In April 2015, when HOTELS asked Marriott International Executive Chairman J.W. Marriott, Jr. what remained undone, it was no surprise at all when he answered, “everything,” because he learned from his father that “success is never final.” It has been the motto he has worked by throughout his career.
As HOTELS inaugural Legend in 2015, Mr. Marriott so emphatically added during the same interview, “Once you think you have it made and sit back, that’s when you get into trouble. You must keep pushing the rock up the hill just like Sisyphus.”
On Monday, after more than 60 year of leadership, Marriott, 89, announced he is passing the rock to his son David S. Marriott, 48, as he confirmed to the Board of Directors that he plans to retire as executive chairman in May and will not stand for re-election to the Board at the upcoming Annual Meeting of Stockholders. The transition has been in the works for quite a while.
The Board will formally designate Mr. Marriott as chairman emeritus, effective immediately following the upcoming 2022 Annual Meeting. In addition, the Board has elected David Marriott to succeed J.W. Marriott, Jr. as chairman of the board, also effective immediately following the Annual Meeting.
David Marriott joined Marriott International in 1999 and was elected as a director in 2021. He has held several operational roles at Marriott, including most recently as the president, U.S. Full Service Managed by Marriott, where he was responsible for oversight of more than 330 hotels operating under 14 brands in 34 states. He also oversaw the U.S. integration efforts of Marriott’s acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts, which has created a company that today is comprised of nearly 8,000 properties across 30 brands in 139 countries and territories.
“On behalf of the board and the hundreds of thousands of people who wear a Marriott name badge around the world, I’d like to thank Mr. Marriott for his outstanding leadership throughout his tenure with the company. He is truly an industry icon,” said Anthony Capuano, chief executive officer, Marriott International. “I’d also like to congratulate David Marriott on being elected Chairman of the Board. Not only does he have tremendous operational experience from his career at Marriott, but hospitality is in his DNA. I look forward to working alongside him for years to come.”
J.W. Marriott, Jr. guided what was once a family-run root beer stand and restaurant business to become a global hospitality giant. His passion for the hospitality industry began at an early age when he spent his high school and college years working in the family’s Hot Shoppes restaurant chain. He became a full-time associate in 1956, and soon afterward began overseeing the first Marriott hotel. He became president of the company in 1964 and chief executive officer in 1972, a role he held for 40 years before stepping down on March 31, 2012. He was elected Chairman of the Board in 1985.
The Board also announced today it has elected Isabella “Bella” Goren, former chief financial officer, American Airlines, and its parent, AMR Corp., as an independent director of the company, effective March 1, 2022. The Board also appointed Goren to the Board’s Audit Committee, effective on the same date. Goren will be included in the company’s slate of nominees for election at Marriott’s upcoming 2022 Annual Meeting.
At the same time, the Board also announced that Lawrence Kellner will not stand for re-election at the 2022 Annual Meeting. Kellner has served on the Board for nearly 20 years and has served as the independent lead director and chair of the Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee since 2013. The independent directors of the Board selected Frederick “Fritz” Henderson to succeed Kellner as lead director of the Board, effective immediately following the 2022 Annual Meeting. Henderson has been a Marriott Board member since 2013.
Upon J.W. Marriott, Jr.’s and Kellner’s departure from the Board, it will reduce its size from 14 members to 12.