On Aug. 22, Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) revealed that executive Stacy J. Smith -- who served as the company's chief financial officer from 2006 to 2016 and most recently as the company's group president of manufacturing, operations, and sales -- will be retiring from the company by the end of January 2018.

Here's what Intel CEO Brian Krzanich had to say in a statement published on the company's website about Smith:

I want to thank Stacy for his leadership and his many outstanding contributions to Intel's success. Stacy is a key pillar of our MCM team and a mentor and friend to so many at the company. His career at Intel has spanned every geography and many organizations -- from head of EMEA sales and marketing, chief information officer, nine years as chief financial officer and, most recently, President of Manufacturing, Operations and Sales. Stacy helped guide Intel through the great recession as CFO and has been instrumental in helping to transform Intel from PC to data-centric. For me personally, Stacy has been an incredibly valued colleague, and I will miss him.

Now, Smith is a relatively young guy at just 54 years old, so I would be surprised if his retirement from Intel indicates that he's going to retire from the industry in general.

Intel executive Diane Bryant.

Diane Bryant. Image source: Intel.

I'll be watching with interest to see where he turns up.

Intel did not appear to announce Smith's successor, but there's one individual that I suspect will get the job if she wants it -- former Intel data center group (DCG) chief Diane Bryant.

The job is probably hers if she wants it

You may recall that Bryant went on a six- to eight-month leave of absence to deal with a personal matter back in May. That leave of absence should be up between November and January, so the timing would work out well for Bryant if she decides that she wants to come back to Intel (something that one reporter cast some doubt on).

Bryant is easily qualified for the job. Smith transitioned to this role (which seemed to be created specifically for him) from the CFO position and, for the brief stint that he held the position, things seemed to go well enough.

Bryant managed to successfully run Intel's most important business unit for half a decade, so I have confidence she could successfully serve as group president of the manufacturing, operations, and sales -- if she wants the gig.

If Bryant doesn't come back from her leave of absence, though, then an internal candidate doesn't obviously spring to mind; I'd expect that a replacement for Smith who isn't Bryant would come from outside of Intel (and possibly outside of even the semiconductor industry, given that there are few semiconductor companies that invest as much as Intel does in manufacturing or sales and marketing).

Much of Intel's top management has turned over recently

Over the last couple of years, Intel has seen substantial changes to its top management.

Renee James, president of Intel, left in 2015; former technology and manufacturing group (TMG) chief Bill Holt retired last year; and former client computing group (CCG) chief Kirk Skaugen also quit last year.

I could list more departures and changes, but I think you get the picture.

Only time will tell if these management changes will ultimately yield a better, stronger Intel or a weaker Intel, as management decisions made today won't impact the company's business performance for years to come.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.