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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

Friday, Apr. 18


Teachers and students alike shouldn’t miss the opportunity to establish lasting contacts with Russian and foreign institutions during the 21st Education and Career Fair at LenExpo, beginning today and finishing tomorrow. Learn more about education in Russia and connect with your fellow scholars.


The Tromso International Film Festival, Norway’s largest, brings a short festival to St. Petersburg for one day only during Scandinavian Oddities, starting at 7 p.m. today at Rodina Cinema Center. Tickets for the event are 100 rubles ($2.80).


Sunday, Apr. 20


Celebrate Easter at Pavlovsk during the Easter Fair that begins today and continues through next Sunday. Visitors will have the chance to paint Easter eggs and children can take part in games as well as help decorate a tree in honor of Christianity’s holiest day.


Today is one of the final days to see the exhibit Cacti — Children of the Sun at the Peter the Great Botanical Garden. Starting Apr. 17, budding botanists will marvel at the variety and beauty of the desert’s most iconic plant.


Monday, Apr. 21


Improve your grasp of Neruda, Bolano and Marquez at TrueDA’s Beginners Spanish Lesson this evening at their location on the Petrograd Side. An experienced teacher will be on hand to help all attendees better understand the intricacies of the language and improve their accent.


Tuesday, Apr. 22


SPIBA’s Breakfast with the Director event series continues as the association welcomes Andrei Barannikov, general director of SPN Communications, to the Anna Pavlova Hall of the Angleterre Hotel this morning at 9 a.m. Attendees must confirm their participation by Apr. 21.


The AmCham Environment, Health and Safety Committee Meeting is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. this morning in the their St. Petersburg office.