Throughout February, George Brown College celebrates Black Futures Month. We're highlighting GBC graduates who make meaningful changes today with an eye on the future.
Masks and increased hand hygiene became ingrained in the everyday lives of many, thanks to COVID-19. But George Brown College Practical Nursing graduate Barley Chironda began living and breathing infection prevention and control years before the pandemic. With nursing skills, a fearless approach to new challenges, and a reputation as a top-notch communicator, he has become an established leader in the field.
Chironda is the National Healthcare Sales Director and International Infection Control Specialist for Clorox Canada. He leads a team responsible for selling Clorox disinfecting products to Canadian hospitals. He also provides international consulting on infection control protocol.
The COVID-19 pandemic introduced him to a new clientele, including retail outlets, movie theatres, and restaurants— businesses where people gather for services.
"I've come through this period with a lot of insight, understanding and empathy on the challenges these clients face," he said.
Before Clorox, Chironda worked at Michael Garron Hospital as a practical nurse. He rose through the ranks there and later at St. Joseph's Hospital to become an infection prevention and control specialist and leader.
"There were multiple professional certifications, academic tracks, international speaking opportunities, and leadership opportunities there. I took everything available," he said.
Chironda recently completed his Master of Science in Infection Control at the University of Essex.
The shift from hospitals to private industry
As an infection prevention and control leader at St. Joseph's Hospital, Chironda was a Clorox customer. During a chat with company execs, he outlined how Clorox could optimize processes and better serve the healthcare industry. As a result, the Clorox reps offered him a job on the spot as a business development and infection control specialist (they created the title for him). And thanks to his practical nursing education and experience, he excelled in the role.
"We started to see steady growth on the healthcare team, some of it because I had worked in hospitals, so I understood the customers' needs," Chironda said. "When I walked into a meeting, customers appreciated that somebody who understood and had done their job was talking to them. Now, I lead the healthcare teams and provide consulting in the international market for Clorox."
Looking toward executive leadership and academia
Chironda aims to move his career forward while giving back to the industry and supporting future professionals.
"What I would love most is to be able to contribute on a large scale," he said. "I can do that in two ways: by teaching and through capacity building and creating more resilient systems in a consultative position."
But before he gets to consulting, he'd like to take on a senior role as a director or vice president of quality in a hospital setting.
"The world is open right now," he said. "It's just a matter of which way I want to go."
Chironda's communication tips
A course on communicating with patients during his program at George Brown laid the groundwork for Chironda's professional success as a communicator.
"The first thing is to be present. People know when you're glancing at your phone," he explains. "Being present allows me to read reactions and nuances. I use those micro-expressions to recalibrate."
He often refers to an acronym for improved communication that he learned at George Brown — SOLER.
- Sit squarely
- Open posture
- Lean forward
- Eye contact
Improving communication through group work
Chironda recommends leaning into group work opportunities.
"It forces you out of your comfort zone, so you need to talk to people from different walks of life. If you did not have an ear for a particular accent, you had to develop it because that's how you will work well together," he said.
"I rely on the foundational elements and the relationships I picked up at George Brown."