Life at Newsela: Adriel Sanchez, Chief Marketing Officer
Adriel Sanchez joined the Newsela team in early 2019 to accelerate our marketing efforts and help build on Newsela’s impact in classrooms across the country. Adriel’s experience cuts across leading brands from Citi to SAP and more, and he’s excited to adapt and apply what he’s learned to the education sphere.
What does your team do and why is it so important to the Newsela’s mission?
At the highest level, the marketing team is responsible for bringing Newsela’s products to market. My team spans many functions - from corporate marketing, to demand generation, to product marketing. Our recent $50M Series C funding has helped us grow our marketing team and accelerate achieving Newsela’s mission. We’ve developed an amazing product. It’s my team’s job to make sure teachers and education leaders understand how Newsela can help them solve their biggest problems, while offering engaging, accessible content that leads students to become more enthusiastic learners.
What’s one challenge your team is excited about tackling right now?
Newsela has such an incredible story to tell: an amazing product, passionate employees, customers that love us, teachers that rely on us, and students who are inspired by us. We can do a better job telling that story. My team and I are incredibly excited to be working on crafting that story right now.
What do you look for when hiring on your team?
Being able to do the work is table stakes. There are three things that make a candidate stand out to me: great problem solving ability, broad curiosity, and the ability to collaborate effectively. When I think of great problem solvers, they’re people who are resourceful and can overcome any challenge standing in their way. The curiosity I’m looking for comes in the form of those who are not afraid to ask questions, are aware of their limitations, and are on a constant quest to better themselves. Effective collaboration to me is the ability to get others to buy into ideas, while actively seeking diverse opinions to make those ideas stronger: strong opinions, loosely held.
Which teams do you work closely with and how does that collaboration make what you do stronger?
No marketing team would be successful without tight collaboration and great relationships with product and sales teams. When those three teams are working well together, you can do incredible things. You’ll see marketing efforts translating to sales performance, and a constant feedback loop to product, which helps solve customer challenges even better, which helps improve marketing, which identifies new sales opportunities, and round and round it goes.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I can’t say there’s such thing as a “typical day” for me, which is just how I like it. Every member of our team - including me - is a player-coach. We all do stuff in addition to leading and helping others get stuff done. One day I may be crunching spreadsheets, and the next I may be writing copy, reviewing designs for a new campaign, or coaching members of my team. I love the variety.
From your perspective, what makes Newsela special?
If you’re a great marketer, you can work for lots of different companies. But working for a fast-growing tech company, whose mission is to solve problems for teachers and rethink the way learning happens in the classroom, makes your work incredibly rewarding.
There’s a content crisis in our classrooms, and most of the tools at a teacher’s disposal don’t do a very good job addressing it. At one extreme, teachers rely on textbooks that are outdated and do a poor job engaging digital-savvy kids. At the other extreme, teachers waste precious hours searching for more relevant content online, that really isn’t validated or classroom-ready or aligned to their lesson plans. Newsela is in a unique position to solve this problem. And all of the people who work here can truly put themselves in the shoes of our customers (we have a lot of former educators here - and those of us who weren’t educators were students at one point, have family members who are teachers, or have kids in school). This empathy makes for an incredibly passionate group of people, building a determined, collaborative culture, focused on improving the lives of teachers and students.
Do you have a favorite Newsela moment?
On my second day at Newsela, I attended an annual kick-off meeting for our sales team. At that meeting, our CEO, Chief Product Officer, and Chief Revenue Officer all spoke. I’d never seen such genuine passion in a leadership team. By the end of the day, all the reasons I wanted to come to Newsela had been validated, and I knew I’d joined something really special.
To hear more about why Adriel is excited to help transform reading in the classroom, check out his first impressions joining the Newsela team.