On May 3, Intel (INTC 4.83%) posted a letter penned by CEO Brian Krzanich discussing "changes to the company's leadership team."
According to the note, Intel Data Center Group (DCG) chief Diane Bryant "has made the difficult decision to take a leave of absence from Intel to tend to a personal family matter," and would be gone for "the next six to eight months."
Krzanich said in the note that "given the extended duration, an interim leader for the Data Center Group is not possible," which is why he just appointed current Client Computing Group (CCG) chief, Navin Shenoy, to take Bryant's place.
The executive also explained that "information about the succession plan for Navin as the general manager of CCG will be provided over the coming weeks," and that executive Murthy Renduchintala "will be CCG's acting leader."
Finally, Krzanich said that he'll reveal what Bryant will be up to next at Intel when she comes back.
What does this mean for Intel?
Navin Shenoy has quite a lot of experience under his belt. His biography on Intel's website says that before becoming the general manager of CCG, he was the general manager of Intel Asia Pacific, and before that he was "technical assistant to former Intel President and CEO Paul Otellini."
"In that role," his biography reads, "he assisted Otellini in the development and implementation of Intel's long-term corporate strategy and the daily management of Intel's global business."
Under Shenoy's (brief) tenure as the general manager of CCG (he took the position in April 2016), the division seemed to do well enough; in 2016, CCG's revenue grew slightly in a challenging personal computer market and operating profit surged to $10.65 billion, up from $8.17 billion in the prior year.
Obviously, CCG and DCG are different businesses, but I think that Shenoy's experience and success in CCG should translate nicely to DCG. Indeed, if Shenoy did well in managing a business facing serious challenges, he'll probably be fine managing DCG, which has much better long-term growth prospects.
What will Bryant do upon her return?
Bryant is clearly a very capable executive as the performance of DCG over the last several years has undoubtedly demonstrated. In my view, Intel is better off with her than without her, and the language of Krzanich's email makes it plain that she and Intel are planning for her to return.
The question, though, is what her "next challenging role" will be?
From the email, it doesn't sound like Bryant will take over CCG since information about CCG's succession plan "will be provided over the coming weeks" but Bryant's new role won't be announced until she comes back in six to eight months.
Intel's other major segments -- Programmable Solutions Group, Internet of Things Group, Non-Volatile Memory Solutions Group, and Intel's fledgling Custom Foundry division -- all aren't likely to see their current general managers replaced in favor of Bryant.
What I suspect that Intel might do, then, is create a new role for Bryant, as it did for current Intel executive Aicha Evans. Evans used to head up the company's Communications and Devices Group (iCDG), but was given the title of chief strategy officer.
The key for Intel, though, is to make sure Bryant does, indeed, have an interesting and challenging role upon her return as Intel's emerging data center competitors would likely benefit greatly from hiring her away from Intel.