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‘Exceptional executive’ Arne Sorenson was a true leader and innovator

Arne Sorenson, centre, received an award from Jonathan M. Tisch Center of Hospitality, New York University.
Arne Sorenson, centre, received an award from Jonathan M. Tisch Center of Hospitality, New York University.

The businessman credited with leading Marriott International’s transformation into the world’s largest hotel chain, has been hailed an “exceptional executive” following his death from cancer.

Arne Sorenson was the first non-family member to head the company when he became chief executive in 2012.

He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2019 died on Monday, aged 62.

Born in Japan, Mr Sorenson was the son and grandson of Lutheran missionaries.
He trained as a lawyer and worked in Washington, USA, where he started to represent Marriott in 1992 before later being recruited to work for the company in-house.

In a statement Marriott executive chairman JW Marriott Junior said: “Arne was an exceptional executive – but more than that, he was an exceptional human being.

“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.”

Mr Sonenson was also known for speaking out in support of LGBTQ rights and against the travel ban imposed by former US president Donald Trump on certain majority Muslim countries.

In 2019, Chief Executive magazine named him CEO of the year, crediting him with a “bravura performance”.

Nicolas Graf, associate dean of the New York-based Jonathan M. Tisch Center of Hospitality said Mr Sorenson was a “long-time friend and supporter of the centre” and a “leader and true innovator”.

He added: “He was an exceptional executive, but he also was known for his incredible kindness and generosity.

“Arne was always willing to give of his time and understood the importance of the Tisch Center’s mission—educating the next generation of industry leaders.”

Marriott, which has more than 7,500 properties around the world and owns 30 brands, said it planned to appoint a new chief executive in the next two weeks.

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