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Private Service Educator Spotlight: The Charles MacPherson Academy

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charles macpherson butler academyLocated in Toronto, Canada, The Charles MacPherson Academy has been preparing individuals for private service careers since 2009.  The Academy was started by Charles MacPherson, who is an experienced international butler. The school focuses on a mix of technical skills and management concepts to prepare students for such jobs as Estate Managers, Household Managers, Personal Assistants, and Major Domos in addition to traditional Butler roles.

One of the truly unique aspects of the school is their approach to placement after graduation.  In addition to being exposed to placement options through Charles MacPherson Associate’s placement division, they also present their graduates to other agencies for consideration.  Graduates benefit from Charles’ reputation in the industry for producing quality candidates, especially those seeking to transfer into the industry from another profession.

In this month’s Educator Spotlight, Charles tells us more about his Academy…

  1. How long have you been in business?

Charles MacPherson Associates has been in business since 1996, the school was opened and certified as a Private Career College in 2009.

Our experience working within the homes of high and ultra-high-net-worth families (as well as luxury hotels and clubs, palaces of Royal families, etc.) was heavily referenced in the development of the program’s curriculum.  Our significant experience in the field means that we understand the skills and trouble-shooting knowledge required by would-be Household Managers because we have done the job and have the experience of a private service insider.

  1. In a nutshell, what do you teach?

Our specialty is both Household Management and Butlering Skills for the 21st century.  Our program focuses on foundational skills for the operation of luxury residences.  We premised our curriculum on a core belief that good Managers understand the skills and knowledge required to perform the various positions within a household.  Without that understanding, a Manager is incapable of evaluating and upgrading the performance of staff members.  This is why we teach practical skills in areas like housekeeping, laundry, and the care of art and antiques in addition to household management and butlering skills.  Our objective is to educate individuals to become “Walking and Working” Managers as opposed to desk-bound individuals who are removed from day-to-day household operations.

  1. What makes your training unique?

We firmly believe in the concept of “learning by doing.”  So much of what we teach is practical skills. We invested heavily in the production of a formal curriculum and proprietary textbook. Our faculty are experts in their respective fields and utilize a teaching laboratory that provides students with the opportunity to work firsthand with the best of the best. For this reason, we invested in the tools, materials, and equipment one would find in a luxury home. Students learn with the best so that, from day one in school, they develop an appreciation for the handling, care, and maintenance of luxury goods.

  1. How long are the courses?

The current certificate program is an intensive 4-weeks, Monday to Friday with a half day on Saturday. The program can also be taken in 1-week segments to accommodate scheduling constraints.

  1. How frequently are the programs run?

We offer three sessions per year; Winter, Spring and Fall.

  1. Do you have an online or correspondence courses?

We believe in the importance of an in-school, personal, hands-on learning experience. At this time, there is no convincing way to virtually replicate the quality of that experience.

  1. What are the requirements to attend your school?

Applicants must be high-school graduates or pass a language equivalency test.  During the application process, we also conduct interviews and evaluate each applicant and assess what we refer to as their “transferrable skill sets.”  Some students come to us with a private service background, however many do not.  For the latter group, we spend time identifying skills that would be of value to our clients but are not necessarily highlighted by applicants.  Our objective is to admit only those individuals who will most benefit from the program and have the highest prospect of success in their new career.

  1. Who is your ideal student?

Our graduates have such diverse backgrounds.  The students who do best tend to come from fields like hospitality, management, or positions such as executive or personal assistants.  The most important thing, however, is that each student has an understanding and appreciation for service or a willingness to learn and integrate a service mentality into what they have to offer potential employers.  Not everyone has this ability.  It is the secret sauce of private service.

  1. Do you offer placement assistance to your graduates? What is your placement rate?

Yes, we proudly offer placement services to graduates as well as non-graduates.  We are careful to tell each applicant that we make no guarantees of placement since we do not control the variables of the labor market. Through our own placement division and through strategic relationships with reputable placement agencies across North America as well as the UK, we aggressively market our graduates so that they can find good jobs as quickly as possible.  The rate of placement does fluctuate from session to session for various reasons. Placement boils down to combined efforts that must include the active participation of graduates.

  1. Do you belong to any professional associations?

Our firm and individual team members are proud to be part of numerous professional associations spanning the private service, hospitality, hotel, protocol, and etiquette industries.

We belong to DEMA (Domestic Estate Managers Association) as well as PDI-POA (Protocol Diplomacy International – Protocol Officers Association.)

  1. Are you accredited? If so, with what entity…

We are an accredited Private Career College governed by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities [Canada].  The Ministry provides standards and oversight and ensures that our Academy meets its obligations to students.

  1. How much does your program cost?

The 4-week program is $7,500 (CAD) inclusive of our proprietary textbook and classroom materials. Accommodation is the responsibility of each student, although we are happy to provide guidance in that area.

  1. Are financial aid, scholarships or payment plans available?

Not at this time.

  1. How can people contact you?

Andrew Gayman, Academy Director, at (416) 361-6434 or email andrew@charlesmacpherson.com

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About the Author:

Since 2004, Donna has been teaching job seekers of all levels effective job search strategies. In 2009, she published her book “Get a Job Without Going Crazy: a Practical Guide to Your Employment Search.” Donna is based in Denver, and has presented workshops in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Dallas. She continues to work with job seekers across the country.

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