NZBS Executive Management Team

Sam Cliffe - Chief Executive Officer

Sam Cliffe, CEOAs the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Sam leads the Executive Team and is accountable to the NZBS Board. She has overall responsibility for organisational performance including delivery of both its Annual and Strategic Plans.

Sam has a strong focus on values and teamwork. The matrix structure of her leadership team sees the National Medical Director, National Manager Technical Services and National Manager Donor Services act as strategic partners to the CEO, providing critical clinical advice and support to enable achievement of the organisation's objectives. The other Executive Managers are: National Manager Operations, CFO, National Manager Human Resources and National Manager Quality & Regulatory Systems. The Information Services and Marketing functions also report directly to Sam.

Sam has worked as an independent consultant and has extensive health experience, with more than 30 years working in the public health sector in both New Zealand and the UK.  Starting her career as a Registered Nurse, Sam has held several senior level executive roles leading large teams in the areas of funding, hospital service delivery and primary care.  She has worked across a range of organisations including Counties Manukau District Health Board, the Northern DHB Shared Service Agency and the Ministry of Health. 

Dr Peter Flanagan - National Medical Director

Fiona Ritsma

Peter leads the NZBS Clinical Services team which plays a key role in ensuring that clinically appropriate blood products are provided to patients in need, wherever and whenever they are required. Expert transfusion medicine advice is available at all times and is drawn upon in a wide range of situations from selection of donors, to assisting hospital clinicians to provide treatment for complex or urgent clinical transfusion problems.

The clinical function for the organisation is provided by six Transfusion Medicine Specialists located in various centres around New Zealand with support from a number of Medical Officers, six Transfusion Nurse Specialists and three Scientists.

Peter is actively involved in a number of professional organisations and is currently the Past President of the International Society of Blood Transfusion (ISBT), a member of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Expert Advisory Panel on Blood Transfusion Medicine and a member of a number of working groups of the European Directorate for the Quality of Medicines (EDQM) relating to the 'Guide to the Preparation, Use and Quality Assurance of Blood Components'.

John Harrison - Chief Financial Officer

Fiona Ritsma

John leads the NZBS Finance function with responsibility for all finance related activities as well as the management of procurement related activities.

The Finance team have responsibility for invoicing and debtor management duties; procurement of general supplies and services with post contract performance monitoring; insurance risk management; creditor management; product and service costing and pricing management; treasury and funds management. The Finance team also manage the annual budgeting cycle, all financial forecasting, monthly financial management reporting and statutory financial reporting and associated financial audit and regulatory compliance requirements.

The financial management information systems and business intelligence system maintenance and development are also finance function responsibilities.

John is a Chartered Accountant and member of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand. He has a wealth of experience in varied finance roles and since 1992 has worked primarily within the Crown entity sector.

Sue Jensen - National Manager Human Resources

Sue Jensen

The National Manager HR is responsible for providing strategic human resource leadership ensuring policies, programmes and HR services support a high performing culture supportive of the enduring outcome, vision and values of NZBS.

Sue’s team includes regional HR Advisors, the NZBS Health and Safety and Payroll teams, all of whom are focused on helping NZBS evolve as ‘a great place to be’.

Working in partnership with members of the Executive and Senior Management teams, Sue’s team works towards attracting, selecting, motivating and retaining a highly qualified and diverse workforce; promoting effective leadership and management practices; managing salary and benefits; developing employee recognition programmes; promoting fair and equitable treatment of employees through employee relations services; leading health and safety, inclusive of wellbeing initiatives; and providing training and development.

Christine Van Tilburg - National Manager Operations

Christine van Tilburg

Christine leads the Operations function which provides all routine business activities for NZBS sites in the collection, manufacturing, testing and distribution of more than 160,000 blood donations which are dispensed through NZBS or DHB Blood Banks around New Zealand.

Christine’s team includes six Area Managers, each of whom are responsible for the performance of their regions and the Logistics team who ensure safe and efficient receipt, storage, distribution and transportation of products between NZBS sites and external customers. Christine's team also plays a key role in determining the collection targets for each region and managing the call centre to ensure the schedules are filled to meet demand.

Ray Scott - National Manager Technical Services

Fiona Ritsma

 The Technical Services function which Ray leads, is responsible for the processing, testing and supply of blood components to meet clinical requirements in hospitals throughout New Zealand. In addition, Ray’s role has particular focus on strategic development of technical areas of NZBS and in maintaining accurate and responsive collections and production forecasting and planning. Most recently, this has been further extended to the oversight of NZBS facilities development with major building projects to future proof the Christchurch and Auckland facilities.

Technical Services also undertakes pretransfusion testing to match blood components for transfusion to patients and histocompatibility testing to support the various transplant programmes within New Zealand. Tissue Banks for the provision of bone and skin and a National Component Development Laboratory and Red Cell Reference Laboratory, are also operated by NZBS.


Meredith Smith - National Manager Quality and Regulatory Systems

Fiona Ritsma

The NZBS Quality and Regulatory function is responsible for implementing the quality systems required for regulatory compliance in the manufacturing and diagnostic areas. It is also the champion for quality improvement initiatives within the organisation. Meredith leads the Quality Systems team who are located across all main sites and provide the operational teams with support and advice on quality and regulatory issues and conduct audits to verify compliance with requirements.

Quality also includes the Document Systems team which is responsible for the controlled documents and records management systems. Meredith also holds the role of NZBS Privacy Officer. Meredith has over 30 years’ experience in the fields of haematology and transfusion. Meredith originally trained in Australia as a Medical Laboratory Scientist specialising in haematology and immunohaematology.

After several years in hospital laboratories and Blood Banks, Meredith spent twelve years in production and quality roles with the Australian Red Cross Blood Service before moving to NZBS to take up the role of Quality Manager.

Olive Utiera - National Manager Donor Services

Olive Utiera

The Donor Services function which Olive leads, is responsible for recruiting and retaining new and existing donors and performing all blood collection activities.

A key responsibility for Olive and her team is to provide the strategic direction for the Donor Services function, to incorporate best practice methods and to ensure Donor Service staff receive the training and support required to provide a consistent, high standard, customer driven service. The Professional Development Unit which she also leads, is tasked with supporting the development of nurses and donor technicians in Donor Services. Olive also heads the Māori Staff Advisory Group who provide guidance at various levels within the organisation.


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