By Royal Appointment

The Trainers

The International Butler Academy has carefully chosen its trainers for their field experience and teaching ability. All trainers have been in private service for years and/or held positions in esteemed households or corporations. This combination of comprehensive knowledge and considerable experience, coupled with deep pride in and affection for a singular and respected profession, ensures that all students will benefit from such devotion to duty. We are the only school with a comprehensively written syllabus that provides a framework and standard for all of our instructors to follow. 

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Robert Wennekes - CEO

(Professor) Robert Wennekes (1958) grew up in a hard-working hospitality family. Destined to follow in his father's footsteps, Mr. Wennekes found the hospitality industry not satisfying. In his early twenties, he started working as a butler, personal assistant, and executive manager for an American billionaire. He stayed with this employer for six years. He then moved back to Austria, becoming head butler for one of Austria's most prominent families. Later, Mr. Wennekes became head butler at the American Embassy in Germany. He received an official framed certificate from the US White House for "Outstanding Service." profile

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Adam Edward Shimko - Head Butler

Mr. Shimko is what in the private service world would be considered a Gentleman’s Gentleman, primarily because of his impeccable manners and an incredible eye for detail. After many years as a Country Club manager in the USA, it was his passion for impeccable service that led Mr. Shimko to attend the training program at The International Butler Academy in 2019. Graduating with honors, Mr. Shimko returned to The International Butler Academy as Head Butler. Mr. Shimko has tremendous stage experience as a performer and vocalist. He uses this remarkable experience to aid students in developing their performance as a butler.

 

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Paul Huizinga - Recruitment Director

After a long career in international banking, Mr. Huizinga followed his dream by becoming a professional butler. At The International Butler Academy, Mr. Huizinga is responsible for recruitment, and he is responsible for the Academy's International Internship programs for its students. He finds it very satisfying to assist TIBA graduates in securing a rewarding position. Mr. Huizinga works closely together with the graduates once they are finished at TIBA. Mr. Huizinga also teaches house & household management.

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Gordon Munro - Education Director

Mr. Munro is a trained private butler, and a 15-year experienced golf club manager. His real passion, however, is the theater, and it is this passion that links him to our Academy. As a trainer, Mr. Munro is specialized in training body language and expression, butler etiquette and protocol, rhythm, speech, and service situations. Through drama classes and body language training, he brings the students a wealth of knowledge about posture, decorum, style, and grace, all pillars of the private service profession.

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Melchior van der Meulen - Corporate Director

Melchior van der Meulen is a highly experienced butler, gentleman's gentleman, and valet with more than 25 years of experience in the private service profession. He knows his business like no other. At The International Butler Academy, Mr. Van der Meulen is responsible for teaching butling plus valeting in all of its many and varied facets. Mr. van der Meulen uses real-life settings in his hands-on training, which the students value tremendously.

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Zoey Zhao - Finance Director

Ms. Zhao is originally from China, where she has been working for The International Butler Academy in the beautiful city of Chengdu (Sichuan Province) since 2016. In China, her responsibilities included training operation manager and chief translator. Zoey Zhao moved to TIBA The Netherlands in early 2021 to become Finance Director. Because of her love for training (and for our students), she has become an important part of the training staff. She enjoys teaching our students about Chinese culture and customs, focusing on Chinese tea service.

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Peter Steijvers - Art & Culture Trainer

Mr. Steijvers studied hobo and chamber music at the conservatorium in Maastricht. He graduated in 1977 and became solo Hobo player at the Limburg Symphony Orchestra, as well as the lead trainer for Hobo at the Conservatorium Maastricht. After a teaching career of over 30 years, he became Chair of the Jury Final Exams Bachelor and Master of Music, Chair of the Exam committee Bachelor and Master of Music, and Head of the Chamber Music Department. Mr. Steijvers' life has been one completely dedicated to Art & Culture, specifical music in all its forms. He spends a day with our students to enlighten them on the importance of Art & Culture in our daily lives, with theory in the morning and a cultural fun-filled afternoon in Maastricht.

