I am an engineering PhD student in the "academic bubble". I have no personal connections to the industry and have little to no clue as to how it operates. One of the things that appeals to me most about academia is that it is largely meritocratic (at least as far as an institution this large can be) and linear - publish enough good work and you'll eventually move your way up the "ranks" to the top job - professorship.
I've heard off-hand that this is not the case in the industry - that a glass ceiling keeps the "top jobs" virtually out of reach unless well connected (usually nepotistically) and that there is a great deal of frustration with regards to the "job ladder" in general.
This seems overly cynical to me but as aforementioned I have no experience with the industry. So my interconnected questions are as follows:
What are the practical differences between promotions in academia and promotions in the industry? Are there differences in how much of a role "luck" or "connections" make? Are the paths to the "top jobs" as clearly defined as they are in academia? Will anybody motivated and competent enough make it to the top as often as they would in an academic setting?