Marriott International plans big leadership changes as Dave Grissen steps down

Marriott International’s group president for the Americas, David Grissen (pictured) has announced he is stepping down from his position, with the company’s lodging operations to be consolidated under two long-time Marriott leaders.

Grissen will officially leave his position towards the end of 2020, retiring completely from Marriott in the first quarter of 2021. As a member of the company for 36 years, for the last 11 of them Grissen has led the company's Americas business, overseeing all of the territory’s lodging business, comprising more than 5,640 properties and a workforce of 160,000 people.

"It's hard for me to picture a Marriott without Dave Grissen, someone who has been such an integral part of this company for so long," said Arne Sorenson, president and CEO of Marriott International. "Dave is the consummate strategist with the mind of an operator. He is as equally skilled at driving successful implementation as he is at looking over the horizon to identify that next, new idea. Perhaps his most important legacy is the work he has done to champion leadership training and the impact that had developing new leaders and driving performance at our hotels across the region. We will certainly miss Dave, but I know that the next phase of his life will be as dynamic and meaningful as his extraordinary tenure here at Marriott."

Marriott also announced plans that, following Grissen’s departure, the company's lodging operations will be consolidated. Liam Brown will take on the role of group president for North America and Craig S. Smith will take on the role of group president, International.

craig s smith marriott

Craig S. Smith

In his new role, Smith will oversee all non-North American operations for Marriott including Asia Pacific, Europe, the Middle East & Africa, and the Caribbean & Latin America (CALA) regions. Smith, a 32-year Marriott veteran, is currently group president for Asia Pacific. Prior to his current role, he spent two and a half years leading the company's CALA region.

Brown is currently group president for Europe, the Middle East & Africa (EMEA). A 30-year Marriott veteran, he has spent the majority of his career working in the U.S. Prior to taking over leadership of the EMEA region, Brown was the company president for Europe, and prior to that, president of select brands and owner and franchise services for North America.. The company's Canadian operations will remain part of the North American portfolio under Mr. Brown.

"The changes we are making will help define a new era for our organization – one that will accelerate our global aspirations," said Sorenson. "We are lucky to have such a deep executive bench to draw from – both Craig and Liam are superbly talented and will bring tremendous experience to these roles."

In addition, the company is announcing that - in consultation with its Board of Directors - J.W. Marriott, Jr. has plans to transition to the role of Chairman Emeritus in 2022.  In anticipation of that event, the company expects that in 2021 David Marriott, the company’s current president of U.S. full service will join the company's board of directors. Should David Marriott join the Board, the company expects he will step down as an executive of the company at that time, in anticipation of assuming the position of chairman of the board.

"David is well-suited to join our Board and I know he will bring not only his operations and sales experience but also his deep understanding of Marriott's culture to Board-level conversation and decision-making," said Sorenson.

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