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Anoesjka Imambaks - Housekeeping Trainer

Ms. Imambaks is highly experienced when it comes to housekeeping and cleaning and has been placing private household staff at the highest level for more than ten years. At the International Butler Academy, Ms. Imambaks is responsible for teaching cleaning techniques, using (eco-) cleaning products, cleaning tools, cleaning schedules, and safe and healthy work methods. These are some of the essential parts of managing large households.

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Duncan Bailey - Image Trainer

Mr. Bailey comes to us from The Old School Barber Academy which is based in Rotterdam. He is a passionate educator with a unique sense of style. Among other things, he teaches image building and a hands-on barbering workshop at TIBA. Our students enjoy learning what it takes to be well groomed and the importance of developing a personal style. Students value Mr. Bailey’s informative and practical lessons while working with high-quality products.

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Herman van der Meij - Diageo Ambassador

Mr. van der Meij is a Prestige & Scotch Brand Ambassador at Diageo Benelux, the biggest spirits producer in the world and owners of brands like Johnnie Walker, Smirnoff, Gordon's, Baileys, and Tanqueray. In 2013 the Scotch whisky industry awarded him with the title " Keeper of the Quaich" which is a prestigious title for those who outstanding contributed to the promotion of Scotch whisky. Mr. van der Meij has spent over 35 years working in the spirits business as a whisky connoisseur and collector.

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Tamar Kersemaekers - Cooking Trainer

Ms. Kersemaekers is a chef, culinary trainer, and business owner. She loves to share her experience and passion for the culinary industry and imparts basic but important knowledge of modern food preferences. These preferences can be based on medical or religious requirements and other dietary food trends. Ms. Kersemaekers provides an active masterclass in the professional Butler Academy kitchen and theory lessons in the classroom as well.

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Ron Pieters - Cheese & Wine Master

Mr. Pieters speaks about cheese tasting like a sommelier speaks of wine tasting. He says it is very similar. Mr. Pieters explains that when you taste cheese, you use your eyes, nose, and mouth. He has great knowledge about cheese (and wine!), but it is his fun personality and down-to-earth philosophy that our students appreciate most of all. They simply adore him. They spend one full evening with him. Mr. Pieters' cheese tasting is all about experimenting and learning. And learning about cheese and wine, you will. He has been a TIBA trainer for more than 15 years.

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Christianne Rousseau - Atmosphere Creator

For over 13 years Ms. Rousseau has specialized in high-end fabrics, interior design, and styling. She works with the most beautiful materials and combines them into stunning designs for private customers and luxury hotels at her Maastricht studio. Ms. Rousseau calls herself an Atmosphere Creator because that's exactly what a house needs, a good atmosphere. She is very passionate about her work and is always thrilled to share that passion with our students. 

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Edwin Raben - Sommelier

Mr. Edwin Raben is a passionate wine enthusiast and owner of Edwines.com. He has extensive experience in the hospitality industry, where he originally started as a cook. Mr. Raben worked as a sommelier at top restaurants such as Lauswolt, La Rive (Amstel Hotel), and Landgoed Wolfslaar (where he was co-owner). He was awarded 4 times as the best sommelier in the Netherlands, and in 1997 he was 3rd in the world championships for sommeliers in Paris. As a former chairman of the Dutch Guild of Sommeliers and a member of the ASI Exam Committee, he knows the international sommelier world like no other.

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Ilona Visker - Professional Organizer

Ms. Visser has been a Professional Organizer for over 10 years and is registered as a teacher with the CRKBO. While teaching her organization lessons at The International Butler Academy, Ms. Visker’s mission is to help free our students from physical and mental clutter and for them to subsequently use these very important and necessary tips, processes, and tools in their professional careers. Butler Academy students are extremely appreciative of the valuable lessons provided by Ms. Visser.

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Mirjam & Myriam - Personal Fitness Trainers

Mirjam & Myriam are two enthusiastic personal trainers who have many years of experience in teaching sports, group lessons, boot camps, and organizing sporting events. Since 2012, Myriam and Mirjam have been responsible for fitness training at The International Butler Academy. In these workouts, the students renew their energy levels, so they stay fit and focused during the whole course. This class is also meant to serve as "time off" from being a Butler and ends with a relaxation and meditation session, where students wake up with a new level of vibrancy!

By Royal Appointment