Marriott CEO dies after battling cancer

Arne Sorenson was known for his 'exceptional' and authentic leadership

Marriott CEO dies after battling cancer

Arne Sorenson, president and CEO at Marriott International on Monday (15 February) passed away “unexpectedly” after a tough fight against pancreatic cancer.

He was diagnosed in 2019 and had stepped back from his role this year to undergo further treatment. Marriott will appoint a new CEO in the next two weeks, according to media reports.

The untimely death of the 62-year-old executive was announced on his personal LinkedIn page:

“It is with a heavy heart that Marriott International announces that our beloved president and CEO, Arne Sorenson, passed away unexpectedly yesterday after a fight with pancreatic cancer. Arne was an exceptional leader – but more than that – he was an exceptional human being. We extend our heartfelt condolences to Arne’s wife and four children. We share your heartbreak, and we will miss Arne deeply.”

READ MORE: How to support employees through a grieving process

Authentic leader

Even while battling cancer, Sorenson took the time last year to deliver an emotional video message to global employees about Marriott’s strategy against the pandemic.

He called COVID-19 one of the most ‘severe’ crises experienced by the hotel chain – even more so than the Great Depression and World War 2. He predicted that the financial impact would be worse than the 9/11 terrorist attack and the 2009 financial crisis combined, before sharing details on how the organisation would navigate the pandemic.

He had appeared in the video with a clean-shaven head due to his ongoing treatment and didn’t shy away from addressing his personal battle, reassuring employees that his new look “was exactly a result of” his condition.

“I feel good and my team and I are 100% focused on overcoming the common crisis we face,” said Sorenson.

READ MORE: What makes a truly authentic leader?

The video, published on Marriott’s social media pages, went viral across the professional community, with industry colleagues and leaders the world over praising his authentic leadership.

Marriott announced that the company’s top rank will temporarily oversee various parts of the global business while waiting for an announcement on the new CEO.

If you haven’t caught it yet, here is a glimpse into Sorenson’s lasting legacy:

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