Arne Sorenson (’83) Named New Marriott CEO
DECEMBER 15, 2011—Arne Sorenson (’83) was elected the new CEO of Marriott International Inc. by its board of directors, the company announced Dec. 13, 2011. He will be the first non-family member to head the company and only the third CEO, following founder J. Willard Marriott Sr. and his son, J.W. (Bill) Marriott Jr. Currently Marriott’s president and COO, Sorenson will continue as president when he assumes the CEO position on March 31, 2012.
Sorenson was a partner at Latham & Watkins in Washington, D.C., specializing in mergers and acquisitions litigation, when his key role in the 1992-93 division of the company into Marriott International and Host Hotels and Resorts brought him to the attention of Bill Marriott.
"I personally recruited Arne to Marriott in 1996," said Bill Marriott in announcing that he is stepping down as CEO and assuming the executive chairmanship after serving the company for 60 years. "There is no one more deserving or capable of assuming the role at this important juncture in the company's history. Arne knows the business, lives our core values and has the respect and admiration of all of the company’s major stakeholders."
Sorenson's first position at Marriott was as senior vice president of business development, in which he oversaw partnerships and acquisitions and was instrumental in the 1997 acquisition of Renaissance Hotel Group. He was appointed CFO and executive vice president in 1998, and president of Continental European Lodging was added to his title in 2003. In the three-part role, he was responsible for hotel operations and development in continental Europe; the company's finance, treasury, and financial planning; and analysis functions.
In 2008 Sorenson helped launch a partnership with the Amazonas Sustainable Foundation in Brazil. Through the foundation Marriott sponsors the Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Forest Degradation Project to protect more than a million acres of rainforest and invites hotel guests to donate $1 per night to neutralize their carbon emissions. He co-chairs Marriott’s Green Council, which works to integrate environmental sustainability throughout the company’s business strategy.
In his current role since 2009, Sorenson is responsible for performance and growth of all of the company’s brands and businesses worldwide. He was elected to Marriott International’s board of directors in 2011. He also serves on the board of regents of Luther College, his undergraduate alma mater, and the board of directors of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
In October 2009 at a Dean’s Leadership Breakfast for first-year students, Sorenson described his professional experiences and how the Law School prepared him for his responsibilities. In February 2012 he will share his story and advice on working in business in a presentation of the new "Taking Care of Business" Speaker Series, which is open to all current students.
The Marriott story began in 1927 when J. Willard Sr. and Alice Marriott set up a nine-stool A&W root beer stand in Washington, D.C. Officially incorporated in 1929 as Hot Shoppes Inc., the company added catering and in 1957 opened its first hotel in Arlington, Va. In 1967, Hot Shoppes was renamed Marriott Corporation, and its first international hotel opened in Mexico two years later. Bill Marriott took over as CEO in 1972 from his father, who passed away in 1985.
Today Marriott International, headquartered in Bethesda, Md., is the largest publicly traded U.S. hotel chain, with 3,600 operated or franchised properties in 71 countries and territories and 2010 revenues of about $11.7 billion. Its employees number nearly 130,000. It topped the 2010-11 hospitality-company scoreboard from Climate Counts, a nonprofit organization that annually ranks companies for their voluntary efforts against climate change.