SMEENK’S Classic: Excellent Excellence


Maartje C. Smeenk
Director Owner SMEENK’S Top Personal Assistants

For inspiration this time an interview that we previously published as one of our ‘best practices’ in our 2012/17 newsletter “The Secret of Success”. We would like to share this information again as Classic, because in our opinion it shows perfectly how the right top personal assistant can make a CEO and organization excel sustainably. And on the other hand how the right top personal assistant can grow excellently within an organization.

We wish you great inspiration and reading pleasure!

And of course, do you want to be able to realize your ambitions in a sustainable way? And to excel with your organization? In a culture of enthusiasm, commitment and entrepreneurial spirit? Please do not hesitate to contact us.

We are delighted to use our expertise, passion and our network for your benefit!

Assisting excellent leadership. Through attention, focus and quality.

Update: Shelly Klomp has been Gert van der Steen’s personal assistant, CEO of International Wellness Resorts (IWR) and former Recron Entrepreneur of the Year, from 2012 to early 2014. Very soon, she started combining this role with the role of quality manager for all five locations . In February 2014, Shelly was promoted to the role of branch manager with end responsibility for “De Zwaluwhoeve” in Hierden, the Netherlands, which had just been acquired by IWR. After approx. four years, she was promoted to  operational manager for IWR Elysium and IWR Spa Weesp. After a total of seven years, upon her CEOs departure, she decided to leave the organization in mid-2019 as well. Currently, she is a general manager herself, carrying end responsibility for a sauna organisation.

Below you can read how it started.


Every day countless guests enjoy pure relaxation in one of the wellness resorts of International Wellness Resorts from Emst. Behind the scenes that relaxation requires effort! Personal assistant to CEO Gert van der Steen helps realizing his ambitions.

In 2008 Gert van der Steen founded sauna, beauty & wellness resort De Veluwse Bron in Emst, the Netherlands (Winner Zoover Wellness Award and Woman Award 2012). He made his first acquisition after three years. Van der Steen now heads International Wellness Resorts (IWR). An umbrella organization with over 600 employees and five high-quality wellness resorts and thermal baths: De Veluwse Bron in Emst, Thermen Houten, Thermen Tilburg, Thermen Geldrop and Elysium in Bleiswijk.

Smeenk's Personal Assistants     Involved 

In the midst of all activities and hectic involved with the takeover of Elysium in Bleiswijk by entrepreneur Gert van der Steen, Shelly Klomp accepted the role of his personal assistant via Maartje C. Smeenk. After the “Hogere Hotelschool”, Shelly first worked as a front and back office manager at a four-star hotel. She says: “I joined IWR during a very busy period. From day one I have been involved and taken everywhere. People sometimes look surprised when Gert takes his PA to an appointment. But we can work very quickly this way. I prepare the appointment at the office and we discuss it in the car. During the appointment, I take minutes and note all action points. Back in the car, I can already start making phone calls to initiate things. And of course I keep an eye on whether all actions are actually taken up. That takes a lot of work off Gert’s hands.”

Smeenk's Personal Assistants     Well-informed

In order to be a good PA, you need to be well-informed, Shelly believes. “Gert gives me much confidence. I am allowed to know everything he knows. That is important, because if you know about many aspects, you can  address many matters yourself. I  handle all his e-mail, other mail, telephone calls, etc.  so I have access to much information there. Gert and I also share an office, so I  hear about many matters as well.  If I am not joining him to an appointment, I ask him afterwards how it went. This does not always suit him, but he knows that if I know how it went, he is also going to benefit from this. And when he is very busy, I remain calm and I just hand him a cup of coffee. You feel when it is better to say nothing or not. For example, I also take minutes of the strategic team meeting. In the beginning you only write, but at some point you also get ideas yourself, because you know and hear more and more. They now ask by default whether I still have subjects. This way you become more and more involved.”

Smeenk's Personal Assistants     Own initiative

Besides working for Gert, Shelly also takes on other projects. For example, she supervised the introduction of a new personnel registration system. She was also closely involved in the purchase of a new reservation system. In addition, she is responsible for the final inspection of all invoices and she has made a start with the initiation of a uniform quality mark for all five locations. Shelly: “I draw a lot of work to myself. Gert knows that I am always there for him when he needs me. And if I have time for more, I will take on more projects or activities. He appreciates my own initiative. And that I prefer not to have a manager who tells me what to do every day. ”

Smeenk's Personal Assistants    Entrepreneurship 

The question that does come to mind is: how do you keep up with this demanding position? “I work fast. Gert jokingly calls me sometimes a paper shredder: you put something in it and it rattles out again. I also arrive earlier at the office than Gert, so that I already have a head start. And we leave at the same time in the evening. I knew beforehand that this would not be a 9 to 5 role. My phone is always on and when busy, I skip my night out with friends. I want to do that. It is very important that you are committed to this role. I also have an entrepreneurial spirit myself.  I hope to be able to use everything I learn here in my own organizatioon someday. But first there are still plenty of challenges here, because Gert is still full of plans! ”

“Excellent Excellence”, Maartje C. Smeenk. Director Owner SMEENK’S Top Personal Assistants. This article was first published in our newsletter “The Secret of Success” in 2012/17.

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Assisting excellent leadership. Through attention, focus and quality.