Sands' role will be assumed by Adam Freeman, who is promoted from commercial director to the role of director, consumer media, a post that will encompass ad sales, marketing and monitoring the financial performance of The Guardian, The Observer and guardian.co.uk.
Joe Clark, the director and general manager of GNM, is also leaving as its parent company, Guardian Media Group, looks to make savings.
In addition, Colin Hughes is promoted to the board as the director of business and professional, and the finance director, Jon Cornaby, also joins the board.
Earlier this year, GMG kicked off a review of its national newspapers after the division reported an operating loss of £35 million. However, GMG has said it will not close The Observer, the Sunday title, which was under review.