Robert (Rob) Sands has been President and CEO of Constellation since 2007. His father founded the company in 1945, when the American wine industry consisted mainly of dessert wine shipped in bulk and bottled like milk. The business has transformed since then, as Constellation has become the #1 multi-category beverage alcohol supplier in the U.S. with over 9,000 employees and $7.3 billion in sales.
Rob transferred to Harley for high school, proudly graduating with the class of 1976. Here, he reflects on how the school’s philosophy around lifelong learning makes Harley a unique environment.
Deep Involvement in the School Yields Great Rewards
Coming from a family where giving back to the community is a tradition he has followed in his father, Marvin’s, footsteps by serving on numerous boards including: Rochester General Health Systems, Thompson Hospital, Rochester Business Alliance Inc. and, as chairman, the New York Wine & Culinary Center. Committing to community affairs is something he and his family are carrying out in many ways through the Sands Family Supporting Foundation. They support local giving for arts, education and health. His father was fond of saying, ‘You can’t save the world, but you can take care of your own community.’
Rob served as President on our board of directors from 2002-2006 drawn, in part, by the culture created by the long-term faculty members. During his tenure the school made significant upgrades to the physical plant including an expansion featuring new libraries and middle school facilities. The Sands Stern Academic Center was built in 2003, significantly upgrading the buildings. His vision for a compelling space for learning shaped this work.
Teamwork and collaboration, ideas fostered at both home and school, are Rob’s keys to success. He also values diverse viewpoints and Constellation’s leadership team works hard to make sure the company is inclusive. By valuing innovation and critical thinking Rob sets the stage for further business success in a global market.
A Commitment to What’s Right for People and the Planet
Harley helped give Rob an early taste of the importance of sustainability through different projects throughout the years. Today, he values Harley’s continuing commitment to sustainability (In fact, Constellation’s Corporate Environmental Sustainability Manager is Harley grad Meg (Malone) Sternowski ‘06. She manages and measures the company’s environmental footprint.) throughout the curriculum as well as experiences based at The Commons building. Additionally he cites programs, like Hospice, that impact students’ lives and outlooks.
As he said in a recent interview, “It’s about hiring great people and then listening to them, taking their ideas and figuring out how to put them into action, making sure you have a lot of diverse points of view so you seize on the best course of action, instead of thinking you’re the guy who knows everything.”
The Harley School is grateful for Rob’s leadership and dedication throughout the years.