On Feb. 18, Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) informed investors via a form 8-K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that Mr. William M. Holt, the individual at the chip giant responsible for the company's chip manufacturing technologies, intends to retire effective June 2016.
Holt's retirement comes after 42 years with the company and, at the time that his retirement is effective, more than 11 years as the General Manager of the company's Technology and Manufacturing Group.
The executive will be succeeded by two individuals: Sohail Ahmed and Ann Kelleher.
Who is Sohail Ahmed?
It's worth understanding the backgrounds of the two individuals chosen to replace Holt, as heading up what is arguably the most important part of the company is certainly not going to be an easy task. Strong leadership will be required for Intel to continue to pursue Moore's Law.
Per his biography on Intel's website, Ahmed received both Bachelor's and Master's degrees in chemical engineering. The executive joined the chip giant back in 1984 as a process engineer and has since then "held several technical and management positions" related to logic manufacturing process development.
In particular, he "worked on the development and transfer to high volume manufacturing of the last eight generations" of the chip giant's manufacturing technology. He also "managed all logic technology patterning development," which the company says included the "deployment of advanced lithography into manufacturing."
How about Ann Kelleher?
According to her biography page on Intel's website, Kelleher came to Intel in 1996 as a process engineer, just as Ahmed did. Since then, she went on to "manage technology transfers and factory ramp-ups in a variety of positions."
She was previously the site manager for Intel's Fab 11X manufacturing plant. As the site manager of Fab 11X, she was "responsible for high-volume manufacturing on 45 [nanometer] process technology" as well as ramping the company's 32-nanometer process up in that factory.
As far as education goes, the executive has Bachelor's, Master's, and a PhD in Electrical Engineering.
What does this mean for Intel?
Before he was promoted to CEO in 2013, Intel's Brian Krzanich was a senior vice president (and later COO) in charge of the company's manufacturing operations . He and Holt actually co-managed both the Technology and Manufacturing group; Krzanich was in charge of the actual manufacturing operations while Holt led technology development.
With Holt's departure, it would appear that Intel is once again "splitting" the roles. Ahmed will seemingly have the same role that Holt had before Krzanich became CEO, and Kelleher will have the role that Krzanich had before becoming CEO.
I suspect that it is a good thing to split these roles up as each role separately is likely quite difficult; having to handle both may simply be such a herculean task that trying could reduce the Technology and Manufacturing Group's overall effectiveness.
As far as Holt leaving is concerned, I think that this was somewhat "known" for a while. In a piece published by The Oregonian, the paper reported that Holt was considering retirement in 2016. I suspect that Holt has been "grooming" his successors for quite some time since Intel was able to announce such successors just six days after Holt informed Intel of his retirement.
In other words, there's probably not any reason for Intel stockholders to "panic." If anything, I'm excited to see some fresh blood give running the Technology and Manufacturing Group within Intel a shot, particularly in the face of strengthening competition and the company's recent manufacturing challenges.