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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, Oct. 24


SPIBA’s ongoing “Breakfast with the Director” series continues today, featuring Tomas Hajek, Managing Director of the Northwest Division at Danone Russia. Hajek will be discussing collaborations between businesses from different cultures. The meeting is at 9 a.m. at the Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel and all who wish to attend must confirm their participation by Oct. 23.


Get your gong on at “Sounds of the Universe,” a concert at the city planetarium this evening incorporating six different gongs to create relaxing songs that will transport you upwards into the stratosphere. Tickets are 700 rubles ($17).



Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop culture, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the club’s website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit “Neophobia” at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBA’s Marketing and Communications Committee’s round table discussion on “Government Relations Practices in Russia” this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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