Marriott International has paid tribute to its ‘beloved’ president and CEO Arne Sorenson, who has passed away after a fight with pancreatic cancer at the age of just 62.
Sorenson, who became only the third CEO in Marriott’s history in 2012, died unexpectedly on Monday after being diagnosed with the disease in May 2019.
On February 2, Marriott shared the news that Sorenson would temporarily reduce his schedule to facilitate more demanding treatment for pancreatic cancer.
The hotel chain paid tribute to its CEO, calling him an ‘exceptional leader, and an ‘exceptional human being’, and said he will be missed ‘deeply’.
In 2012, Sorenson stepped in as Marriott CEO and became the first without the Marriott surname.
He put the company on a strong growth trajectory that included the £9bn ($13bn) acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts in 2016, a move that helped Marriott to cement its status as the world’s largest hotel chain.
He first started working with Marriott in 1992 after training as a lawyer and then being recruited to work in-house for the company a few years later.
Known for his leadership on difficult national and global issues, during his tenure Sorenson steered Marriott to make significant progress on diversity, equity and inclusion, environmental sustainability and human trafficking awareness.
The coronavirus pandemic saw Marriott’s revenue fall 90%, prompting the chain to furlough more than 100,000 workers and cut hundreds of jobs. Sorenson gave up his salary for the year.
“Arne was an exceptional executive – but more than that – he was an exceptional human being,” said J.W. Marriott, Jr., executive chairman and chairman of the board. “Arne loved every aspect of this business and relished time spent touring our hotels and meeting associates around the world. He had an uncanny ability to anticipate where the hospitality industry was headed and position Marriott for growth. But the roles he relished the most were as husband, father, brother and friend. On behalf of the board and Marriott’s hundreds of thousands of associates around the world, we extend our heartfelt condolences to Arne’s wife and four children. We share your heartbreak, and we will miss Arne deeply.”
When Sorenson stepped back from full-time management in early February, the company brought in Stephanie Linnartz, group president, consumer operations, technology and emerging businesses, and Tony Capuano, group president, global development, design and operations services, to share responsibility for overseeing the day-to-day operations of the company.
They will continue in this capacity for a few weeks until the Marriott Board appoints a new CEO.