The Research ladder.
R&D: The ‘R’ portion of R&D will prefer that you have a PhD. As you start as a Research Scientist and eventually manage a lab – you can still grow and “climb the ladder” in the technical/research side. Growth will be in the form of managing multiple labs within a facility/division, managing interfacility R&D divisions, managing R&D Strategy/Objectives, leading up to the CSO position.
The ‘D’ and Manufacturing avenues are usually open to people from different backgrounds. This might offer you a faster growth, but it’s highly variable. It can go either way. PhDs equip you with extremely strong problem-solving skills, it depends how you apply it on a daily basis.
Growth in the management ladder might vary based on the size of the organization also.