1 | 2 | All | Print this article
Download PDF

Alumni Profile

Stephanie Sonnabend

Stephanie Sonnabend, SM ’79

President and CEO of Sonesta International Hotels Corporation


Driven to educate and contribute meaningfully to others around the globe, Stephanie Sonnabend, president and CEO of Sonesta International Hotels Corporation, views the relationship between a hotel and its geography as an opportunity to embrace culture and enrich lives. During her 30 years at Sonesta, she has entered new international markets, bridged cultural gaps, and improved the lives of employees through employment opportunities and training. Along the way she's even helped protect the Red Sea's coral reef.

When Sonnabend graduated from MIT Sloan, she was interested in marketing and organizational development. Impassioned by people and education, she was particular about the career she wanted to pursue. “I wasn't interested in a job that simply built widgets,” she says. “I wanted to contribute to the lives of others in ways that were meaningful.” When she joined her family's business, Sonesta International Hotels Corporation, in 1979 the company's mission of creating wonderful memories and experiences for hotel guests and families resonated with her.

Sonnabend began as a director of planning, leading special projects, such as the automation of its hotel service offerings. She moved up the ranks, becoming president in 1996 and adding the title of CEO in 2002. Along the way, she helped increase Sonesta's presence across the world, opening various hotels in new international markets and a cruise line on the Nile River.

More »