Commercial director Adam Freeman will be promoted to the new role of director of consumer media.This will be the most senior marketing role at the company. Sands will not be replaced.
Freeman will be responsibe for display advertising sales, newspaper sales, marketing and the financial performance of The Guardian and Observer newspapers and guardian.co.uk.
Colin Hughes joins the board in the new role of director of business and professional. He retains his current responsibility for Guardian Professional, the company's business-to-business division, and takes on responsibility for Guardian Jobs.
Jon Cornaby, who was appointed finance director in January, is promoted to the board. Derek Gannon becomes director of operations, taking on responsibility for printing and distribution, while retaining the remit for technology, HR and other support functions.
Stella Beaumont takes up the new role of director of international and business development, focusing on the company's growth outside the UK. This is a non-board position, reporting to Tim Brooks.
As well as Sands' departure, Joe Clark, director and general manager of newspapers, is leaving the company.
Sands and Clark will leave at the end of the year.
In addition to the commercial changes, GNM managing editor Chris Elliott will step down from the board in June 2010, when key projects he is running on behalf of the board are completed.
Sands is currently considering his future plans. He said in a statement: 'In the light of the changing shape and needs of the business, it is the right time for me to look for a new challenge. It has been an astonishing 10 years, leading an award-winning marketing team through an extraordinarily successful period including the highly successful switch to the Berliner format and the ongoing development of our presence in the digital space. All great things have to come to an end at some time.'