Our Academy

The Instructors

The International Butler Academy is proud to have assembled a team of trainers handpicked with great care based on their impressive track record of experience and teaching prowess. With years of distinguished service in esteemed households and corporations, these trainers possess a deep-rooted affection for the butler profession, evident in their passionate approach to teaching their students. Their combined knowledge, expertise, and enthusiasm work in perfect tandem to provide an unmatched educational experience for students at The International Butler Academy.

Our trainers are not just exceptional educators but also committed to ingraining in their students the values of service, professionalism, and respect. They understand the pivotal role a butler plays in the lives of those they serve and are dedicated to instilling these core values in our students. At The International Butler Academy, we take immense pride in our trainers and their unwavering commitment to excellence. It is their dedication and commitment that helped us establish our position as the leading institution in private service and hospitality training in the world.

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Robert Wennekes - Founder & CEO

Born into a hotel family, Mr. (Prof.) Wennekes (1958) was destined to follow in his father's footsteps. However, he found the hospitality industry unsatisfying and decided to pursue a career as a butler. In his early twenties, he began working as a butler for an American billionaire and stayed with the employer for seven years. Later, he moved to Austria and became the head butler for one of the country's most prominent families. He then worked as the head butler at the American Embassy in Germany, where he received an official framed certificate from the US White House for "Outstanding Service."  In 1999, Mr. Wennekes founded The International Butler Academy. Profile Link Here

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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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Adam Edward Shimko - Executive Head Butler

Mr. Shimko is a true gentleman’s Gentleman, primarily because of his impeccable manners. After many years as a Country Club manager in the USA, his passion for service led Mr. Shimko to attend the training program at The International Butler Academy in 2019. Graduating with honors at the top of his class, Mr. Shimko returned to The International Butler Academy as Executive 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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Tamar Kersemaekers - Executive Head Chef

Ms. Kersemaekers is the Academy's Executive Chef. She is a chef, culinary trainer, and business owner. She cooks for the students and staff and loves to share her experience and passion for the culinary industry. She imparts basic but essential knowledge of modern foods. These preferences can be based on medical or religious requirements and other dietary food trends. Ms. Kersemaekers provides active masterclasses in the professional Butler Academy kitchen as well as some theory lessons in the classroom.

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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 its many varied facets. Because of his tremendous experience, Mr. van der Meulen uses real-life settings in his hands-on training, something the students value tremendously.

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Karen Xiao - International Training Director

Ms. Karen Xiao graduated from Loughborough University in the United Kingdom with a degree in International Management. After graduating in 2016 from The International Butler Academy, she became Training Director at The International Butler Academy in Chengdu, China. Ms. Xiao stayed with TIBA China until early 2020, when she spread her wings to become a freelance hospitality trainer. Since 2023, Ms. Xiao is responsible for The International Butler Academy's international training assignments. At school in The Netherlands, she also teaches event 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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Anoesjka Imambaks - Recruitment Director

Mrs. Imambaks is responsible for recruitment and the Academy's International Internship programs. She finds it very satisfying to assist TIBA graduates in securing a rewarding position. Mrs. Imambaks works closely with the graduates once they are finished at TIBA. She also teaches housekeeping and cleaning, 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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Olaf Eman - Hotel Operations Director

Mr. Eman is responsible for a creative and proven training system within private properties, hotels, cruise ships, and private yachts. He is passionate about role-play training and group assignments as training and education tools to inspire people to be aware of the changes and transformations within the service industry. Mr. Eman studied Hotel Management in Germany and The Netherlands and graduated with Distinction from The International Butler Academy. He has sailed worldwide with various River Cruise Yachts and ocean Cruise vessels.

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Bud Rellum - Head of Protocol

Guest trainer Mr. Bud Rellum was employed as a senior policy officer at the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs  (MFA) from 1980 to 2018.  During international postings, he was asked to organize and/or accompany members of the Dutch Royal Family. The experience and expertise built up over the years came to good use when he joined the protocol team of the MFA during the EU presidency (1997). Afterward, Mr. Rellum was asked to fulfill the first position as Head of Protocol for the Netherlands Prime Minister (1999-2002). Later, he organized State Visits of HM King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima.

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Christianne Rousseau - Interior Designer

Guest trainer Ms. Christianne Rousseau has for the past 13 years 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 more of an Atmosphere Creator than an Interior Designer. A house requires a good atmosphere because that's exactly what a home needs. Ms. Rousseau is very passionate about her work and is always thrilled to share her passion with our students. 

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Peter Steijvers - Art & Culture Trainer

Guest trainer Mr. Peter Steijvers graduated from the Conservatorium of Maastricht in 1977. He became the lead trainer for Oboe at the Conservatorium Maastricht. After a teaching career of over 30 years, Mr. Steijvers became Chair of various Committees and Head of the Chamber Music Department. Mr. Steijvers' life has been one wholly dedicated to Art & Culture, specifically music in all its forms. He teaches students the importance of Art & Culture in daily life, with theory in the morning and a fun-filled cultural afternoon in Maastricht.

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Ron Pieters - Cheese & Wine Master

Guest trainer Mr. Ron Pieters speaks about cheese tasting very much 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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Herman van der Meij - Diageo Ambassador

Guest trainer Mr. Herman van der Meij is a Prestige & Scotch Brand Ambassador at Diageo Benelux, the most prominent spirits producer in the world and owner 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 made outstanding contributions to the promotion of Scotch whisky. Mr. van der Meij has spent over 35 years working as a whisky connoisseur and collector in the spirits business.