Marriott’s President & CEO Mr. Arne Sorenson Dies Of Pancreatic Cancer

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Marriott today announced that its CEO and President, who reduced his work commitments on February 2 due to treatment schedules (read more here), has died at the age of 62.

Marriott announced back in 2019 (read more here) that Mr. Arne Sorenson had been diagnosed with cancer but that he would continue with his duties.

Pancreatic cancer survival rate per John Hopkins:

Five-Year Survival Rate

Compared with many other cancers, the combined five-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer—the percentage of all patients who are living five years after diagnosis—is very low at just 5 to 10 percent. This is because far more people are diagnosed as stage IV when the disease has metastasized.

Here’s the announcement from Marriott:

It is with profound sadness that Marriott International announces that Arne M. Sorenson, President and CEO, unexpectedly passed away on February 15, 2021. In May 2019, the company announced that Mr. Sorenson had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. On February 2, 2021, Marriott shared the news that Mr. Sorenson would temporarily reduce his schedule to facilitate more demanding treatment for pancreatic cancer.

Mr. Sorenson became the third CEO in Marriott’s history in 2012, and the first without the Marriott surname. A visionary leader, Mr. Sorenson put the company on a strong growth trajectory that included the $13-billion acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts. During his tenure as CEO, Mr. Sorenson was tireless in driving the company’s progress, creating opportunities for associates, growth for owners and franchisees and results for the company’s shareholders. Known for his leadership on difficult national and global issues, Mr. Sorenson steered Marriott to make significant progress on diversity, equity and inclusion, environmental sustainability and human trafficking awareness.

“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 Mr. Sorenson stepped back from full-time management in early February, the company tapped two veteran Marriott executives, 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’s business units and corporate functions, in addition to maintaining their current responsibilities. Ms. Linnartz and Mr. Capuano will continue in this capacity until the Marriott Board appoints a new CEO, which is expected to be within the next two weeks.

Here’s the statement released to associates:

Mr. Sorenson just reduced his schedule two weeks ago:

Marriott CEO Reduces Schedule Due To Pancreatic Cancer Treatments

He was diagnosed with cancer in May 2019:

Marriott Statement on Health of Arne Sorenson

Conclusion

The five-year survival rate of this nasty pancreatic cancer is unfortunately very low.

If I had been in his shoes, I would have resigned in 2019 and just enjoyed the rest of my time rather than deal with Covid-19 related issues, but you shouldn’t second guess anyone’s motives.  Needless to say, he saw the well-being of the company and its employees as important as his own health.

We offer condolences to his friends and family members.

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