be the site of SPIBA’s Acting Skills for HR and Other Managers master class this morning starting at 9 a.m. The event will begin with coffee before moving on to the class itself and conclude with a tour of the recently opened hotel. Confirm attendance by Apr. 24.



Tuesday, Apr. 29


Improve your English at the British Book Center’s Interactive English Lesson tonight at 6 p.m. Students at pre-intermediate and intermediate levels are welcome discuss topics that are selected to help learners master the more difficult aspects of English grammar and vocabulary.