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Meet the… SVP of global services

Ateliere's Sonny Sandel discusses his love of being at the forefront of rapid change in the media and entertainment industry

Sonny Sandel, SVP of global services, Ateliere Creative Technologies
Talk us through an average day in your role

An average day usually involves overseeing client implementations, strategising on leadership initiatives and developing the professional services practice. 

I usually start my days by checking in with project managers on ongoing projects. I’ll join any client meetings that need my attention – putting out fires, discussing larger strategic objectives or kicking off initiatives.

I also partake in consistent leadership discussions to align on strategic initiatives, report on Objectives and Key Results (OKR) and ensure we are on track with our mission. I coordinate with other department heads including sales and customer support to ensure seamless transitions.

Finally, a big portion of my day is spent developing the professional services practice. This involves taking a step back from the day-to-day and identifying larger initiatives to improve our overall process for our clients. The professional services department in Ateliere is fairly new and constantly evolving, so it’s critical that we remain steady but adapt to the explosive growth we are experiencing. We achieve this by reviewing metrics, taking feedback, learning from mistakes and creating a culture of continuous improvement.

How did you get started in the media industry?

After college, the first company I worked for was Accenture. Since I lived in Los Angeles, media and entertainment was the hot industry to be in. My very first project was at Warner Bros, where I learned IT consulting in the crazy world that is media and entertainment. 

What training did you have before entering the industry?

I didn’t have much training specific for media and entertainment. At UC Berkeley, my majors were Business Administration and Economics which gave me the basis and fundamentals of business. Then at Accenture, we went through core training that introduced us to the IT consulting world. At that point, there were some industry-specific seminars and team meetings, but the hands-on training occurred on day one when I showed up at the client site. 

Why do you enjoy working in the industry?

IT and media and entertainment are both industries that are extremely fast-paced. I enjoy the intense speed of learning new types of processes and technology, and being at the forefront of rapid change. 

It’s also easier explaining my job in an industry where most people can understand the type of content we deal with. Movies and streaming services are sexy topics to discuss with the average person, so it’s easier for me to create a connection to my day-to-day.

What piece of advice would you offer someone looking to explore a role similar to yours?

The first piece of advice is to be comfortable with ambiguity. 

This is an explicit core value of Ateliere, and it resonates strongly with the media and entertainment industry. When implementing our system with clients, we have to understand that the industry is rapidly evolving and must be comfortable with not knowing everything. Clients will have different file content, processes and technology that we’ve never encountered, so we should not shy away from change but embrace it. 

My last piece of advice is more of a quote that I live by: “There are no ordinary moments.” 

I love what I do, but inevitably there will be challenging days. Sometimes you may be stressed out or feel that you can’t seem to get traction. But, if you take a step back with your work and take stock of how truly extraordinary your work, your calling and your life is, then every moment is a blessing. The daily grind prevents us from appreciating these moments but if you look hard enough, you’ll see that there are no ordinary moments.