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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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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Jan. 28



Feel like becoming a publishing mogul? Stop by the Freedom anti-cafe at 7 Ulitsa Kazanskaya today at 8 p.m. where Simferopol, Crimea-based founder and chief editor of the Holst online magazine will talk about creating an internet magaine, including what stories to cover, how find an audience and build a team, where to find inspiration and how to stand out from the crowd. Admission is the normal price of the anti-café — 2 rubles per minute, which includes tea and snacks.



Learn everything you always wanted to know about wine, and perhaps a bit more, at the Le Nez du Vin seminar for wine lovers. Held at the WineJet Sommelier School, 100 Bolshoy Prospekt Petrograd Side, at 7:30 p.m., the event will cover wine production, the basics of wine tasting, the concept of terroir and the various countries where wine is produced. Tickets are 750 rubles and include a wine tasting. Register by calling +7 921 744 6264.



Thursday, Jan. 29



Attend a master class on how to deal with complicated business negotiations today at the International Banking Institute, 6 Malaya Sadovaya Ulitsa. Running from 3 to 6 p.m., Vadim Sokolov, an assistant professor at the St. Petersburg State University of Economics, will introduce aspects of managing the negotiation process and increasing its effectiveness. Attendance is free with pre-registration by telephone on 909 3056 or online at www.ibispb.ru



Celebrate what would be writer Anton Chekhov's 155th birthday at the Bokvoed bookshop at 46 Nevsky Prospekt. Starting at 5 p.m., the legendary author will be feted with readings of his stories and short performances based on his plays by various St. Petersburg actors. Chekhov's books will also be offered at a 15% discount during the event.



Friday, Jan. 30



The Lermontov Central Library, 19 Liteyny Prospekt, will screen 'Almost Famous’ in English with Russian subtitles at 6:30 p.m. Cameron Crowe's Academy Award-winning comedy from 2000 stars Billy Crudup, Kate Hudson, and Patrick Fugit, and tells the story of a budding music journalist at Rolling Stone magazine in the 1970s. Admission is free.



Meet renowned Russian poet, journalist and writer Dmitry Bykov, famous for his biographies of Boris Pasternak, Bulat Okudzhava and Maxim Gorky, and winner of 2006 National Bestseller Award. Bykov will read old and new poems as well as answer questions about his works at the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Main Hall, at 7 p.m. Tickets start at 1,000 rubles and are available at city ticket offices and the from the Philharmonic website www.philharmonia.spb.ru.



A retrospective of the films of Roman Polanski starts today at Loft-Project Etagi, 74 Ligovsky Prospekt, with a screening of ‘Repulsion’ at 7 p.m. and ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ at 9:15 p.m. The series runs through Feb. 4 and will include Polanski's eminently creepy ‘The Tenant,’ the cult comedy ‘The Fearless Vampire Killers’ and ‘Cul-de-sac’ among others. Tickets are 150-200 rubles and the complete schedule is available at www.vk.com/artpokaz/



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