Sandeep Hulsandra has been working for Brightspot since February 2017
In 2017, Sandeep Hulsandra made the jump from Brightspot customer to the head of the company's Media Practice. In her latest interview, Rose and Sandeep discuss his background in chemical engineering, what it is like to spend a day in his shoes and how the pandemic has impacted him and his family.
How long have you worked at Brightspot? What brought you here?
I've been with Brightspot for three and a half years. I was previously a customer of Brightspot as the vice president of engineering at Politico, where I headed development, delivery and operations. I met David and Lisa back in 2014 when I was looking for an enterprise CMS and technology partner as part of my digital transformation and growth strategy for Politico. What really attracted me to Brightspot was the impressive work that the team was doing building software solutions for a variety of use cases and industries, as well as the company's focus on expansion. It was also an opportunity to work with David, who I'd had a lot of respect for. I've worked at media companies for the bulk of my career which I certainly enjoyed, but working for a technology company like Brightspot definitely broadens your horizons.
What was it like to go from being a Brightspot customer to working for Brightspot?
It was somewhat familiar in a way because I knew the Brightspot team and I knew the product, and that certainly made things a lot simpler. But it was a little bit different to go from being on the customer side to the vendor side.
Can you tell me more about your role as Senior Vice President & General Manager of our Media Practice? What is a typical day like for you?
I head the media practice here at Brightspot. My focus is on digital strategy and business development, covering consumer and business-to-business publishing, television, radio and entertainment. I basically bring in new business and manage the relationship with existing clients. It's essentially split between growing the business and keeping existing customers happy. Overall, it's about understanding the prospect's challenges and needs and being able to articulate the value proposition and how our solutions can be leveraged to meet their goals. I also support the evaluation process, handle negotiations and close the deal. I stay involved in the implementation by serving as the executive sponsor on the project. I also try to add value back to the product based on what customers are looking for in the industry.
I read that you have a degree in computer science and chemical engineering. How do you think your background has helped you in your career and in your current role?
You're right! I do have a Bachelor's in chemical engineering. And it's a funny story—I was not planning to switch majors. I had an opportunity present itself in the first few weeks of grad school, where I could receive a nice teaching assistantship from the computer science department. The only catch was that I had to switch majors. I thought I'd try it out, ended up really loving it and received my Master's in computer science. I moved up the ranks but always stayed within engineering. However, the transition to sales was more recent. In all honesty, I don't view my job as traditional sales but more of building relationships, helping other companies with their digital strategy and evangelizing our products.
How have you grown professionally over the three years that you have worked at Brightspot?
That's a good question! I think the new professional skill that I developed here at Brightspot is the ability to sell. I have learned more effective ways to connect with prospects. I've learned a lot on the marketing side as well, such as creating buyer personas and targeted campaigns to better reach new customers. And I continue to expand my product and business knowledge by working with a variety of amazing people and organizations.
What project has been the most exciting for you to be a part of and why?
I have to say I've really enjoyed working with all clients that I brought in and continue to enjoy having a great relationship with all of them. The LA Times was especially interesting. It consisted of replatforming The Los Angeles Times, San Diego Union Tribune and 18 or so community sites. The goal was to seamlessly share content across publications, consolidate, reduce the number of systems and overall cost, and improve workflows. The project included a full site redesign, several interesting CMS customizations, data migration from multiple sources, several third-party integrations, DAM and archiving, story budgeting and editorial planning, print integration, wire integration, content syndication and distribution. It was a cool project that had it all!
Besides the people, what is your favorite part about working at Brightspot?
I think helping digital executives at various organizations to be successful. One of my favorite things about working in a product and technology company is the opportunity to work with several clients in digital strategy and help them achieve their goals. That would be my favorite part.
What are your favorite activities or hobbies to do outside of the office?
I love to travel. Travel is my time to relax and rejuvenate! I also love to play tennis. Since I live in the city, I enjoy walking to restaurants, theaters and museums. Of course, the pandemic has put a damper on all of this, but hopefully life will go back to normal in the near future.
What has been a silver lining of the COVID-19 pandemic for you?
It made me realize how much we take for granted and has given me a greater appreciation for life. We can't do the routine things that we could before, such as traveling, eating out or playing sports. I'm thankful that my family is in good health and I'm able to spend more time with my 19-month-old son. The nice thing about living in D.C. is that there are lots of open spaces all within walking distance, so we've been doing a lot more picnics. I'm also thankful that we're keeping busy at work and continue to expand our business while working remotely during this pandemic.
What was the last book you read? Do you recommend it?
I am currently reading this book that my dad gave me called Big Russ & Me. It's a memoir by Tim Russert from Meet The Press. It's a tribute to his father and the values that he instilled in his children and it takes you to his childhood growing up in the '50s. It's really about American values back then and the values society at large seems to have abandoned. It's really well-written and very down to earth.