Anna Kagan joined Corinthia in 2017 as Director PR and Marketing in St Petersburg.
As FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 kicks off, Anna talks to Insider+ about being part of ‘Team Corinthia’.
Tell us about your roots. How did they influence you?
I was born into a family of scientists. My parents, a geologist and a geographer, devoted their lives to research of unknown. I was born in Moscow but I spent my childhood traveling with my parents from one scientific centre to another. Their way of living, their curiosity about the world, the wide horizon of their interests, made a strong impact on me. We had a big library at home, and as my parents were often busy with their research, I spent a lot of time reading. The combination of curiosity and a love for words is what made me choose journalism at university.
Where did your motivation for marketing and PR begin?
Public Relations was a relatively new sphere in Russia when I graduated in the late 1990s. I was one of the first graduates with an official state diploma for managers of public relations. During my studies I’d worked as a journalist at several St Petersburg newspapers but I wanted to try something new. My first job was in political and government public relations, and I participated in the 2000 presidential elections as part of a PR agency related to Russian national TV in Moscow.
I then left Russia and lived in California for two years, where I studied marketing. I liked the scientific approach to marketing there – its ability to create stories of a brand or product, and I loved the idea of changing people’s perceptions and attitudes by telling a story in words and pictures. Back in Russia in 2002 I started my career in public relations, which let me use PR in different industries and markets, from banking to fashion, hospitality and charity work.
How do you describe the journey you’ve had with the company in your first year?
Corinthia really is like a family – a family that cares for a new relative. Can you assume that the person will follow and share your values and traditions? Can you rely on this new team member in times of difficulty?
“Corinthia really is like a family – a family that cares for a new relative. Can you assume that the person will follow and share your values and traditions? Can you rely on this new team member in times of difficulty?”
What makes St Petersburg Russia’s ‘cultural capital’?
It gives me the luxury of feeling like a time traveler. Everyday I’m surrounded by beautiful classic architecture of the past; you’re at the centre of centuries-old Russian culture. Living here you can’t help but develop an active cultural life and a passion for self-education. Every other building is either a palace, museum or theatre; culture, at its most beautiful and in all its diversity, lives here. You can breathe it when walking in the streets, just by seeing the Winter Palace, the Isaac Cathedral or the great buildings along Nevsky Prospect.
“My favourite thing to do? To open this amazing city up to my friends, by going to a new exhibition – and there is always a new one – or by watching the bridges going up over the Neva River on a summer’s night – having fresh hot coffee while walking in the Summer Garden and talking about everything that inspires us.
Outside work, what’s your passion? Achieving a life-work balance is often difficult in management. How do you do this?
My passions are my family and friends, and art and nature. Though I have limited leisure time, that’s true, I achieve a good life- work balance by integrating my passion for art into my work and making friends among my business contacts. Rare but very precious time with family is often spent in nature, when we go together, for instance to the Gulf of Finland for barbeques and biking.
Tell us about your priorities for the rest of the year?
I’m responsible for the development and implementation of the hotel’s communications strategy for Russian and international markets, including marketing, brand representation, partnership projects, and reputation management. It’s a lot to do, and it’s an exciting job. This year one of my projects is to further develop the hotel’s relationship with the leading Russian media houses, as well as with cultural institutions and state authorities.
We’re supporting festivals devoted to the official year of Russian ballet, and of course we’re involved in many exciting activities related to FIFA World Cup 2018. We’ve just finished what has been a two-year renovation project which sees 70 percent of our guest rooms and suites, as well as the lobby, transformed. So with these improvements, we’ll be re-launching the new-look hotel to the Russian and international market. So, there’s a lot to do!