Arne M. Sorenson, President and CEO of Marriott International, died unexpectedly on 15th February. He was 62 years old.
In May 2019, the company had announced that Sorenson had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. On 2nd February, Sorenson said he would temporarily step back from his role to focus on his health.
Sorenson joined Marriott in 1996 as VP and associate general counsel and quickly moved up the ranks, spending five years as EVP and CFO and then six years as EVP, CFO and president, continental European lodging. He was elected to Marriott’s board of directors in 2011 and became the third CEO in Marriott’s history a year later. He was the first CEO in the 90-year history of the company who was not a member of the Marriott family. Following the acquisition of Starwood Hotels and Resorts in 2016, Sorenson became CEO of the largest hotel company in the world.
Sorenson also steered Marriott to make significant progress on diversity, equity and inclusion, environmental sustainability and human trafficking awareness, keeping a blog on LinkedIn on which he shared his insights as a leader. The final entry on the blog, announcing his plan to step back and focus on his health, ended with words of encouragement: “Stay focused, stay strong and let’s do great work together.”
“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.”
Sorenson graduated from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, in 1980 and the University of Minnesota Law School three years later. Before he joined Marriott, he was a partner with the law firm Latham & Watkins in Washington, D.C. He and his wife Ruth lived in the Washington, D.C., area, where they raised their four children.