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J. W. “Bill” Marriott Jr.

Chairman & CEO of Marriott International

J. W. “Bill” Marriott Jr. J. W. “Bill” Marriott Jr., born in Washington, D.C., first learned his father’s hands-on management approach while working for his parents’ Hot Shoppes restaurant chain in high school and college. After graduating from the University of Utah with a degree in banking and finance, Marriott joined his family’s company in 1956. Just eight months later, he took the reins at the company’s first hotel, the Twin Bridges Motor Hotel in Washington, D.C. At age 32, he was elected president of the Marriott Corporation.

Marriott convinced his father, J. Willard Marriott, that to achieve growth meant taking on debt. During the next three years, Marriott became an international company by acquiring an airline catering kitchen in Venezuela, and expanded its restaurant operations to include the Big Boy restaurant chain and the Roy Rogers fast-food division.

In 1972, Marriott succeeded his father as CEO. The company continued to grow through acquisitions and the development of new lodging brands. Courtyard by Marriott was introduced in 1983 as the company’s second lodging brand. Marriott entered the vacation timeshare business the following year. After his father’s death in 1985, Marriott became chairman of the corporation. Marriott Corporation soon restructured to sharpen its focus on lodging, senior living and contract services, selling its restaurants.

In 1993, Marriott split into two separate companies—Marriott International, a lodging and services-management company, and Host Marriott Corporation, which focused on real estate and airport concessions. Marriott’s lodging brands continued to grow with the acquisition of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company. In 1996, Host Marriott Services Corporation was formed when Host Marriott Corporation separated its real estate and airport concessions. Today, Marriott International employs approximately 146,000 people and operates nearly 3,300 lodging properties in the U.S. and 68 countries and territories.

Bill Marriott faithfully follows a set of simple business principles developed by his father: “Take care of your employees and they’ll take good care of your customers.” “Provide customers with good service and a quality product at a fair price.” “Stay in close touch with your business and always strive for success and never be satisfied.”

Marriott has given generously of his time and financial resources to such organizations as the Mayo Foundation, Georgetown University, the National Geographic Society, the President’s Advisory Committee of the American Red Cross and the World Travel & Tourism Council.