Get to know Melissa Aimers, Quality Systems Manager at Calysta
What drew you to your role at Calysta?
For me Calysta is such an interesting company with a powerful vision, aiming to make a real difference to meet the demands of a growing population. It is so different from anything I have previously been involved in. Once I started to learn more about Calysta, it completely drew me in and made me want to be part of their exciting journey, contributing to making a real impact on how feed and food can be produced.
How did you get started in the industry? What did you study and what was your first job?
After studying food and health management at university, I joined Greggs (the UK’s largest bakery manufacturer and retailer company), in their graduate scheme. I remained with this company for 21 years, working my way up to quality manager and then to technical manager, gaining experience from working across eight different sites around the UK.
My passion is quality and the implementation of systems to ensure products can be produced to the highest microbiological and quality standards. Although I am new to the world of gas fermentation, I bring all my previous skills and vast experience to help develop and make improvements in the standards at Calysta and its joint ventures.
What have been your highlights or proudest achievement whilst working at Calysta?
Since joining Calysta almost 18 months ago, I am proud to have generated and delivered robust policies and procedures, as well as a revamped hazard analysis of critical control points system (HACCP), all of which form the foundations of our quality management system. As part of the joint venture work as Calysseo, I am delivering training and am transferring knowledge and experience of this quality management system to the team in China, so that they are fully equipped to introduce these quality systems into the world’s first commercial production facility for microbial protein in Chongqing, China.
I have a passion for system development and in my central role at Teesside, I have really enjoyed the challenge of creating and building together all the key processes from scratch, to ensure the highest, consistent standards can be achieved, and then transferring this across to the China team for implementation at the Chongqing site, and I’m proud that these processes will also be rolled out to the Teesside (UK) and Menlo Park (US) sites, and to future production sites.
What most excites you about Calysta’s technology?
Every day at Calysta I’m learning so much about the technology and the amazing science involved. The fact we can convert carbon gases to produce a microbial protein product from fermentation is extraordinary. There are so many talented people within the company, and it is the collaboration of everyone’s expertise that really makes it a fascinating place to work. My role is to increase the feed and food safety and quality awareness across all this activity, to ensure standards are continually improved and that we do it in a consistent approach.
The excitement is mounting as we get closer to commissioning our commercial plant later this year.
What’s a typical day in your job?
My role involves working with teams in China, Teesside and the US to establish and drive improvements in feed/food safety and quality standards, including areas such as HACCP, policies/procedures, raw material and finished product specifications and document management. No two days are ever the same. For the past 12 months, the majority of my focus has been on supporting the team in China, generating the new quality management system, transferring this knowledge and providing the training for the quality system requirements.
Who most inspires you?
My two young sons are four and seven years old, and they inspire me each day. Their thirst for knowledge, fun-loving nature and fearlessness of the World is contagious and inspiring. I know that I am biased as I’m their Mum, but they are pretty awesome in their embrace of life.
If you were stuck on a desert island and could only have with you one book, one movie and one song, what would they be?
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
I would be happy to listen to anything by Ed Sheeran on a desert island.
Do you have any advice for people wanting to pursue a career in Quality Management?
I would recommend it highly. The opportunities open to you are so diverse and the skills can be adaptable across different industries. The scope and breadth of a quality management role is what makes it so interesting. If you are passionate about raising standards and bringing people along on the journey with you, then a career in quality management is for you.