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Marriott’s Arne Sorenson: 2019 CEO of the Year

Under his watch, Marriott International has exploded in value

When you’re talking about the past few years for Marriott International and its CEO, Arne Sorenson, it may be easier to talk about what hasn’t happened than what has. A $13 billion deal—the largest in the company’s history—for rival Starwood? Check. A cyberhack that resulted in unauthorized access to hundreds of thousands of customers’ data—and acres of painful headlines? Check. A series of painful labor strikes across the U.S.? Yup, that too.

That’s not all. There’s Airbnb, which is fast disrupting the travel business; the rise of anti-globalism, anathema to a company with hotels in 131 countries; and, of course, an endless series of highly public brushfires that come along with welcoming guests of every stripe, such as the LGBT community erupting in protest at the President of Brazil hosting an event at a Marriott in New York’s Times Square (he ultimately cancelled), to name just one.

The worst news came on May 3, when the company announced Sorenson, 60, had been diagnosed with stage 2 pancreatic cancer and would soon begin treatment.

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