John Willard “Bill” Marriott, Jr., executive chairman and chairman of the board of Marriott International has been chosen by leading international accounting firm Ernst & Young to receive the 2016 EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award in the real estate, hospitality and construction category and the U.S. Entrepreneur of the Year Overall Award. Marriott was selected for pursuing business excellence and his achievement in innovation, fiscal growth and serving his company and community. In an uncertain year of mergers and acquisitions, the hospitality icon was also recognized for his role in Marriott International’s attainment of Starwood Hotels & Resorts, making it the largest hotel company in the world.

Read Smart Meetings’ exclusive interview with Bill Marriott

A panel of judges identified the hospitality industry icon as an exemplary model of these characteristics and recognized his leadership at the annual EY Entrepreneur of the Year Gala. Earlier this year, Marriott was recognized as the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year for the Mid-Atlantic region, which qualified him to be considered for the Entrepreneur of the Year 2016 national program. As the U.S. Entrepreneur of the Year Overall Award winner, Mr. Marriott moves on to compete for the World Entrepreneur of the Year Award that will be announced in Monaco in June 2017.

“I am humbled by this honor and that it underscores the philosophy of our company–that success is never final,” said Marriott. “It was wonderful to share the stage with so many remarkable business people doing such innovative work. And the theme of the night was deep gratitude for the countless people who stand behind these entrepreneurs helping their companies flourish and grow. For Marriott International, that has always been our associates who every day take care of our guests in over 6,000 hotels around the world.”

Since 1986, Ernst & Young has honored entrepreneurs whose ingenuity, spirit of innovation and discipline have propelled their companies’ success, invigorated their industries and benefited their communities. Now in its 30th year, the program has honored the inspirational leadership of such entrepreneurs as Howard Schultz of Starbucks Coffee Company, Robert Unanue of Goya Foods and Mindy Grossman of HSN. Recent U.S. national winners include Reid Hoffman and Jeff Weiner of LinkedIn; Hamdi Ulukaya, founder of Chobani; and 2015 winners Andreas Bechtolsheim and Jayshree Ullal of Arista Networks.