Rights: University of Waikato. All Rights Reserved. Published 3 May 2012 Download

An early career change to cheesemaking was a lifestyle decision for Miel Meyer, General Manager of Meyer Gouda Cheese. Here, Miel explains why he left his job in a science laboratory to work in the family cheese factory and how he draws on his scientific background in his role as cheesemaker.

Teaching points

  • Create a ‘treasure hunt’ activity that identifies a range of biotechnology-related careers featured on the Hub. Have students search for relevant people profiles and describe the nature of the jobs and the prerequisite study required.
  • Miel Meyer (Meyer Gouda Cheese
    For me, it’s the lifestyle. That’s what I came to cheesemaking to do, was I was working in a science laboratory, which I really enjoyed, but the lifestyle of cheesemaking is really good. I do have to get up early, but we can be really flexible on how we do things.

    When I was a child, I hugely resented the cheesemakery just because we worked there a lot, and Christmas, and I’d see my friends going to the beach and I was working in the cheese factory, but working at a full-time job, 40 hours plus a week, you start to realise, you know, what is good and what’s not. So I became aware that working with my family, there was a lot more satisfaction at the end of the day than just, “Cool, I’ve finished my work, I get paid.”

    The science that I did learn – so I majored in microbiology and genetics – so the genetics side hasn’t played a huge role but the microbiology has, especially when it comes down to the scientific side of cheesemaking. I understand how bacteria work – if there was a contamination, the reasons why the starter bacteria can fight off the contamination.

    Being able to explain to the staff those things is always handy as well, and when they know what and why, it helps them do their jobs, and that always helps. So some people may think that my science background has little to do with cheesemaking, and being a traditional-style cheesemaking especially, but in fact, things I have learnt do come back to play a huge part in the cheesemaking industry, which has been really beneficial.